For the first two days I started writing this (I have been working on this since I created the blog), I was wracking my brain trying to figure out how to so, because it was originally posed to me as a positives vs negatives type of post, but that just was not working…the positives and negatives are out of balance. So instead, I am writing this as a what has changed and what has not changed. This is for the community as a whole, so there might be a site or two that are exempt from certain things, but these are my observations as a whole. I have a feeling these will still lean one way in the positive negative scale, but it is what it is.
WHAT HAS CHANGED
This is not something that the community is really responsible for, but a change in technology. Whereas before we were limited to forums, occasional chats, and instant messaging; now I see video chats, youtube channels, and more Jedi exchanging phone numbers. It is easier to know who is on the other side of the keyboard now.
This has not so much changed as it has continued and gained momentum. The offline gathering was new in 2002, but it has continued annually since and many more smaller gatherings are done regionally now.
Again, this is something that was already beginning when I initially left the community, but they have definitely grown since.
I have been a Jedi for seventeen years now…there is only one person still around who has been there longer than I have. Everyone else is new. At the recent Gathering, we split into two groups at one point: those who were “new” and “vets.” Of course I stayed in the vet group, but aside from two other people, I do not recall a single one of the people who stayed in the room from before. The funny thing is, most of them probably all just assumed I am new, or that I was just “the girlfriend,” not a Jedi, but just attending with my boyfriend who is well known throughout the community.
Less Sites, More Facebook
Like much of the online world, the Jedi community is largely on Facebook now. It has sort of become the new ezboard. Whereas back in the early aughts there were dozens, if not hundreds of different boards and websites, now there are only a few websites, but dozens of Facebook groups.
With the shift to offline meetings, now knightings are done in person rather than online, which brings a whole three ring circus of a show into play. Empty speeches are read (not memorized….read from a page) by the person presiding, by those being knighted, and even by those observing, effectively forcing people into saying they agree with a decision, even if they do not. It is a grand public display rather than the private and meaningful occurrence depicted in the fiction.
While the world seems to be getting smaller everywhere else due to the ease of communication, the opposite seems to be true within the Jedi community. Not only does there seem to be a focus on the US groups while Jedi from abroad are almost completely forgotten, but the Gatherings have become Midwest-centric rather than trying to move around. True, the Midwest is central for most, but some people cannot travel regardless. Better to jump from location to location each year. Those that can travel will likely still make the trip, those who cannot will eventually be able to attend because it is close enough to do so. Better to give everyone a chance to attend at least once than give a handful of people the opportunity to go every year. Now, evidently there is SOME effort to switch up the Gatherings, but there is also the issue of who runs them that causes resistance, and is currently causing a split between next years Gathering going East next year, or staying in the Midwest once again. This is primarily an issue of who has control of the Gatherings…does one organization control them or are they free for anyone to plan. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
WHAT HAS STAYED THE SAME
A Lack of Standards
This is probably the most troubling one for me. Many more individuals are being Knighted now, but I see absolutely no set standard to become a knight, just that people have to like you and feel you have something to offer to the community. Do you have to show diplomacy? No. Do you have to show physical wellness? No. Do you have to show knowledge of Jedi history and texts? No (and sadly, this includes the Code…which in the fiction was required knowledge to move from Initiate to Padawan, but in real life not even required of Knights?!).
And to connect this with the previous point, often FROM those who are called knights. Gossip, politics, nepotism, sexism….all the things you would think you would be required to quell to become a Jedi Knight.
A Rush to Knighthood
What is the rush? What does the title “Knight” ACTUALLY gain you? There is so much focus on becoming a knight, rather than focus on BEING a Jedi.