Friday, October 14, 2011

Life Is Good!

Long, long ago in an internet far far away …


Back before Facebook was both a noun and verb, before I had even heard the word Twitter, back over five years ago, I met a group of misfits on an American Idol public message board.

I had started watching the show and was searching for information online when I came across an MSN public message board dedicated to American Idol. It was season five – the year of Taylor Hicks, and the shocking upset when Chris Daughtry failed to make it to the final two. The year of Ace, Bucky, Katherine, Kellie, Mandisa, Elliott, Paris and Kevin. It remains the only year I religiously watched the show and the board was a huge part of the experience. The message board was hysterical, including people from all over the world in one spot sharing their views about the show and the contestants and, essentially, living out a true Peyton Place drama of their own. There were fights, love-fests, taunts, and attacks. Smaller groups of closer friends formed, flourished, fought, and failed.

We began only knowing each others' screen names. Looking back, that was when I became Justacogitating online. We began as anonymous strangers who slowly came to know more and more about each other and, even more slowly, came to trust each other. The show ended; however, the message board continued for a substantial amount of time. The same screen names kept popping up under new “threads” devoted to topics ranging from politics (always dangerous) to sports (equally so) to daily threads where now friends would stop by just to say hello.  As we grew closer, the level of anonymity lessened yet there is something about a group of people online, a step removed in one way from your daily life that allowed, at times, an even more open discussion of tough issues.  Honestly, there are things about me that only my “board” friends know even though they have never met me in person.

A few people eventually opened up private message boards and invited friends to join them in a bit less public setting and our friendships grew even deeper. The drama continued as well. Some private boards lasted only a few months while others, well, technically, others continue yet today.  I had no idea back in 2006 that I would still have daily contact with some of those “anonymous strangers” that I met on an American Idol message board – but they form an important and unique part of my circle of friends and family.

Why am I waxing poetic about an American Idol message board?

Yesterday, we lost one of our originals, if you will.

Even the online impression of Pam aka “Wink” was that of a mother hen – at least that was always my impression of her. I believe she was the same online as she ever was at home – an open and caring individual who only wanted the best for those around her. Pam emphasized her belief – her basic belief – that life is good. In fact, at one time, she hosted a board by the same name. She was always quick to encourage and difficult to anger. She strove for the resolution of conflicts between individuals; hence, my mother hen comparison. A beloved wife, mother, and friend, Pam touched many lives and will continue to do so.

Hearing of her death prompted me to reminisce about the wacky group of people I met so long ago. It’s odd … I know my original name and Pam’s but there are so many of those originals whose screen names I have forgotten. I remember Carolina_Girl (but it seems there was "sweet" in there somewhere at one time, right?), Acefan, Sha, BlueEyes, and a few others but it is frustrating not to remember more.

I guess it is the people I remember rather than their screen names and perhaps that is the way it should be.   

[That said, if you care to share some of the old names, I’d love to have my memory jogged some moreSeriously ... ]

Life is good!

A lady named Wink told me so.


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