I am not what my parents wanted me to be.
To be fair, only one of them had an ideal. The daughter of a schizophrenic born in the early 1900s, she was only beginning to grasp the rudimentary pieces of feminism when she chose to go in a direction modern feminists have since foresworn. To her, men were tools to be exploited. To her, all of humanity was to be exploited. Thwarted in her beauty and her ambition, she tried, and failed, to seize the power of a new generation whose future lies now on what has become the Internet.
Confused? So was I. Her daughter, expected to be brighter, faster, and her duplicate made perfect, I grew up stretched between a son of the Cold War, military-bred, and the daughter of the 60's-era hippie culture who believed she could change the world.
My mother believed in power, and tried to reach it through exploitation, through bargaining, through influence, through thievery. She married my father and attempted to exploit his more reliable friends, and had two children she expected to help resolve her own issues.
I was to be the channel for her ambition. I cannot know now what she intended for my brother: my brilliant, violent, obviously autistic brother who loves to break apart systems. My brother, still incredibly angry, not least of all, at me.
And who am I? I am what happens to the children of the Internet.
I don't think my mother meant for this to happen. Or if she did, she didn't understand what this would become. How could she? She didn't grow up understanding that on the other side of the dial-tone were other people, many of them just as confused as I. She understood that my father could make money from his friends in the Internet business - that, I think, was the end of understanding for her.
But for me, a 10 year old given unsupervised access to a network ever-growing, I was given access to other minds - other people - other perspectives. And this did not fail, and it did not go away.
I wrote hundreds of thousands of words between when I first logged on, and today. I found Slashdot, Everything2. I found Usenet, found fandom, found fanfic, found a thousand doors leading into how this beautiful world had come to be. I found the Jargon File before I even understood what it was to run a server.
No one could, no one can, cut me loose from this endless stream of perspectives, this insight into other lives.
My mother tried, and failed, to exploit, the new generation. She tried to exploit my father's friends, and was predicted, known. They saw my father. They tried to make him successful. They failed, and moved on.
And me? Alone but for the dial-tone? I persevered.
There was nothing else to do. Keep writing. Keep reading. Keep reaching out.
And yet, my father's friends have promised him: if your children ever have need, if they are lost, if they need help: have them call us.
And one day, I had need.
2006, I was alone with my RSIs, jobless, broke, degree-less, driven by the hunger of another exploiter who lacked understanding of why I spent my time staring into the screen. He chose to ignore that I wrote: when I told him I'd written as much as I had, he was slack-jawed. He had no context: he denied it.
But having reached out, I found out for the first time that I was not alone. That others knew of me, of my father, of my mother, and they cared.
And for the first time, I began to understand what I'd grown up with, the legacy that I had, the direction that I had been walking, running, climbing towards from a pre-teen given dial-up to an adult with DSL, to a girl already organizing nerds and engineers to achieve something more.
I was not yet there. I could not yet understand what was coming, or who I would become. But I had my own language, my own tribe, my own future waiting for me: my people who were ready to rescue and instruct.
My tribe is the tribe of the Internet, of the world that will be as it becomes increasingly more connected and aware of what that power of perspective and limitless information is.
My tribe? My tribe are those who built the Internet, and my tribe speaks the language of the stars.