On the Outside

While scrolling through Tumblr this morning I started reminiscing about the “meetups” they once helped their users stage. You could register a meetup on the site, and they would advertise it, and send out a pack with table cards, badges, namecards – everything you might need to dress up a couple of tables in a bar. Of course “reminisce” isn’t really the right word, because I never actually went to a meet-up.

Among the circle of people I knew on Tumblr back then, the vast majority were in or around New York – where Tumblr originated, and is still based. I think perhaps the most noteable meetups were nicknamed “Snark” – and as with many social events, ended up being organised by one person – a girl that’s still around on the platform all these years later.

I always wished I would be able to make it to one of the New York meetups – but then of course children happened, and life went sideways for – oh – a decade maybe? And now the meetups don’t seem to happen any more.

I know of at least one couple that got married after meeting at one of the Tumblr meetups – and I know other people that never spoke again after meeting in person. It’s funny – I always remember a famous actress in England talking about parties – and recoiling in horror at the idea of arriving at an event where everybody you knew was present.

Anyway. I wasn’t going to write about the Tumblr meetups specifically. I was going to write about being an outsider. Because I don’t even live on the same continent as many of the people I discovered during those early years of the “social internet”, I never really felt like I was a part of it all – like I was included.

Thinking back to MySpace, Tumblr, and LiveJournal, I remember Tom the warehouse manager from New York, Carli the glass artist from Oregon, Tiffany the fellow techie from North Carolina, Courtney the nanny from Oklahoma, Glen the barista in California, Erin the homeschooling gymnastics coach, Ingvild the artist from Norway, Pam the charity worker from Houston, Tina the stylist from New York, Rodney the radio host from Australia – I could go on and on. Many of them are still around – still posting here and there. Some have stopped blogging entirely, and some have died. I still often think about Lisa, that died in a car crash just outside of Oklahoma – survived by her young son who was in the back of the car. I’ve looked him up from time to time on the internet – she would be so proud of him.

Where was I ?

Ah yes – it turns out that the geographic disparity is fine of course, because I’m not the sort of person that needs to be included in things – but oh how I wished back then that I could have walked into one of the meetups unannounced and caused a few mouths to fall open. Imagine travelling thousands of miles to go for a night out with people you’ve never met, and might never meet again.

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