First of all, I don't owe anyone an explanation individually. But since there are a few people out there who wonder why I am pulling out of the public scene, I thought I would try to explain my reasons in the hopes that maybe a few people would understand. I do not have a problem sharing these reasons, but if you intend to attack me for them, you should stop reading now. I don't want to hear it.
Basically, I unplugged for 2 general reasons. Firstly, I pulled out for personal reasons. Secondly, I pulled out because hacking wasn't fun anymore. For those of you who are genuinely interested, I will gladly explain.
As far as personal things go, you have to understand that the word personal infers that I am, in fact, a "person". Somehow people think that hackers are all a bunch of punk kids who have no real life problems and run around without a care in the world. Hackers are people. I am a hacker, but I still love my country. I still love my family. I believe in God. I am not ashamed to admit any of these things, but somehow people lose sight of the fact that we are all real people with real lives. We have real hopes and real dreams. We face real triumphs and real tragedies. We find real love and face real heartbreak. Life changing events happen and hacking takes a backseat to real life. If you have ever heard my radio show, you would know that I have said this many times. I guess now you all know that I meant it. Never let the important things in your life take a backseat to anything.
In my real life, I have had some pretty big events happen lately. I have kept them private while continuing to work on numerous projects to help keep my mind off of things. My 82 year old grandmother recently moved down here to South Florida. She is the only grandparent that I have left and I love her dearly. I have been spending as much time as I could with her lately. For the most part, she is healthy for an 82 year old woman, and she is blessed to be well enough to enjoy life and live independently. Spending quality time with her is my number one priority above all else on this planet. I have been able to balance my time with her and all of the other things in my life fairly well until last month. I had another life changing event that altered my path. I was offered a job that requires me to move out of South Florida and I accepted it. It is a great opportunity for me doing something I love (programming) and using my education and my 15+ years of experience in the computer industry. It was an offer that I could not refuse. This is a very good thing and I am very happy with these changes in my life and my grandmother is happy for me as well.
The reality that I am left with, however, is that I will be physically packing my entire life and moving within a month or so. In that time period, I must sell my house and buy a new house. This means packing up everything I own and repairing my old house to sell it, which is what I have been doing since the beginning of July. As if that weren't enough, I am determined to start this new job on the right foot and really attack it with every fiber of my being. Some of you out there know how hard I work and how I give 337% on everything I do, whether it is writing "show novels" for BRR, researching material for an article, or editing HackTV. I take pride in everything I do. I was always taught that anything worth doing, is worth doing right. I want to do my very best at this new job and after my grandmother, I intend to focus the rest of my concentration on this new job.
All of these events just made me step back and realize that the balance had shifted temporarily. I could no longer juggle hacking and life. I needed to borrow from my "hacking time" to pay my "real life time" to help counter-balance the needs that I now faced. I started making plans to slowly pull out a few months ago as these changes became imminent. I made sure that the radio show would be taken care of months ago (around episode 80 to put it in perspective) and I started asking the guys in DDP to pick up some of the slack for me and carry me for a while. These guys are all so great, that not one...not a single one of them...hesitated to rescue me. I probably don't tell them enough how much I appreciate them. They are not only friends, but they are like brothers to me. I was willing to completely leave the hacking scene to concentrate on real life, but they made it possible for me to stick around...and want to stick around. This leads me to the other reason I unplugged...
The other reason is that no matter how hard I tried to keep it fun, hacking ceased being fun to me. Certainly, the real life things probably weighed into that, but it was more than that. Hacking was slowly losing its fun day by day over the past year or so anyway. There are a lot of great people in this community. There is no doubt of that. I have met several of them at different conferences. I have gotten heartwarming email from them that helped my regain some of my love of hacking. I have seen and heard a lot of great comments from people and I appreciate them all. I sincerely do. But I also got a lot of negative mail and read lots of negative comments from people as well. And they seemed to far outway the positive comments. I see the blog posts of people attacking me and insulting me. I hear the comments people make on conferences. I see the insulting messages people post in forums ( even in my *OWN DAMN FORUMS*) or put in their videos. What did I do to deserve this? I thought we were all on the same team?
Now it is easy for people to say "just ignore people like that". And actually, I am very, VERY good at ignoring people like that. I simply do not have time in my life for negative people in general. I do my very best to help out anyone who asks. But slowly, over time, they start to weigh on you. There are people out there who need help. They don't understand what hacking is. They just don't get it. But that doesn't mean that they shouldn't be helped. They may just need guidance. I have met people who were complete jerks when I first met them. They didn't know that they were being jerks because no one ever told them that they were doing the wrong things. I like to teach people the right things. But sometimes, you can't help those who don't want to be helped. Maybe I come across too strong. I guess that is my weakness, that I speak my mind. May that makes me arrogant, I don't know. Anyone who really knows me, knows that they can ask me for anything and they know I will do as much as humanly possibly to help them out. All I can do is the best that I can. Some days, that just isn't enough for some people.
Then there are other little things that make me feel bad. I get messages from people who are angry with me that I didn't answer their email. They don't understand that I get literally dozens of emails every day and I simply cannot answer them all. I wish I could, but I simply can't. Logistically, I started to feel that I was stretching myself to thin. When you are the type of person who wants to help EVERYBODY and you don't have time to GET TO everybody, it gets frustrating. And I do not have any "real life time" to borrow from anymore to do that. This is slightly frustrating, but since there is simply nothing that I can do about it (I can't alter the flow of time...yet), I have to suck it up and move on with life the best that I can.
The proverbial straw that broke the camels back, was really nothing big or overly frustrating so much as simply bad timing. I was trying my very best to do everything that I could to keep contributing to this community to the best of my ability and to keep putting out content and balance all of the things that I have been talking about and suddenly, I hit the wall. I had enough. Had I seen another random person making a bad comment, I probably could have ignored it. Had I seen yet another blog of someone talking about how much one of my projects or articles sucked, I would have brushed it off. If I had seen another ignorant "journalist" using me to sell his fear-laden articles, I would have laughed it off. Instead, what I saw was someone who I thought was a friend publicly humiliate me at the precise moment when I needed support. When I was at the end of my rope, no one was there to give me a boost. Instead, they kicked me right off.
Now, it is irrelevant to single anyone out, particularly because they probably didn't mean it to come across the way that it did. I understand that, and I don't blame them. But what it did was open my eyes. I realized the hard truth that while there are some great people out there, there are others that simply don't care about you one way or the other. It does not matter how much you give to them, they are never satisfied. They cannot enjoy anything without criticizing it. I don't know what personality trait this is, or if it is more or less prevalent in the hacker community, but I don't like it. I suddenly opened my eyes to the fact that every single thing I do is scrutinized. Here I thought that I was educating people with a radio show and having fun. I was being made fun of. I thought that I was entertaining people with a hacking television show. I was being insulted. I thought that I was providing useful services and projects that people inside (and outside) of the community could enjoy. They were simply being attacked. The thing that I didn't understand, and the thing that bothered me most, was that while all of these people were bitching and complaining about me, not a single person stood up and defended me. Not a SINGLE ONE. No posts of support. No posts defending false allegations. Nothing but silent acceptance.
This is not what the hacking spirit is all about and I don't want to be a part of it right now. It is a terrible feeling to suddenly realize that nobody cares enough to have your back.
I will never understand why some people seem to think that constantly complaining and being negative about everything can ever generate anything positive. All that you do is chase people away. New people need advice and information. Don't insult them, help them! Returning people are looking for another chance. Reach out to them, do not reinforce the negative image that caused them to leave in the first place. And the people that have managed to stay around for any length of time...just support them. You don't have to agree with them. You don't have to like them. But you will respect them. I do not need my ego stroked, nor do I need to hear a "thank you". I just don't think that I deserve the personal attacks, scrutiny and lack of common courtesy that I have been given.
So I do thank the people who have emailed me in recent weeks. I do appreciate that some people cared enough about my well being to email me and say a simple "thanks" or to offer their help and sympathy for my well being. I am honestly touched. You leave me with a great joy to know that there are some people in this community who are genuine and good hearted people. My fellow hackers...my fellow human beings. If I do come back, after some hiatus, it is because of people like you. I cannot list everyone, but you know who you are. I do have to single out my fellow DDP members (past, present, and future) for all of their support. I am proud of what they have accomplished..what we have accomplished. Thanks for keeping hacking fun. Thanks to Acidus, Decius, Elonka, rockit, droops, GIJoe, Dr^Zigman, LogosX, PixelFiend, xlogicx, austin, and Zearle. All of whom were always positive and supportive people to whom I give much deserved respect. And even with all of this, I still have not forgotten about decoder who is going through some pretty rough real life stuff as well. I am still thinking of you my friend. Trust me when I say that *I* have got *your* back.
I am still around, just no longer in the public eye. I have to stick with those people who I trust to be good people and stay away from the critics and the community that simply doesn't want me. I don't have time to be hated. I will continue to write. I will continue to keep making sites and starting projects and programming. The sites/forum/shows/projects/etc... will stick around as long as I can afford them. The DDP will still exist and grow. I will never stop hacking because I love it. If anything, I am able to dedicate more time to it because of this. I have a lot of great friends in this community. They are friends that hopefully will last my entire lifetime. I will never stop hacking. It is a part of me. It is what makes up who I am.
I am StankDawg.
I am a hacker.