Today I’m thankful to be a part of an amazing, small, spontaneously-formed online community called the UCF. It stands for, variously, Union of Collaborating Founders, Us Cool Folks, or United Cranky F***ers, depending on the day.
Some history… A few years ago, prominent SF author John Scalzi started a discussion board on his popular, heavily commented blog. A small group of us hit it off in that environment, primarily around a hilarious, long-running thread about the Future Emperor of the Universe. Many were unhappy with the lack of moderation and left when the trolls took over the playground, and the original forum eventually faded away. Our small group stayed together. We gradually migrated to each others’ blogs, pulling a few others into our orbit as we coalesced, and then to an email list and our own community forum.
Today there are about 20 of us, give or take, who have become fast friends over the years. We are far from like-minded, but do have a few things in common:
- All of us are avid readers.
- Most of us are SF fans, but not all… some prefer horror or fantasy.
- Many of us have blogs, but not all, and we’ve peer-pressured a couple of folks into starting blogs along the way.
- Some of us write creatively and enjoy each others’ support with that, but many others have no interest.
- Most of us are fairly politically and/or socially liberal, but not all – there are conservatives, libertarians and independents among us.
- I think all of us are huge fans of science, but only some of us are avid followers of politics.
- Most of us are fairly well educated but others have chosen different paths to success.
- Our ages range from late 20s to late 50s – some married, some single, some with children and some child-free.
- Many of us facebook, tweet, text and snail mail each other, but some choose not to.
- Most of us have met one or more other UCF members in real life, and some have met several – myself included.
- And, finally, all of us are articulate, outspoken communicators who are caring and supportive of each other.
We have no goal, no mission, no leadership, no rules (in spite of the future emperor being among our ranks). We have described ourselves as an online secret society devoted to threadjacking, debunking bad science and practicing covert espionage around the world. And yet we’ve supported each other emotionally and practically, through divorce, death in the family, loss of a home, loss of a job, going back to college, child crises and more. (In fact, we can all agree, I think, that 2010 has been a cursed year for most.)
These amazing people (many linked on the blogroll to the right), discovered through the most unlikely of scenarios, are my family of choice. I am intensely grateful for their love and companionship.