Day #7:


 

Enya,Only Time

*~ Reconnect With Your Past ~*

Earlier today, I had an e-mail in my Inbox that unexpectedly made me smile. It was odd, because it wasn’t from an old friend, or even someone with whom I have a long and complicated history…but from someone I barely know, yet have barely known for a long time, and accordingly, feel a bit of a “from back in the day” connection with.

We all have a past. For some, it’s an experience that’s symbolic of the “good old days”, something we’re not quite ready to let go of, no matter how much time passes. For others (like me, I suppose), it’s a bit more chequered, full of regrets and memories we wouldn’t trade for the world, and everything in between. For still others, it’s something to be fondly revisited from time to time, but with a greater wisdom and understanding.

Yet, for almost all of us, the past has a way of pulling us back in. That’s why sites like Classmates.com are so popular, and at any given moment of any given day, someone somewhere in the world is using Facebook to find out whatever happened to that ex that was never quite forgotten. It’s also why there’s a TV channel and a radio station devoted to the popular hits of virtually any time period, allowing people a way to escape, and relive the “good old days”—even if they weren’t always that good.

As I get older, I have to admit, I find myself becoming nostalgic. While there are many aspects of my past I’d love to forget, and I’ve picked up and moved on from enough situations,places, jobs, and relationships to make “moving on” a personal specialty, I am really extraordinarily sentimental. I hold a very special place in my heart for the people, places, things, and moments that meant a great deal to me, and I have an extraordinary talent for forgetting the end of the story, how badly that good moment turned out when all was said and done. For the most part, unless I’m in a rather melancholy and self-defeatist mood, I try to treasure all the exceptional moments of my life, and push the rest of them from immediate consciousness. When I look at life that way, I realise I have far fewer regrets, and a much better appreciation of my life as a whole. I have always treasured the experience of life, even if most things don’t end up the way I planned, or might have wished. Even the bad ones, I’m not sure I’d trade for anything, because they’ve molded me into the person I am today.



Now Is The Only Time I Know, ~indiae

I enjoy revisiting the past now and then—-taking a look at the random things in my “memory box”, listening to the 90′s weekend on Atlanta’s Star 94, reading old letters from those I’ve fallen out of touch with— or who are no longer here, and even watching old television shows or movies I used to love, and meant a good deal to me. (see: “Frasier”) :)

Recently, I renewed an acquaintance with someone I’ve known for nearly a decade, though at a distance. I’ve made an effort to reconnect with people who were once a part of my life, and to find out what happened to others. No matter what anyone might tell you, it truly does make you feel happier to know that person you *didn’t* end up with turned out to be happy—and it’s even more fulfilling when you can still have a positive and friendly relationship. I even bought a few of my favourite films from the old days on DVD, for those “blah” kind of days, or when I feel like sharing something I once loved with people now in my life.

I think it made me happy to hear from someone I was connected to what seems like a lifetime ago—although, in reality, it was perhaps 5 years— not because we were that close, or had so many positive memories from those days, but because it seems like a natural progression of things. Certain people are meant to stay a part of your life, in one way or another, as you go through the different stages of your life—and the result of that is a small reminder that the past doesn’t disappear, it just changes into something different, and often better.



Remembering Summers Past, Max Operandi

I treasure the people with whom I have a shared history, and with whom I am still on good terms, because they are a connection to the person I used to be, complete with a unique set of dreams, fears, and hopes for the future. It’s sad to me that so often, “moving on” means leaving that person behind, as well as the people who knew her.

Note: Thanks much for the link love from Green Tech Girl, who wrote about this issue more eloquently and knowledgeably than I ever could!

OK, so it’s probably not as ominous and dramatic as that, but still, I’m a very unhappy camper. :(

Today, I woke up to see that my beloved Meetup group had been thoroughly discombobulated.

Like many organizers on the site, I was crushed to see that the look, content, and ease of use of the group I’ve kept running (and growing) for well over four years could be decimated by the whims of a CEO looking to maximize profit without listening to the users who keep the company afloat.

Meetup never did any beta testing, usability studies, or even asked the people what they want. They simply redesigned our pages, without warning, to maximize the visibility of Sponsors (who aren’t even really sponsors, but people offering 10% off coupons), and minimize everything the organizers do to keep groups successful…as well as make the site look thoroughly unappealing to new members. It’s a slap in the face that a company that I, and many others, have supported throughout the years and credit for the opportunity to build important friendships, relationships, and meaningful experiences, would make these choices.

Worse yet, despite the fact that virtually everyone dislikes this choice, Meetup is not listening. They’re closing down threads on their “forums” that are full of thousands of people listing their complaints. They’ve closed accessibility to their customer service hotline. Concerns are not even being heard, much less addressed. An official statement from a member of Meetup HQ said:

“There are no plans to revert back to the old version of Meetup. If you have suggestions for improvements, or if you’ve come across any bugs that you’d like to report, please take a look at Andrea’s post for more information.

Because we have no plans to revert to the prior version of Meetup, we’ll be closing threads on this forum that are requesting that we do so. Please let us know if there’s anything specific that you’re having trouble with, or any tools that you’re having trouble finding.”

I think this is shameful, and I feel sad, because it’s the first step toward something that’s been an important part of my life on many levels falling apart. I did everything I was supposed to. I built a successful group that is of benefit to many people, to the community, and represents the Meetup idea well. And, still, it’s been damaged and diminished by forces outside my control.

I love Meetup, not only because of the opportunities it’s provided me to contribute to the world in some small way and grow as a person, but because of the role it’s had in my life over the past few years. It introduced me to my boyfriend of over two and a half years, as well as some significant relationships before that. It introduced me to both my present roommate, and my roommate before that, who has become one of my closest friends. It’s introduced me to not just acquaintances, but true friends that are like family to me after just a few years. It’s allowed me to meet people and have experiences, in both my own city and others, that I may not have had otherwise.

And, because I love Meetup, the way they’ve made choices that severely impact my group without consulting me is really a slap in the face. It’s a sad day for me. I feel a little bit like I’m going through a huge breakup I didn’t see coming, with an ex who refuses to communicate with me. :P

For anyone who cares, here’s the letter I sent to Meetup HQ, which they will never read:

Dear Meetup HQ,

Please, just bring the old Meetup back.

Organizers spend a lot of time and energy on putting together what they do. All of that is not only not appreciated, but completely undermined, by a new layout that hides the content Organizers write, overrides the designs they’ve created, and instead features Sponsors (who truly don’t offer anything except discounts off of purchases), and fosters an attitude that Organizers are unnecessary, since almost anyone can do it.

This direction that Meetup is taking is driving people away, both Organizers and community members. As someone with an active group of nearly 1500 that’s been going strong for years, I wonder why the focus on changing what works? The new layout is not friendly, not inviting to new users, and doesn’t give the impression of a community so much as a scheduling tool. That’s not what most are looking for in this site, organizers and users alike.

After nearly a decade of my group being hosted by Meetup, it is a personal affront to me that the group might be harmed by the new layout; members are leaving, I received numerous complaints by people who thought the changes were my responsibility, and people want the old functions back, like the Meetup Stars, and the ability to post comments directly from the Meetup page. Also, just because someone suggests an “Idea” does not make it a “Meetup In The Making”, and it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen…I personally don’t want it lumped in as a “future event” unless it’s something I have planned, not simply something a member suggested.

95% of the Organizers I’ve spoken with agree with me. If Meetup is supposed to be about community, why are you not listening to your community members, rather than rolling out features without asking those that pay to use this service what they think? Even Facebook allows beta testing of new features, and the ability to go back to the old version if you don’t like the changes.

People are leaving this website and investigating alternatives simply because of these changes, so I hope that the CEO and management of Meetup listen. I’d hate to see a great service die because someone took it in a direction the users did not want it to go. (see: MySpace.) Those who are loyal to the vision of Meetup will stay, but only if our interests are being served.

Meetup should at least give us the option to revert back to the old format if we’re not interested in using this new one. The organizers are essential in keeping this site going, and we should have a say, too.

Are you listening, Meetup.Com? No, I didn’t think so.

While absolutely nobody reads this blog, save for a handful of close friends, it seems I’ve been targeted by a spammer-bot that found me on LiveJournal, and just won’t quit with the comments. So, I’m going to handle the situation like I usually do when a problem with someone or something comes my way: by writing a polite note that is perfectly cordial on the outside, but on the inside, contains a very large middle finger. :)

Dear Spammer-Bot,

My comments are moderated for a variety of reasons, but you are one of them. Your comments will not be approved, so, please, stop wasting your time and mine.

Thanks,

*~ A.

In other news, I have now officially failed at/ broken all my New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t lost a single pound since successfully convincing the scale to take 5 off the number it shows me every day, I spend more time wasting time on the computer during my work day than actually working, I’m not in a financially promising situation due to all the things that are going into planning a friend’s bridal shower, bachelorette party, and attending her wedding next month, and I’ve only read one book and watched one movie on the “classics” list. The past few months have brought a good deal of distance, both physically and emotionally (though, ironically, not at the same time.) into my relationship with The Guy I Am Currently Dating. We’ve had open and kind of emotionally draining conversations about the future of our relationship—or, in my mind, the lack thereof.

I’m certain that those that have known me for a long time have pegged my recent sadness as simply that thing that happens to me every so often, where I realise I’m dissatisfied with my life, and ready to run: from a job that isn’t ultimately what I want to do, but is improving my life and good for me *right now*; from a relationship that often seems too hard and too complicated and destined to end as soon as it is time for me to make any kind of major life change; from a living situation I don’t like, with a roommate that simply refuses to find a full-time job and hasn’t paid more than $100 a month toward living expenses for a year; from friends that talk about me behind my back and I’m not always certain truly like me or consider me a friend, nor if I truly like them. I know I tend to run away from things rather than moving forward, but I haven’t done that in a long while, and as a result, I feel stuck.

And while I know there are options for unsticking myself that don’t involve just packing up and going somewhere where nobody knows my name (which I guess means Boston is out. :P ), that idea can’t help but seem appealing and exciting to me. I’m ready for a new adventure, and for things to not always feel so stagnant. Part of me just wonders if I’ve exhausted my adventures here in Atlanta, while another part simply wants to move closer to the city and into my own apartment. Either way, I find myself being bored and restless, and while I don’t want to leave behind all the positive relationships I’ve built here and find myself all alone in the world, it seems like every time I finally develop something that feels like home and family, my natural inclination is to want to go away from it and visit it on holidays.

I am really, truly, in need of personal growth, adventure, and excitement. For the first time, concerns about relationships, work, money, and everything else aren’t paramount in my mind, although they really should be. My energy and focus always drifts away, and dreams of adventure, exciting changes, and recapturing my spirit.

I’m not really sure what to do with that, or about that.