Oasis is 17 years old today!
One more year, and I can sleep with it legally!
Happy Birthday Oasis!
The ducks will get you!
I imprinted this site a long time ago, like Jacob and Renesmee Cullen. Destiny.
"I am living this life as lovingly as I can be as flawed as I am." - Brandon Lacy Campos
Now all we need is a giant birthday cake with a stripper in it.
from my current vantage point, I can see back no further than January 2003!
Is this problem in some way related to the speed of light...? :)
Once you're done reading all of 2003, let me know and I'll put another old year up. ;-)
May I safely assume that this is not a limited time offer? :)
However, by looking back at Oasis activity for the week of 25Nov-2Dec 9 years ago, there were 46 individually posted journals (average number of comments per journal: 2.3). 3+ pages just to list all truncated journals for this one week!
This year during the same week, there have been only 15 journals (including this 17-year announcement). All truncated journals fitting on a single page!
Also... back then (i.e., 2003) I see that the number of "reads" each journal achieved is displayed. 80 "reads" being typical, but some were well into the 100s! I'd assume that this count is only of registered users? This "service" seems to have been deleted at some time in the past... :(
As I know of no comparable meeting place for LGBT youth and supporters that even approaches the quality of Oasis... I find this decline in activity quite inexplicable! :(
Do something! Tell your trusted friends about this wonderful meeting spot... for a start...
In some ways, it is hard to tell whether the declining stuff is negative. When Oasis launched, there was literally no other site where LGBT youth had a voice. There were sites targeting them to attend local youth groups and such, but this is where they actually wrote, and on deadline, no less (as the original Oasis was a monthly online magazine of handcoded HTML, since the site came out before popular tools like Dreamweaver, etc.).
The average age of the users at launch was much higher, as people came out later then, typically at the start of college, etc. Although many closeted people in high school also posted. This was also before digital cameras and easy access to scanners, so when we first launched, most people sent me the only scanned photo they had to post on the site: their nude. So, I quickly cropped these pics (illegal in some cases), and drew T-shirt collars on them, and the site always looked rather proper, heh.
So, over time, the ages have kept coming down, society as a whole has gotten better on gay acceptance, and social networks like MySpace (RIP), Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr rule. For example, you are using polling data from a year before Facebook even existed, as that entire site started in 2004.
Now, community can exist anywhere. On Tumblr, you can post stuff about being gay anonymously or as openly as you want, other people follow you that are gay, and over time, you have a dozen or so people who have their own group. But that group can also exist within a larger tapestry where you also write about music, politics, high school, yet still be separate.
So, I think technology mirrors the way people have come to integrate their sexuality within their life in general. You used to sort of start over, abandon a lot of your straight friends, and make exclusively gay friends, and that is no longer true. People in high school now come out, stay within their same peer groups and just look to date someone, so the whole breaking away element no longer exists for most. You just deal with the awkwardness of being the gay person in a largely straight group, and try to find gay community that is as integrated as possible within your everyday existence.
Oasis has always been a pit stop for people. When they learn they are gay, they come here, talk it through, find friends, and build themselves up to acceptance and come out. After that, they leave. And, over time, the length of time a lot of people stay on the site has decreased, since society is more accepting. A lot of members now aren't really here to sort out being gay anymore, they just stay because they like the community.
One of the other unique elements is that Oasis, aside from my comments, is rarely sexual, which used to be a selling point. But now, we have a generation raised on available online porn-on-demand, and that too seems to be less of a big deal, since people are now more likely to incorporate in-your-face sexuality into their daily lives more easily, since it is part of the culture. Plus, all of the social networks let you block people, so if anyone gets too sexual, you can remove them from your online existence with one click.
One of the few features that is still important is that Oasis isn't interested in people's real identities, whereas the rest of the Internet is moving toward a desire for a persistent identity. You can lie, but Facebook wants me to be Jeff Walsh on there, and to only post as Jeff Walsh, and to track me as Jeff Walsh from year to year. YouTube just changed to encourage people to post with their real names as well. So, there is a move away from anonymous space that is negative, and I find persistent identity negative, as well.
Oasis does integrate people in a way no other site does. We don't have a lesbian forum, or anything, so people always mixed. Boys post and get feedback from girls, etc. So, that is unique.
Oasis does champion engagement, people replying to things they read, welcoming new members, which is unique. Even on Tumblr, you can repost things that interest you, and get people to click it as a favorite, or get people to click Like on something posted to Facebook, but they don't communicate. Not really. As for the feature about number of reads, it became sort of a competition, where people would champion how many people read them, but then other people who got less reads would just use that to fuel their 'woe is me' view of life (which is more likely why less people read them in the first place), so I disabled that feature, since it inflated and crushed egos, but had no other value, and Oasis isn't about a competition, it's about community.
But, there is the question whether Oasis has a role to play in the near future. Does it need to celebrate a 20th anniversary? Or is society and technology making sexuality more integrated so that less of a dedicated site is needed?
Cases can be made in either direction.
No argument from me!
I continue to feel, however, that the demographic comprising those LGBTs who currently enjoy the security and conviviality provided by Oasis is grossly under-represented. These special qualities --- security, especially --- provided by Oasis are hardly evident in any of the newer online venues mentioned in your analysis... or, am I mistaken?
Privacy and security are pretty standard. The main difference being if you're in a private gay group on Facebook and closeted and something goes wrong, you get outed. So, since Oasis is its own thing, even if we were hacked or somesuch, no one would be as affected.
There are other LGBT youth-specific networks, mainly Matthew's Place or TrevorSpace, and I'm sure they can still help people, but they always seemed rather boring to me, very moderated, controlled, and not to mention I find it weird to hang out in places named after dead or nonexistent people. But they raise a boatload of cash, so they will always be funded and have staff. I mean, if you look at Trevor Project, their level of visibility/fundraising is completely at odds with their usefulness. When I saw the number of calls they took in a year, it sounded like they mostly sit there waiting for the phone to ring. But they get benefits, red carpets, etc., so hard to compete with that.
As for the level of engagement, Oasis is the anomaly, so there will always be some people attracted to it, but hard to say if that is a huge draw across the board.
I have to admit, before I found this site, I had no direct connection to anyone LGBT. Except, of course, for people I would meet in person. In fact, the first person I actually came out to was a female(lesbian) friend of mine, who joined our sister company as a parts driver. We hung out quite a bit and I would attend parties she threw. I have'nt actually seen her in months, but I'm sure we'll bump heads again.
I wish I had found this site sooner, but I was still quite confused and scared shitless of myself as a high-schooler. Regardless, you've created a wonderful forum and this site is very unique.
Oasis is already legal. We've hooked up a few times already ;) lolol
jeff omg i love you
But all that Jeff has written above serves to underscore even more the need to preserve Oasis and expand its participating membership.
I can easily envisage that for each of the current active members of Oasis, there are 100s more who have not the slightest idea of this safe refuge for informational and confidential exchanges on the issues that many LGBT youth find so challenging and frustrating.
Oasis is a true gem; it should not be allowed to wither!
One idea: Contact GSA leaders in High Schools and Colleges and elicit their cooperation to discreetly spread the word?
There is no other venue as welcoming and secure... and it's spam free (usually)!
not inspire angel to question his gut reactions so quickly... ;-)
when everybody knows about it.
If you are not getting confirmation e-mails from Oasis to complete your membership, don't hesitate to e-mail jeff at oasismag dot com. Be sure to include your username.