Hello everyone, wanted to contribute here.
I first began posting on the Citadel, approximately 1998-99, thereabouts. I've had a lot of screen names and I couldn't tell you for sure what I would have been using at the time.
OP: I can't remember the specific site, but I do remember some kind of background drama back then. The Citadel used a green tinted version of the FFVII logo which was unique to us, and we were pretty fond of it. In those days I posted on several different FFVII forums. Most were attached to free-hosted websites with generic content that was never updated. Many didn't even have an active Mod. It was anarchy and forums would descend into flame wars, or attacked with malicious HTML.
In time most of these forums went away, and services like InsideTheWeb disappeared forever. The Citadel was the last man standing, and had the highest quality of forums anyway considering it's always had active moderation. I continued posting regularly for years, until I entered adulthood and encountered real issues that would pull me away.
I had a lot of friends here, both on the board and off the board via AIM or whatever was being used at the time. There were few fellow Citadel posters that really impacted me on a personal level. That I think about semi-regularly at least. That may have shaped who I am, on some level. So I wanted to take a moment here to really recognize them.
Uncle Elmo, or Ellis, is the reason I'm posting here today. My partner and I had an argument over how a particular Welsh word was pronounced, which led to us looking up on you tube. To my shock, the first result was from none other than Uncle Elmo himself; I recognized his full name. And so for the first time in my life, I look up how a Welsh word is pronounced. And literally the only Welsh person I've ever known in my life is the first result, explaining it to me.
And that's what's inspired me to come check out the Citadel again, to look him up on facebook, etc.
So I knew Elmo before I ever posted on the Citadel. He was one of the only other people I knew who was posting on quite nearly every FFVII related board in InsideTheWeb. At the time, I was most active on PsychoCloud's board, but there were many others. Communities would get very active and die out, as I mentioned above. Most people also had a person board for discussion with them personally.
He was known as the agony Uncle, as he was the person you could count on to let you vent about your problems, or seek out advice. He was positive all the time. Kind, all the time. I've known him literally since I was 12, and am now 31. He was one of, if not the first, non-U.S. person I came into correspondence with online. He was for sure the first person I knew of who was involved in an online relationship. I gained a better understanding of the U.K. and Wales, at a young age, thanks to him. I will absolutely never forget him, and when I think back to those early days when I first got the internet as an adolescent, he is a huge part of that.
SOLDIER officer 81
So, SOLDIER officer 81. In this case I never learned his real name, although he neither learned mine. It wasn't necessary to have your real name out there then. I met him a little later than Elmo, I was probably 14 to 15 at the time.
Lots of history there. I didn't like him at first. He was a conservative, a was a teenage socialist. I thought he and his brother were the same person at first and made an issue of it to Cyrus. In return, he figured out my real name wasn't Gustav in a clever way (I had taken from Saga Frontier II and a character in a Harry Turtledove book; my real name is Jesse) and exposed it.
Over the years though , he became one of my favorite residents here. We would get into huge debates over politics or religion. I would spend so much time preparing a response to him. Looking things up and reading. Retyping and rewording. I would think I had crafted the perfect argument! "How will SOLDIER possibly respond to this?"
And then the reply came. My post would be picked apart sentence by sentence with fallacies and inconsistencies highlighted. And then it was back to the drawing board. I would get so frustrated. Once, in a discussion on a private part of the forum I wasn't supposed to have access to, SOLDIER, talking to someone else, said: "Death has shown an intelligence to rival my own, but has completely changed his personality so many times it makes me think he's some sort of wacko." I beamed on the inside when I read it. Here this guy was, who I thought of as super intelligent, who I could never get ahead of on any topic we engaged on in Serious Discussion, saying something positive about my own intelligence. It affected me so much and I've recalled that very specific event so many times. As for the wacko part, as in those days I was using the internet as a roleplay outlet, and would assume different characters based on my teenage whimsical phases, so I understood it completely.
I also talked to SOLDIER off of the board. I would subject him to my teenage boredom, and try to think of topics I knew might set him off. "I think I'm going to be a vegetarian." Something like that. He actually very rarely took the bait, and most super serious debates occurred on these forums. He was one of the only friends I had on AIM who I could reliably count on to talk to me pretty much whenever.
While I kept in contact with SOLDIER for some years after I no longer posted here, we eventually lost contact around 2005 or so, when I had a falling out with my real life friends, who were also on AIM, and so I stopped logging on as much. I was also entering adulthood, beginning to work full time. We all know how this goes I think.
I learned so much from SOLDIER over these years. How to debate. How an intelligent conservative will craft an argument. I can't begin to calculate how much influence it's had on my life as a whole. I'm certainly less radical and more libertarian now than I was in those days. Did SOLDIER have something to do with that?
Since losing contact with him (over 10 years ago!), I've often thought about SOLDIER, especially as political and current events unfold. Bush was in office when we last debated. I wonder what he thinks about this candidate or another. If he'd be voting libertarian or republican. What views of his may have changed. Miss him a lot.
Mercury is another friend who I continued to talk to off the board for years after my time as a regular, who I similarly lost contact with. He was in the military when I last talked to him, I believe in Spain.
His influence on me is largely musical. He sent me all sorts of different songs from different genres. Mostly indie stuff. And almost everything he got me into was a big part of my life (and subsequently my friends' lives as I got them into the same) for years to come.
The sad thing is, a lot of the stuff he sent me, I didn't begin to appreciate in full for a while later. I was really bad about giving music other people suggested to me a proper chance. But he got me into so much! Modest Mouse (before Float On was a mainstream hit). Blood Brothers. Aesop rock and I think quite possibly some underground hip hop too. I can't even determine exactly how many different artists he got me into, since in so many cases I wouldn't stumble across them in my collection until later. My high school friends and I were obsessed with some of these.
So, I never got to express to him fully how influential he was on me. I remember him being a super cool dude too.
Reeve, Ambigore, Everyone else
I wanted to mention Ambigore, who I owe all these experiences to. He was a great friend to me as well.
Reeve, who has kept this place alive for all these years. It couldn't have been in better hands. I remember when we all thought you were a dude. Let's keep this place going forever!
And many many other people who I was friends with both here and off the board. You all influenced me as well, but I'm too long-winded and verbose to mention everyone. I also owe some apologies to some people. There were some pretty cool friendships I threw away for jealousy and other petty reasons. Namely Squall Leonheart and Cyrus Dogstar, but they weren't the only members of the community affected by my teenage stupidity. I'm sorry dudes.
So there we have it. My own memory lane. I miss my childhood a terrible amount, and the Citadel was a big part of it. I fully plan to come back here on a semi-regular to regular basis, but if anyone wants to contact me directly, my email is in my profile and we can figure something out.