If h2g2 Never Existed...

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If h2g2 Never Existed...

Showering can be a dangerous thing, what with the uninterrupted time to think, and all... Back in January, I somehow got to thinking of some what – ifs in my life, including what if I'd not found h2g2, which morphed into what if h2g2 didn't exist at all? Then I started wondering who else had lives that would've been different. And then, the dangerous part – I decided to ask. Not simply by starting a thread in Ask, oh, no; that would've been too simple. You see, I have lots of elvised Researcher friends over on FB1, so posting to Ask would've netted fewer answers for a nosy paper person. So I followed through...

An idea occurred to me...

In April, h2g2 will be 20 years old. Wouldn't a collaborative article/series of articles for The Post be a great thing to surprise Dmitri with
2? I'd edit it, like I did the Venerable Researchers Interviews, though hopefully this wouldn't fizzle out like that did... (And I may be preferring to keep this a surprise so that I don't promise Dmitri yet another thing I don't end up finishing, like those interviews, and the Yellowstone Travelogue...) Unlike the interviews, for this, I only have one question/fill in the blank writing prompt:

If h2g2 never existed...

I gave directions to make things simpler for myself, of course, but we're dealing with h2g2ers, here... Only had one post-deadline submission, though, which is impressive. What is also impressive is that I received 46 responses! Obviously, I'm not going to put them all in one article! Counting my own contribution, there are 47, so this series will be seven articles with six people each, plus one with five. The quotes will be posted in the order in which I saw them3, with any later additions by the same person added to their original quote, instead of as entirely separate quotes4. Some quotes therefore refer to one that is below them in the list, but I'll clarify those when the time comes.

So, first, mine...

If h2g2 never existed...

Well, there's the obvious – I wouldn't know some of my best friends. Then again, if I hadn't met them, I'd have no way of knowing what I was missing, so does that even really count? I mean, the chance that I would've gone to the UK would be somewhere been fat and slim, but again...

So, actual concrete things, that would've been noticeable to an outsider... I likely would not've regained contact with much of my family. I found my dad's side of my family on Facebook. I hadn't been in contact with any of them since shortly after my dad's death in 1997, and most of them for a few years before that. Not because of anything, really (except guilt over not making it to Dad's memorial, as it was the week before my wedding, but I've long since realized I could've given Mom the money to pay for the reserved things), but because I tend to be an out of sight, out of mind type person when it comes to relationships
5 I only joined Facebook when I did because I had 20 invitations from h2g2 Researchers in 24 hours. Or was it 24 in 20? Anyway, I may or may not have joined later anyway, but likely not, because I'd been dragged on kicking and screaming... Even if I had, it would've been years later, and I likely would not've made it to Grandpa Hopper's memorial, because here would've been no way for me to know about it, since we'd moved a few times, and my mom, who would've worked as a point of contact, had died over a decade before.

I don't know that I would've flown before we flew to Tennessee for the househunting trip. My first flight ever was to join the PennsylvaniaDuck (originally PennsylvaniaDutch) Meet, which obviously wouldn't've happened without h2g2. My next flight was to see Grandma one last time, so that one may have happened anyway, though getting from the airport in Portland, Oregon to the Greyhound station to get to Salem, Oregon would've been much more difficult, and keeping a toddler corralled and entertained while waiting...
Much more difficult without the impromptu meet that sprang up after I bought my tickets and then remembered that I knew someone in Portland. And PaperKid definitely wouldn't've had such a cool dinosaur book6... Next flight was to the UK, which I already mentioned. Planning that flight led me to find lots and lots of discount flight sites, which helped with Tom's scouting trip and the househunting trip.

My horizons would be much narrower, both geographically and metaphorically. I don't easily talk to new people, but I'm much better than I think I would be without the... confidence? practice? of talking online with folks for so long. I'm much better at setting boundaries, after realizing that I could not flood PaperBaby with stress hormones while pregnant. I certainly wouldn't know the diversity of people that I do.

And now, the responses...

Oh man.... So many things.

Without H2G2. Where even do I start?

I never would have traveled the entire length of the country to meet up with hootooers. I never would have become an ordained minister to wed a pair of people who met, traversed continents and oceans, and wanted to become man and wife. I never would have flown on the smallest commercial aircraft in the USA with a massive fear of flying, to then get in a car to drive over 1000 miles to meet up with other h2g2ers. I never would have opened up my mind to a diverse crowd of thought and experience. I never would have made some of the closest and dearest friends I keep to this day. The list is way too long to enumerate, but I have met dozens of people from the Guide from several countries. I have stayed up all hours to chat via early voice systems. I would not have created the specific username that I have held for nearly two decades. It defies imagination to think of the hole that would be in my life had I never opened up that email in 1999 about this new service about to open.

"If h2g2 never existed . . ."

Yes, the obvious answer is that I would not have encountered a broad number of people - many who have become fast friends. How-ever, prior to meeting these people, I knew very little of the geography of the world. Sure I knew Canada, and could locate 3 or 4 American states. But I did not know that the UK, England and Great Britain were not all exactly the same thing. I knew very little of how time zones can affect a simple desire to chat with someone. I would know next to nothing about common day-to-day affairs outside of North America. And my bride and I would not have had the adventure of a life-time was when we went to visit 7 of these imaginary friends in England, Wales and Ireland for our 20th wedding anniversary. And besides being in-person with them, and seeing some really interesting places, we also saw their daily lives and met many of their family members and neighbors. Just a morning stroll near Cardiff, Wales had us meeting the early people on the street.

The things learned could be nearly endless, as well as the broad array of subjects and matters that I have conversed about.

Rev Nick
I do actually have a good "If H2G2 never existed," I quite possibly never would have discovered Route 66. It was originally suggested by Number Six in the Collaborative Writing Workshop (I think), inspired by an abandoned Flea Market entry, that became a years-long 8-page University project and a major life obsession for me. I could send you an email on it with lots of details if you like; the likelihood that I would discover something in my own backyard via a (primarily) British website is something I've marveled at more than once.

Another one: without H2G2 I would still be wandering around thinking Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" is a very lazy, unworthy song and one of Joel's worst efforts. Thanks to Ben Bateson I was inspired to learn so much history, researched and wrote about things that would have never interested me. I adore the song now, sing along every time I hear it, and that project is still one of my favorite things I worked on.


Of course, little things like "I wouldn't've met so – and – so" aren't always so little...

Hootoo changed my life completely but only in the predictable way. If there hadn't been a meet in 2003 I wouldn't have got chatting to the man behind me while waiting to bat in a game of rounders in Hyde Park. We wouldn't now be married with two children and our mouse mat wouldn't be the h2g2 one we won in the pub quiz with one corner nibbled off by our nearly 13 year old daughter.
"If h2g2 never existed, I never would've met" so many great people. One of those I first met on H2G2 led to me moving from Northern Ireland to Scotland and for 10 years my whole life was full of people I never would have met without H2G2, most likely. While that other researcher is no longer the love of my live many of those that I met as a result are still friends and colleagues. Indeed I probably wouldn't have stood three times for Westminster if it hadn't been for H2G2.
Demon Drawer

That's all for Part One. Stay turned for Part Two. I hope to get these out regularly, but we'll see how that works out...

General Features Archive

Amy Pawloski

22.04.19 Front Page

Back Issue Page

1Other social media sites exist, but I'm not there...2Though I think he may have an idea that something's up by the time I send this to him...3Which is the order I copy and pasted them into a separate document.4Or else there would've been over 50...5Which is something that h2g2 has helped me with, actually...6 Nor her first kazoo, which I could've done without...

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