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by Aleka
  I'm staring at my computer screen wondering what I'm doing. I'm looking at the logon screen of Outpost10F and debating entering or not. It's designed smartly, black background, a lot of websites go white background with black text because it's more like actual paper, but the black background is actually easier to read, easier for your brain to process. Ten Forward is today's poison of choice in seems, six people logged in, two seniors, two clearance level fours, a three and a CL2. I don't have to log in to know what's going on in there, they'll be locked in conversations in pairs, the newest two will pick each other and latch on for dear life. That's what you have to do if you want to stick around. Guinan's staring at me from the login header, talking about Prime Directives that are broken everyday, respect, responsibility, the same things I heard back in High School.
OTF's a lot like high school, only it's got 8 accessible grades instead of just four, heck, after you hit clearance level five they even call you a senior. Everybody wants to be a cheerleader or a jock, everyone wants to be popular, to be liked to be well known. Isn't that why we come here in the first place, to feel as though we're a part of something bigger. We call it a community, a place of friendship and love, but sometimes it's hard not to feel like the red shirt Ensign on the away mission. OTF is an escapists' heaven, you log in and you want to forget everything, you can stay logged on for hours and not even realize it.
They call it "Patron of the Month" you get an award for it and everything, people spend more time logged inside OTF then they do with their families, at work, at school, when they do talk to people in real life, they mention people they know from OTF. Sometimes they make up little extra details, like that they've used to live nearby and they've moved away, sometimes, they're honest, and say they know them from online. What difference does it make, when your logged in, staring at the login page, you feel like you belong. Even if the only people who will talk to you are in your department, or under a certain clearance level, you tell yourself that OTF accepts you.
You feel confused when your online relationships fall apart, you use your boyfriend in Portland, Manchester, Holland, Victoria, thousands of miles away as the reason you can't go out with the guy that goes into the McDonalds you do, the one that smiles at you. Wondering all the while why you can't have a tangible relationship, and checking your e-mail once more. Once, twice, five times in an hour, ten years ago you never would have believed this was you.
And yet, your fingers freeze on the keyboard for a few seconds, realizing that it is you now though. You look through peoples dossiers searching for possible friends, you want to plan a union so when your family confronts you, you have proof. 'These people care about me, these people are my friends,' and they are. For now, but isn't that they way the world works. Everything is only for now, life is quick and time is passing, love it hard and live it fast. You hit the 'load' button and it brings up all of your login information, because here, even though sometimes you hate it more than real life, it's how you keep going.
You can say your Norman Mailer reincarnated or Cindy Crawford and though people will doubt it, they could never fully disprove you. No one knows if you're overweight, underweight, depressed, suicidal, happy, sad or anything else. It may make you scream, it may make you cry, but Outpost10F is here, sometimes you wonder why . . . But Outpost10F is here to stay.
You hit the enter button and you sign on, you're greeted by a barrage of hello, hey you, smiley faces, hugs, huggles and pounce huggles. You smile to yourself, remember why you started to log on in the first place, and wonder why you even hesitated.