The GenAARal Idea (coz1)
A Forum If We Can Keep It
At the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 18, 1787, a Mrs. Powel anxiously awaited the results, and as Benjamin Franklin emerged from the long task now finished, asked him directly: "Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" "A republic if you can keep it" responded Franklin.
- taken from various sources
Why have we all come here? Why have we all decided to congregate in the Paradox AAR forum? Some might say we do not have lives of our own. Some might say that we are failed writAARs that instead ply our craft among other likeminded failures. Some might say we utilize the non-personal atmosphere that is the Internet to be friendly because we are anti-social and lack that in our lives.
I cannot say this is true or untrue, nor could I make judgment on any other reason we might choose to come here and make ourselves part of this community. I should think the reasons are a bit more positive than that, but regardless; the fact is we do. Most of us started as simple gamers that found a unique aspect within the Paradox paradigm. It allowed us to create a story around the games we enjoyed playing so much. As well, most of us must have some affinity for writing; otherwise we would not spend so much time attempting to create the tales that we do. Some of us perhaps simply enjoy reading finely crafted adventures, be it of King or country, soldier or peasant.
Regardless, we choose to utilize our time within this forum. Many of us have children, most of us have jobs or school, and we certainly all have lives that demand attention outside of this little world. Yet we return again and again, to read, write and attempt to be forum membAARs.
Yet how easy is it to leave? I know I have done it. Have you? It takes nothing more than simply not logging on. Even though it may be difficult to deprive yourself of the AAR for a period of time, we have all taken a “vacation” or left without a trace for a number of months if not completely. Most of us can do so with ease; after all, this is only an Internet community. How can anyone track you down, or give you grief for not returning?
It is the nature of the Internet that allows for such impersonal relationships to flourish. And when we have them, we rejoice because we feel a kindred spirit, and when we do not, it is as easy as ignoring or avoiding whomever we choose without ever having to look another person in the eye.
Yet what has been created here at the Paradox AAR forum is unique, at least in my experience. Unlike other online forums, and specifically within this very one, our membAARs have a respect for one another and tend to hold each person in high regard. We see a name that appears with frequency and come to admire them. We see a writAAR that creates such incredible material and we put them on a pedestal and say, “Now that fella knows what he is talking about.” But do they? Do these individuals deserve our respect and admiration?
I would like to say yes, but it becomes increasingly hard when one sees the selfishness than can take place. So many times a writAAR only comes on board to get personal feedback without giving as good as they may get. So many times, a long-standing membAAR feels that they have paid their dues and no longer needs to provide the feedback that is so necessary for forum health. So many times, a leader gives up because they do not see their vision come to fruition, rather than try harder. In the end, it is easier to simply walk away rather than give back to this community what most of you have been able to take from it.
I speak of all membAARs. Not just newcomers, but lurkAARs all the way to the modAARators. Leadership by example and do unto others as you would have them do unto you should be our credos, yet many times, it is so much easier to say “I have better things to do.”
I could look at each stage of membAARship at this point, and in fact, I would like to see an AARticle that discusses that very thing (and soon will), but suffice it to say, we are all part of this society. And with that membAARship card, comes a responsibility to uphold the principles that would make this community thrive as much as it is possible for it to do so.
How many times have we seen an initiative begun and then waste away for lack of desire from one of the originators? How many times has someone come up with a great idea, but is unable to put forth the effort to create or sustain it? If we want this community to thrive, we must make it incumbent upon ourselves to see that it does. What is it that they say? “A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link.”
This should be paramount on everyone’s mind the moment they enter the virtual room. If you want a place to create your stories, then you must also take on the responsibility that is being a membAAR. Leaving without a trace is unacceptable. Working on an AAR for two weeks and then disappearing has created nothing. Saying you want cross-forum interaction and then sticking within one game is hypocrisy itself.
It certainly requires effort, but then again, so does writing in general, and we would not be here if we did not find some fascination in that aspect. But this does not come free. There is a natural give and take in the world, and if you expect someone to look at your work and appreciate it, if you desire for an individual to take an interest in your endeavors, then so too must you do the same for them. If we want a forum that allows for such interaction, then we must be prepared to contribute!
I am not suggesting that everyone become a leader. I am not saying that we do not already have several membAARs that take this responsibility very seriously. In fact, there are many that do. But the question to ask is, are you a weak link or a strong one? Do you speak about ideas and then follow up, or not? What are you really contributing to this forum?
I do not wish to caste blame on any one person or make judgments simply to be critical, as I have surely been just as guilty as anyone else from time to time. What I wish is to make each and everyone of us think about what we contribute to the current state and future of this place that we have grown to love and enjoy so much.
I, just as many others before me, have seen the immense potential that this area of the net allows us. I have met many great people here, and have been able to create wonderful stories and read countless more. But when I see ideas thrown about and then fall away from disinterest, I have to wonder – was the idea bad? Were the people running the initiative not serious? Or do people just not care?
When I see a brilliant story crafted and then garner little interest, again, I ask myself – Is this not a good story in reality? Is the writer doing a poor job? Or do people just not care?
When I see some branching out to the other game forums and it seems to not encourage others to do the same, I ask myself – Are the games bad? Are the stories unworthy of the other game’s readAARs? Or do people just not care?
We are here to write, first and foremost. And we take pleasure in reading what others have written. But this, alone, is not enough. We all need to make the effort to ensure that this forum does not stagnate, that we remain fresh and innovative. That we take great pride in not only our own accomplishments, but those of others as well. Show people that you care. Show people that you look upon them as family. Can there be anything other to describe us?
When you need to take a break, tell us. When you are unhappy with the way things are going, say so. When you have an idea, do it and follow through. When you read something, give them the kind of response that you would want. When you wish to see change, take action rather than just saying so.
If we wish to keep this place for each of us as a thriving community, it is a duty that all of us must take upon ourselves. Do not simply come here and expect reaction. Come here and be a part of what we are doing. Come in this place and decide to be a membAAR! After all, this can only be a positive forum, worthy of our efforts, if we choose to keep it as such. Do we?