This is a short version of my life story. This is what led me to becoming a Ning Creator, and a proud owner of a photographic social network.
If you choose to read this, I would invite you to post your story in the comments, and tell us all your tale, of how you came to where you are today.
My name is Damien, nice to meet you.
I used to live in Ontario, in a little town called Oshawa. It is pretty close to Toronto, and it wasn't really a "pretty" place. I was born and raised in Oshawa, and literally hated every minute of it. All of my life I knew something was wrong. Not with me, but with the world. All of these humans, so intelligent, so diverse, such an amazing species... but why are they so destructive? Why are they committing mass suicide by making furniture and paper out of trees, the very thing that allows us to breathe, when hemp can do just as well... why do they have this.... money system.... that holds back technologies for profit maximization, and makes people live a life not of their own, but of what is allowable, given the amount of money you have. Have a million dollars, you can do anything, have no money, you're as good as dead. Why are we so lost, when we are all so intelligent? The city, and the general attitudes that come with it (starting in public school) was really, really getting to me. I didn't want to do it anymore, it felt so fake. I was fed up with life, about to give up, when my mother called me from BC, saying she heard from my grandmother about my mental struggles with city life. She offered to move me out to BC with her, and so I got rid of everything, and I mean everything I owned minus 2 luggage bags, got on a plane, and embarked on a new step in life... a life I may not have had any longer should I have stayed... I was on the plane, completely empty inside. My best friend of 18 years, my grandparents and most of my extended family, my cat Lily, my now ex-girlfriend, my possessions, my history, my home, now gone. They were somewhere down below me, thousands of feet down, mixed in with the rest of the world.... gone.
Let me tell you, this is not an easy thing to do. Then again, neither is taking your own life, so it was one or the other in my world. Thankfully in retrospect, I'm still here.
Upon arriving in British Columbia, I was instantly enveloped by mountains, fresh air (I noticed immediately,) and welcoming arms as my Mother hugged me with tears in her eyes, not seeing her first born for at least 4 years before this moment. There's nothing like a mother's embrace, I don't care what anybody says, in my existence, I've experienced a lot, a lot of good, a lot of bad, a lot of highs (drugs) a lot of lows (depression) and when you've not seen your mother in years, being in the state I was in, you appreciate just the smell of her, and you will remember the smell, it's instinct (yes, we still have those hidden within the technological addictions and misleading perceptions!)
I would like to say before I continue, that when I got off the plane, it's like my brain and my emotions just switched. I accepted it all, and almost felt the wave of a new life, a clean slate. It was rather nice. What I was used to, buildings and concrete, had now been replaced with nature and sheer intrigue within my head. Within a week I walked up a mountain, came face to face with two deer, and ended my journey upwards when I came across a bear track!!! WHAT!!!
I had to buy a camera. I went to the local electronics store, and bought my Fujifilm XP20 digital camera. Within I'd say two to three weeks, I had almost 10 gigabytes in photos! I was truly obsessed... and still am! My addiction to photography took the next step when I was so excited to share my photography, and couldn't wait to see the comments people would leave. I would upload photo after photo to Facebook, and posted to photography group after group, but really only receiving maybe 10 likes MAX per every tenth photo upload. I felt I wasn't reaching anybody due to the broad usage of Facebook, I felt there was no real direction, just a blurb of stale information. So, I looked into ways to create your own social network. I came across two leaders in network creation, SocialGo, and Ning. Ning was more expensive, and I wasn't sure how possible things were, so I went with the cheaper option, SocialGo. Now, this site is excellent for community building, however their mobile abilities are lacking, and a few other things were just not right for the idea in my head. I ran the network for about three months on SocialGo, and it became stale. I realized it was time for the upgrade. So I moved to Ning. Unfortunately there is no "Migrate" ability within SocialGo, so the network had to be deleted, and completely re-written. Ning is an amazing platform, and there's more to come from them. When new stuff comes from them, new stuff comes to you! So there you have it, my addiction to photography has led to the creation of Addictapic. I realized that there is a real need for a new social network, one that recognizes it's members as people, not just advertisement statistics, and pocket lining pawns. The people who are addicted to these networks, get nothing in return. There is no full circle there, this sounds like my old city life, but in a different way. Hmmm... I looked around online to see what was out there for social networks... yup, all advertising, all raking in millions. I had an epiphany at that moment. I would then set out on a mission, to build my own social network, and to make it so that if it makes money, those who contributed to the money being made, will also profit, sharing the overall wealth of the network. Why would I do this? I'm not greedy, I don't need millions. I see a need, I've always wanted my own business, I'm now obsessed with photography... it just made sense.... Addictapic was born.
This social network, devoted to photography, is my pride and joy. I'm thankful that my past in Ontario didn't take me, it's now all I do. I take photos, I upload them to Addictapic, I work on Addictapic, I advertise Addictapic. Oh, I'm also a chef here in town now, well, I cook I guess, but I consider that my side job.
So, I guess that's it for now, that's me in a nutshell. I used to be a very lonely, quiet, depressed person, hating everything, and now, I live in beautiful British Columbia, I own a social network, and i have found a true passion in photography!
I plan to do some more blogging, most likely on my own network, so I'll suggest that if you would like to read more from me in the future, or if perhaps you're into photography, please come find me on http://addictapic.com I'm always there, when I'm not cooking.
Thank you for reading!
I rarely read long posts, mostly due to time, but also because I get bored easily - - I'm probably a major candidate for ADHD! =) I found your story very touching. You're a good writer. I'm writing to wish you tremendous success throughout your life, and to say I'm happy that you're no longer depressed and lonely, but happy and moving forward in a positive way!
Thank you very much Jen! Life has definitely been a mission for me, I know that many others have had it much worse than myself, but I am now proud of myself for fighting for my life, and taking it back. I hope my story gives other people strength if they're feeling like giving up, even in other contexts, such as developing a Ning Network that seems to not be working... hang in there, give everything you have, believe in yourself and your abilities, and strive for your own betterment. It works out in the end, and if not, have pride at least that you never gave up, you are stronger than life itself, if you choose to be.
Thank you Jen, I appreciate your comment. :)
My pleasure, Damien.
Right on Damien,
I'd like to echo Jen's sentiments. Also, I think there's a place for telling your story here on Ning Creators. In my opinion it's an essential aspect of community support- that there are real people behind these networks and doing this can have significant impacts in your life and what you want to accomplish.
Critique my site might not be the best category, and most creators tend to use Community Support for asking more technical questions. I agree the ideal social module for this kind of thing is the blog. It's perfectly suited for writing in a process of self-disclosure. Unfortunately, most Ning Creators had a tendency to use it in more of a forum context, so they took that application down. Who knows? Maybe between the upcoming community redesign or the next version of blog application they will ring it back to some degree.
I welcome this kind of networking on my Ning Creators group A Social Media Dojo. So if you like, it will be my pleasure to network with you and talk about your story and project there too. http://creators.ning.com/group/a-social-media-dojo/forum/topics/int....
I personally spend a lot of time on the computer. So it is critical for me to find balance and stay tuned in to what really matters. I actually spend most of my time outside whether that be playing soccer with my friends or getting out into nature. I agree with your impression of Facebook and that really is a great selling point for building personalized, customized, passionate social websites. Being online too much, and you can easily become affected by all the general apathy and anonymity. You would think social applications address that, but I think pails in comparison to the real thing in person.
I also agree with some of the same phenomena in city life. Some places with more people are actually less social. People might walk around with their eyes on the ground trying to reserve their privacy to their own localized social circles. In my town, people will say hi to you randomly, offer you a smile, nod, greeting, or compliment without hesitation. You can feel pretty secure just striking up a conversation with anyone you meet without worry of awkwardness. At the same time, just the infrastructure of buildings, walls, and other barriers can get to people. At home on your computer it can sometimes seem like the walls are closing in on you, lol! I think it does have an effect on people when most of what they see is driving from A to B.
So one of the great things about walking out into nature is that it can activate a million senses wired into your instincts. Just the direction and weight of the wind, the movements of critters, the affect of taking a step on your surroundings- great photography can capture that. Even if not simulating it to perfection, such social media can remind people of what they're missing- perhaps something they might need to sustain and inspire them in their online projects.
Good on you for sharing, and welcome to the community!
Thank you very much Anthony! Glad to read that you understood my words! I do agree, I was looking for a blog section, and could not find one, I was looking for an appropriate section (introduce, etc) but there wasn't one, That is why I named it The Person Behind The Network... I'm kind of hoping Ning will create a category called this, so that we may share our stories in the manner that I have. I put this post in Critique my site, only because it seemed most appropriate, since I do link to my network. I really don't want to break Ning rules, or disturb other creators, so I apologize for this misplaced post, please Ning, create a Category called "The People Behind The Networks."
oh, and thank you VERY much for featuring this post today Ning! I truly didn't expect that! :) I appreciate it!