Thursday, August 7, 2008

End of an Era

The ex-Jehovah's Witness forum I've frequented since leaving the group almost 3 years ago is shutting down. It has been in existence for 8 years now and helped thousands see the truth about the Jehovah's Witness organization, as well as provide those leaving a safe place to fall and get their bearings as they enter the "real world".

I'm not even sure how I feel right now. I have made so many friends through this forum and although I have not been there as much over the past year, it is still the community that I go to when I'm processing JW stuff that no one else will understand. And so, there is a sadness in my heart today. A sadness that I can't even put into words. Accepting cyber hugs.

tall penguin


Tammie said...

I was sad to learn it was closing down as well. Although I never posted on it, I have visited it many times in the past year and it has helped me through some tough moments. There are just some things that can never be explained to someone who wasn't in "the truth."

I do agree with some of the reasons for shutting it down though. I think one of the reasons I refrained from posting on the site was that there seemed to be a lot of negativity and hatred. Although I completely understand the range of emotions that follow leaving the organization, I don't think that referring to a jw as a "jehovah's Witless" is helpful (i noticed other similar wordplay from various people). I don't want to imply that I'm without my own amount of hate, I just try to think of better ways to deal with it. There are many, many witnesses that I do hate, but I have met a few over the years who I think are genuinely good people. To resort to petty name calling just seemed hurtful and childish. Plus, it made the site appear very unwelcoming to newcomers. Because, lets face it, a lot of first time visitors to the site are jw's, and to be referred to as ignorant right off the bat, can be a bit disconcerting.

tall penguin said...

I agree that the petty name-calling serves no purpose. Yet, people are at different levels in recovery.

This forum is a community service. It's not just some weekend project. It's been a lifeline for so many for so long. Even now I'm sure there are lurkers trying to leave the jw's who found the site useful. Eventually, you realize that being out in the real world means developing a thicker skin. Online forums provide that lesson pretty quickly. Why let a few bad apples ruin it for everyone?

I hope another such forum will arise in its place for the sake of the newbies and those who want to leave but need the support network of such a forum to do so.

The end of an era indeed. I am sad.

Tammie said...

I agree with you but when visiting the forum and stumbling upon such negativity, I felt that to lump all Witnesses into a group and consider them stupid isn't any different than Witnesses lumping all worldy people together and considering them "bad."

As a newcomer to the site last year, I just felt that I wouldn't be welcome unless I regularly professed my hatred. At the time I stopped going to meetings, I was tired of hating/being expected to hate everyone that didn't fit the rigid jw mold. Hating is exhausting.

At times, the forum seemed like just more hate, Which was why I always simply lurked.

I certainly hope I didn't imply that it doesn't serve a valuable purpose. More often than not, the postings I came across were helpful and it was good to not feel so alone. I just don't feel it was a generally welcoming site.

Having said that, I do hope a similar one pops up. I will probably go there and lurk as well.

tall penguin said...

"I felt that to lump all Witnesses into a group and consider them stupid isn't any different than Witnesses lumping all worldy people together and considering them "bad.""

Oh, I'm not disagreeing with you by any means. I think that labeling any group of people at any time is useless and demeaning. They are individuals, as we are as well.

"As a newcomer to the site last year, I just felt that I wouldn't be welcome unless I regularly professed my hatred."

Yes, I felt this at times as well. I would rather we discuss how things affected us than point fingers and lump everyone into one group that we are now supposed to hate. I don't hate JW's. I hate the ideologies of the organization, but there are individuals there that I love dearly. It's why it all still hurts so much.

"I just don't feel it was a generally welcoming site."

It used to be. Somewhere along the way things shifted. Or not. I'm not sure what happened really. I just always saw it as a cross-section of people, just like any community. Sometimes people were kind. Sometimes not. That's reality. Cold, harsh, but that's reality.

It would be difficult to create a consistently welcome online environment without a great amount of policing and moderation, which smacks of the other stuff we left behind as jw's. So it's a difficult thing. Not sure there's any easy answer here.

Tammie said...

yes, you're right. there is no easy answer.

lets hope a similar site pops up. but if not, we've lived through worse.


Brian said...

Like many others, that forum has been invaluable in helping with my exit. So many great conversations, so many great memories, and I've only been there a year. JWD was what held my hand and continues to hold it through my difficult transition into a real life. I only hope that before it shuts down an alternate forum can be started.

Brian said...

I was kind of confused about the reasons for it shutting down. Sure there were a few users that may have made everyone look bad, but on the internet there is no guarantee of good behavior on an internet forum. I frequented other forums and found JWD to be quite tame, actually. There was one user I recall that used that "wordplay" you mentioned on every single witness-related word he typed (conventions=boasting sessions, and who can forget "filthy and discraceful slavebugger"). It was teeth-grindingly annoying.

matt said...

I think jwd gave me my original motivation to look around and research. By this point, though, I had already decided that religion was a racket and a snare. jwd just gave me ammunition to realize the coldness. It's okay though, someone will start a new forum, or take on the reigns, I'm sure. Something like that doesn't just die.


tall penguin said...

I've found a new site already. Yay!!!

Brian said...

A bunch of JWDers have gone to the board at as well

tall penguin said...

Funny but now that I've sat with the grief I can see this being a blessing. While I've joined another forum, I don't see myself being on there that often. I'm moving into being an ex-ex-jw and although the experience will always be part of who I am, it no longer defines me. So, onwards and upwards.