Thoughts on Leaving a Place

A bit more of a contemplative entry for you today, my friends. Nothing in particular brought this on, but I wanted to get this out at some point, and figured today was as good a day as any. It’s primarily relevant to Internet communities, I suppose, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it applied to many situations IRL as well. 😉

I’ve been a part of a few Internet communities in my time. My very first was…I think an old, old Toonami forum, back in the 90s, or maybe early 2000s at most. I can’t even remember its name. After that was FESS, then the CV Dungeon, and a few other random ones, some on chat programs like Skype, others from elsewhere.

I’m currently only active at the CV Dungeon, the Bloodstained forum, and a few other places, like /m/ and some history-related reddits (I don’t pay much attention to the rest of the site, but places like /r/askhistorians have actual historians with degrees there, which is definitely related to my professional interests). As you can tell, I’ve left quite a few online communities behind me. Admittedly, in many cases I didn’t leave so much as the communities themselves sort of faded away. The Toonami forum, for instance, became less active as time passed.

Still, there were a few forums or communities I up and left of my own volition when they were still going strong, and those not always on the best of terms. FESS was one–while I’ve no desire to go over all the drama revolving around my departure, I think it does serve as an example of what *not* to do when leaving a place. When I left, I didn’t cause any trouble for FESS (to my credit), but I also complained a lot about it (to my shame). There was a lot of conflict between the administration and I, and while I still don’t agree with everything they did, looking back on it a lot of my critiques of them were short-sighted and unperceptive.  I never had to deal with a lot of the stuff they did, and with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that many of my complaints were too harsh and made without understanding of the other party’s position. Now that I have a lot more experience and I’ve seen how other forum admins have had to deal with similar problems as the FESS admins did, I have to admit that the FESS guys were never as bad as I used to say they were. I might go into all that in a later post, but for this one, the important thing to note is that I focused a lot on negativity and bitterness about my time at FESS. That, I think, was (and for anyone in a similar situation currently, is) a counterproductive and ultimately futile way of leaving a community, whatever your problems with it might be.

If I could do it all again, I would keep this in mind: Whenever you leave a place, don’t concentrate on the acrimony of your departure, or any bad things that happened there, or just negativity in general. Instead, try to remember the good times, the things you gained, the things you learned, and be thankful for those. Be grateful for the opportunity to experience that good stuff, even if you had to leave it behind for whatever reason. And try not to hold bitterness towards the people you’re leaving, no matter how they feel about you. If you’ve got a lot of folks who dislike you at a place, maybe they’ll say stuff like “Hah! I’m glad you’re gone!” or “You never contributed anything to this community!” In that case, don’t get mad, or repay their vitriol with the same. Instead, just remember all the good times you had and everything you gained…and then shrug your shoulders, smile, and say, “Well, it seems like I gained more from my time at your forums than you did. I sure won’t be sour over getting the better end of a deal!”

And if they don’t say stuff like that, indeed, if they seem sorry to see you go, well…keep that door open, don’t shut it unnecessarily like I did with my complaining. The admins at FESS were actually displeased to see me go and said as much a few times; if I hadn’t been so sour (an attitude indicative of immaturity) I might have been welcomed back. It’s not often a good idea to burn your bridges–you never know when they might come in handy. So ‘taking the high road,’ so to speak, and refusing to speak badly of a place you once belonged to might help you out quite a bit in the long run.

At the very least, I think it’s a mark of maturity and wisdom. And isn’t that it’s own reward? 😉

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