So this is it. The end.
I first found the FPL in 2001. Actually, it may have been 2000. The details are sketchy. I don’t even remember how I came to find it. The point is, it was a long time ago.
The FPL was, to me, a revelation. The people were comic book geeks – just like me – but they came from all walks of life, all ages and even spanned a few continents. Almost everyone was friendly and accepting, and even those few who weren’t were at least entertainingly mean. The conversations were lively, the laughs were consistent and the headaches were few. Sure, I butted heads with many over my hatred of anime and penchant for ... well ... let’s just call it outspokenness ... but it was a place I enjoyed greatly and looked forward to visiting.
When I started, I was a terrible, terrible writer with terrible, terrible ideas. I mean, some have found hidden brilliance in The Facts of Life Hydra but really people, it was terrible. It took me a while to accept my terribleness, but once I did there were plenty of people ready and willing to help me improve. This was the Golden Age of Poe and Abdeil, I would remind you. There were plenty of inspirational sources to draw from and aspire to. In 2001, I finally had my first Hall of Fame character (Clockwork Knight, for you trivia buffs) and I pretty much found my stride after that. My writing got better. My ideas got better. I wrote match set-ups and fiction. I tried to help newbies find the same path. Good times.
As fun as all this writing was, the real allure of the FPL was the people. It’s always been the people. Through rule changes and site implosions and coding glitches and multi-account scandals the one thing which kept me around was the chance to interact with you guys on a daily basis. The FPL (oh fine... and CBUB) is a community. More than that – a family. That’s why my decision to leave is so disheartening.
So here we are at the heart of the matter then – the recent Second Coming of Serge. I make that comment in jest, but it’s not a bad analogy. Serge was always this mysterious, otherworldly entity to most of us. He was the Creator. He was the Great Coder in the Sky who provided for our flock. Still, you seldom saw him. In times of great tribulation, he would descend from the firmament and fix site errors or purge spam bots or bestow upon us upgrades. He was out there, feared and revered but not known. Not directly. Not by most. Unlike God, we didn’t know Serge in our heart. We didn’t know him personally and he us. Also unlike God, Serge was a real person.
As a result, a more apt analogy is that of an absentee landlord. He owned the building, and made repairs as needed. He was hard to get ahold of though. Unless there was a serious problem, he pretty much left us to our tenancy and as long as we paid the rent (admittedly, and to his credit, zero in this case) he didn’t much care what we were doing. To tie this analogy to the recent hullaballoo, I’d like you to imagine living in an apartment owned by such a landlord. You and your family are enjoying dinner one evening when the landlord walks into the apartment unannounced and starts freaking out.
“You painted the walls?!?”, he wails. “10 years ago they were beige! And this sofa – that wasn’t there before! And I never intended those windows to covered with blinds – where are the curtains? And what’s the deal with this dog? I had a no pet policy!”
“This has been like this from the start,” you reply meekly, “how were we supposed to know what you intended this apartment to be? You could have dropped in at any point in the last decade and done an inspection.”
“I was busy,” says the landlord, “but now that I see the state of this apartment, there are going to be some changes. First, that dog has got to go – then the blinds and the paint and the sofa.”
“Well hang on a second,” you interject, “you own the building, but we’ve lived here for 10 years. This is our home. Don’t we have any say in this?”
“No,” comes the curt reply, “and quite frankly, anyone who would live with olive walls and vertical blinds must be a real douchebag. I’m of half a mind to kick you out for the good of the community.”
“The community?” you reply, “you don’t know the first thing about the community.”
“Sure I do,” comes the confident response, “everyone loves Linkin Park and NSync and is excited about these new iPod things which are coming out soon!”
“Yeah that was true 10 years ago, but things have changed...”
And you know, things have changed. A lot. It’s a shame that it took Serge 10 years to figure that out, and a bigger shame that instead of accepting what we’ve become and embracing it, he is dialling it all back so that it matches his original vision. To continue to analogy above, it’s like deleting your Facebook account and replacing it with a Linkin Park fansite on Geocities.
I think the biggest problem is that – like the landlord above – Serge has been absentee for too long. He’s not a part of our community any more than your landlord is a part of your family. He doesn’t have any idea who we are and what we’ve been doing and – more distressingly – doesn’t seem to particularly care. Had he bothered to find out anything about the guys from the “whitey” thread, he’d know they were all stand up guys and not a racist among them. But he’s made up his mind: about the thread, about the posters, about the whole damned site.
So now, Electric Ferret is going to be a super happy funtime place for kids! Hooray! Finally, a safe place for kids to discuss comics and cartoons and not have to be exposed to the sex, violence, racism and religious persecution of the real world. A place where they will be spared from having to understand controversial topics like sexual assault, drug abuse, homosexuality, war, politics, domestic violence, child abuse, fascism and terrorism.
It pains me to leave, but I just don't want to be a part of this new Electric Ferret. I don't want to be censored from discussing relevant issues or banned for trying to argue a point or have my characters edited to make them child-friendly. More importantly, I resent being told that after a decade of positive contribution that I'm no longer wanted here. I'm too old. I'm missing the point. I'm inappropriate. F*ck that. I'm taking the first lifeboat off this Titanic, and I suspect a number of others will do so as well.
It's been fun, kids. Take care.