Listening recently to MC Frontalot's demo track A Skit About Vocations, wherein there occurs a collision of two personalities both of whom I admire, but whom I've never seen together, I came to a realization. I'm part of a community. It's largely an online community, national if not global. But it is indeed a community, and I feel a definite sense of belonging. It's a community of bloggers, gamers, and podcasters, of sci-fi and comics aficionados and of content creators. We are America's otaku. A surprising number of us are QA Testers if not programmers. Many of us grew up in the eighties are now new parents. We are connected by a near-endless series of in-jokes that those outside our circle will never understand, and we delight in referencing these jokes in the most obscure manners possible, secure in the knowledge that our more clever fellows will get the joke. We laughed together at Wil Wheaton's keynote address at PAX 2007. We cried together at the end of Half-Life 2, Episode 2. We listened together when Jonathan Coulton released CodeMonkey, and we mourned together when Joe Murphy passed away.
I first learned about these types of nebulous small, yet widespread communities when I started attending national Lindy Hop events like ALHC and SONH. The Lindy Hoppers are a very small community - just a few hundred people - spread out over the whole country, who would congregate for these events. So I knew people from Chicago, from Miami, from San Fransisco, whom I'd never have otherwise known. I'd see them frequently enough to call them friends.
The online community is a bit different in that many more have never met, and in that it's far larger. Events like PAX, DragonCon, and ComicCon are still relatively new and relatively few, and not a lot of people have the funds to travel across the country for such events. But the Internet connects us, and enables us to remain a community despite our physical distance. Maybe at PAX 2010 I'll get a chance to meet Brandon, Kris, or Josh.
Since I left Connecticut, I've fallen out of touch with a lot of my best friends there. I keep in touch with them, and I've met some very cool people in Colorado, but a lot of the people with whom I chat from day to day are people I've met online, and never met face-to-face. We're joined by the common interests and common experiences that make us all geeks. These are my people.