I haven’t taken the time to go scrolling back through my untold numbers of Disqus comments (on three websites) to figure out what the first thing I commented on was. It was either The Dissolve or a blog I follow called Love Joy Feminism. I know I wasn’t commenting on The Dissolve as soon as it started, though I was reading it pretty early on, because its birth coincides with my son’s, and I was busy those first few days and probably even weeks. However, I, like so many others, found a home there. One which from which we were, as we all now know, rudely evicted last week.
I know. I’m late off the mark, here. It’s been a busy week (see also “week my son was born”!), and while The Dissolve was officially dissolved on the day I post my usual column, I discovered it with about half an hour to go before I had to leave the house on family business, and that’s just not time to post a proper eulogy.
As I’ve touched on elsewhere, there are a lot of possible reasons that media can make us cry. Someone somewhere will judge you for all of them. However, in the case of The Dissolve, it wasn’t the media itself, yet I think this is likely to be the most judged emotional trigger of all, because the internet is so new. It’s hard, I think, for a lot of people to realize that people you know exclusively on the internet, who may not even be on the same continent as you, can really be friends.
Three of my internet friends have actually died over the years, and I have grieved all of them deeply. And every time, it was hard to explain to some people (notably the therapist I had when the first one died) that, yes, I’m aware that On the Internet, No One Knows You’re a Dog, but who cares? Even if everything I knew about these people was made up—and I’d actually met one of them in person once, for all that matters—I lost someone anyway. I cried when Ellie died at the beginning of Up, and I’d never interacted with her. Why should I not cry for Mak and Mike and Henrik?
And why should I not cry for The Dissolve? It struck me, reading the tributes elsewhere online, that pretty well all of them spoke not just to the fine writing you’d get just reading the site but also to the fine community you’d find if you violated the First Law of the Internet and read the comments. You are reading these words, and I am writing them, because we all read the comments and discovered that we cared what everyone had to say. Or almost everyone. You know who you are.
In a way, The Dissolve won’t die. Not for some time to come. As I write these words, the Facebook group is up to just shy of six hundred members. I’ve acquired something like forty new Facebook friends in the last week. At least two attempts at a proper forum have begun; one has all the same problems as Facebook, and we’ll see how the other goes. And, of course, The Solute exists. We’re holding on.
However, we did lose something when our parent site was taken from us. I, for one, would like to know if it’s a good, bad, or neutral week for women in film, and I simply don’t have the time to track down all the articles that would tell me on my own. It is also, in my opinion, harder to gain new voices. I fully approve of the decision to keep the Facebook group closed, because wow, that could get obnoxious, but at the same time, there are a lot of film-lovers out there who are not terribly likely to become part of the conversation, and we lose something by being insular, even if we gain protection from trolls and spammers.
I am glad that we are continuing the journey, wherever it takes us, and I love having people with whom to discuss weird bits in film that no one else notices. Even if I don’t like Woody Allen or various other icons of film, you guys have always been willing to forgive that. I appreciate it.