6:32 AM, January 26, 2011
Ron finally succumbs to his alarm's wail and hops out of bed. First things first: put on some shorts and head over to the computer to start the morning ritual. Gmail, Facebook, Cyanide and Happiness, etc. He always saves the one he spends the most time on for last. He heads to Destructoid.com. He doesn't bother look at the recent blogs on the sidebar, he finds it too depressing. He remembers what they were once. He doesn't know if he's the only one, but he knows that he still remembers.
The big news this morning is Microsoft boasting the XBOX 360 Slim's low failure rate. Everyone knows better though. Those numbers will climb with every passing month. Everyone's been here too long. Well, almost everyone.
Ron finishes reading the news and closes the browser. He heads over to his closet and tries to decide which of his shirts to wear to class. An old favorite seems to wink at him from the corner, and, for old time's sake, he feels he owes the shirt another wear. It's been a while, after all. Before tossing it on, he stops. He pulls the shirt from around his head and stares at the design for a while. He plops on the bed and stares, feeling what feels like a hint of a watery eye coming on. The robot Jolly-Rodger stares back at him, understanding his feelings. He understands why the man is feeling the way he does.
Ron never felt this way when he and the shirt first met. It had been two, maybe three years ago. The shirt, a majestic, limited run shirt boasted in fantastically stylized letters the words Destructoid.com. This was Ron's merit badge; his patch; his carrying card. He was a member of the Destructoid Army, and he wanted everyone to know it. Now, however, his feelings were not quite as strong. It seemed to him not much more than a place to get news and reviews that were less review and more witch burning. He used to be there for the community, but the community changed, no longer the thing it was in the early days.
Ron, finally fighting back his feelings and feeling foolish for feeling them, decides against wearing the shirt. Instead, he opts for the Destructoid beanie his girlfriend bought him about a year ago. It is cold after all, and wearing both of the items would seem like overkill. It's comparable to an emo kid and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Ron heads out, driving his car to campus and hitching a ride on the campus shuttle bus. Another student on the bus recognizes his hat, and introduces himself. "HI!! I'm Jeremy, but I'm _________ on the site!!!" Ron doesn't even bother listening to his alias, he knows he won't recognize it. He talks about the latest news with the guy. Ugh, thinks Ron, he's a fanboy. This guy is actually trying to defend the 360 Slim's failure rate. Ron has been around the site too long, and he remembers the trolls and the fanboys of days long gone. He knows to keep his mouth shut. He then asks the future Microsoft PR robot to change the subject, and he then starts talking about the C-blogs. the Micro-nut talks about the latest stories and blogs Ron didn't read, while Ron nods politely.
Ron has an hour to kill before his next class, so he finds a nice, quiet, Wi-Fi enabled spot and hops on the IRC chats, just for shits and giggles. He hangs out the the maniacs and perverts of old times past. He remembers what the site was like when they were there. They talk about it for a while, and they call it the "Wild West." Things were so experimental back then. You could get away with so much. You could be the biggest dick in the world and people would love you for it. Ron mentions Reaprar and, suddenly and abruptly, the IRC goes silent. BigPopaGamer is the first to recover. "I haven't heard that name in years." "No one has," replied the rest of the room. Ron leaves the chatroom, more depressed and nostalgic than when he entered.
Ron hops on the site and, just for the hell of it, decides to look at the C-blogs. There are some names he recognizes, some veterans, but he doesn't get the same feeling he used to get. It feels like they were the ones that stayed behind because they knew nothing else. The others took their allegiance elsewhere when the law came to town, but these poor souls stayed. They stayed but are the sole remnants of a lifestyle long gone, of a magic of community and brotherhood that is simply not there anymore. They are the addicts, trying desperately to to get just one more fix after the reservoirs have long since dried up. The others are here but are trying to keep their head above the crowd of children. The rest have taken their piracy and brotherhood elsewhere, trying to thrive where ever they can. Ron remembers the pride he had to think he was a member of something great, something greater than himself. But the bubble popped long ago, and the flood took the mirage with it. Ron wonders what all this makes him. A sad figure lurking in the background?
And then, in the dead of the night, a tear for crippled giants.