If it weren't for pornography, I might never have found Radio Free Monterey.
Before you jump to any wild, lascivious conclusions, allow me to explain.
Back in the "early days" of the internet, I was living (platonically!) with a man who was utterly infatuated with pornography. When he got a computer and logged onto the internet, it was primarily to do what has become one of the biggest clichés of the computer age... to surf the net looking for sex!
Well, he wasn't home EVERY night. Eventually, on evenings when he abandoned his cyber escapades to go out into the "real world," I would log on and tentatively poke my way around. And I found that, lo and behold, there was a LOT more to the internet than sex! There was instant information about EVERYTHING -- stocks, businesses, community events, books, art, music, local history, not-so-local history, even the weather! There were also CRAZY fun places, like the hilarious Guinness Beer site and my friend "Chilidog's Condiment Castle" where you could vote on who was the funniest-looking politician then have a cyber-hotdog with the celebrity of your choice!
When the time came for me and my sex-starved roommate to part ways, the first thing I did was go out and buy my own computer -- and of course my own internet connection. With no one to share the computer with, I became obsessed! I logged on every day after work. Sometimes, I found myself following the seemingly never-ending internet links until it was time to take a shower and get ready for work! Many were the mornings when I would drag myself into the office, turn on my computer there and as it was booting up I'd think, "My GOD, all I'm doing anymore is staring at some computer!"
Just when I was beginning to worry that I was becoming addicted to the web, a friend introduced me to IRC. Then I was REALLY hooked!
The first night I logged on to IRC, I found group of people in a chat room who would eventually become wonderful friends. As a single woman living on my own, I relished the fact that at any time of the day or night I could dial up and instantly be surrounded by friendly people whom I could laugh and joke with, talk politics with, share my ideas and dreams with -- sometimes even flirt with! -- all without having to ever leave my apartment! And I was lucky enough to find people who didn't think of cyber-life as a total escape, but rather as a jumping-off point, which evolved for many of us into real-life meetings, exciting journeys and fabulous adventures. I even met the man who would become my husband during that time, in that IRC chatroom.
A few years passed, and though most of us from that time stayed in touch, the IRC chat room became mostly abandoned. One night, as I searched a Dalnet chat room list hoping to find a place of friendly, interesting, intelligent people like the ones I met my first night on IRC, I came across Radio Free Monterey. I was immediately drawn to the room for a couple of reasons.. First: I was very interested in the band R.E.M. at the time and was reminded of their song "Radio Free Europe" and Second: Monterey is the breathtaking, beautiful town my husband and I chose to be married in (even though neither of us has ever lived there nor do either of us know anybody who lives there).
The rest, as they say, is history! At RFM I met the remarkable people we've all come to know and value today. I have to admit, I was first and foremost impressed by the "hook" -- the live video and audio feed that makes you feel as though you are talking to actual PEOPLE and not just impersonal type. But after spending significant time getting to know Jimmy and Jolly, and especially FlyGirl, I became more and more impressed with the philosophy behind Radio Free Monterey. Here was a group of people who were quite consciously putting all of the abstract feelings I had about community on the internet into action while at the same time going with the flow to see where it all goes. I continue to be amazed that they are able (as we've all seen) to continuously expand the technical capabilities of their space while retaining the very personal quality that keeps people (like me) wanting to come back night after night.
It's been almost a year since I first happened across the RFM crew, and in the many hours I've spent at RFM, there has rarely been a dull moment. Even with the seemingly daily changes in the website and all the new additions to the "crew," RFM continues to be an interesting, challenging, always FUN place to hang out. I can't say enough about how amazed I am by the dedication of Jimmy, Jolly and FlyGirl. They never EVER indicate that the eight-hour-a-day commitment they've made and kept to all of us listeners and supporters might be anything but a pleasure and a privilege, which I'm sure it isn't always! But with the dedication and flexibility that these folks have shown, there is no doubt in my mind that RFM will continue to grow and expand beyond anything that can be predicted today.
Where will RFM take its creators? None of us can possibly know, but I for one am excited to find out! If nothing else, someday we will all be able to look back and say, "It may or may not have turned out the way we thought it would, but it's sure been one hell of a ride!"
Thanks for having me along!