As a person of a painfully shy nature, I find social interactions kinda challenging. Perhaps for this reason I have been drawn to writing and performing – it’s become my platform for expression which didn’t involve having to figure out the norms of social conduct. Whether on page or on stage – it was always in the process of creation that I have found a safe-house for my true nature, but building meaningful connections through social interactions, has remained a struggle.
I used to use alcohol to cure my awkward relationship to socializing which made interacting with people way easier, but eventually alcohol has become too much of a necessity at which stage I decided to stop drinking. Which is not to say that I’m against alcohol consumption as such – it’s just that, possibly due to my highly addictive personality, it didn’t quite work for me. As it stands, I will soon celebrate two years of an alcohol-free journey and, though it has been a bit of a bumpy ride, I would not like to go back to my old substance-abusive ways of connecting to people. So, along with eliminating alcohol from my life, I embarked on a search for alternative ways to interact with poeple that would not necessarily involve having a drink. And there it was…
No Trolls Allowed (NTA) hacker camp has appeared in my life as a mind-blowing explosion of meaningful interactions which brightened up my existence. And though in my professional life I am miles away from technology, programming or anything science related, I was glad I came accross this event. It has really struck me as a festival that celebrates passion, innovation, creativity, wonder and the most beautiful qualities that we all carry within. And no, don’t get me wrong, it’s not an alcohol-free camp or anything, it’s just a place where I didn’t feel I had to be drinking to enjoy it.
The concept of the gathering is pretty straightforward – in order to participate you have to contribute: either by making a presentation on a subject you’re interested in, running a workshop or an activity, or volunteering in order to make sure the event runs smoothly. In this way, every participant gets actively involved rather than taking the back seat of a passive observer. But the core idea of the camp is expressed in its title – No Trolls Allowed is the tagline that runs through the heart of the camp: there is no place for trolls. Every idea and skill is greeted with a genuine welcome.
In year 2014, I have “paid the entrance fee” by making a presentation titled “The Limits of My Language are the Limits of My World” which wasn’t a raving success, but the opportunity to express my ideas and the encouragement received, has guided me through to further explore my passion for words and language. This year, I decided to be a bit more adventurous and run a Creative Writing and Spoken Word workshop.
You cannot imagine the terror with which I stood there waiting for the participants to turn up fearing that no one will join. I mean, there was a myriad of other exciting things happening all over the place and in the end – it was a hacker camp!
“Why did I think anyone should care about creative writing here?” this was the only thought running through my mind for those long-lasting minutes of waiting. And though I was prepared for the worst case scenario of nobody being interested, it was a massive relief when people did turn up. Writing can be a very lonesome activity and it takes courage to share the private thoughts that can be exposed through it, so I am grateful to the participants for taking time to stop by to write and share. It was a great joy to hear their short yet very memorable pieces of writing.
Aside from my own contribution, I have stuffed my brain with massive amounts of information on the subjects ranging from mental health to black holes and quantum computers, and I have been thrilled to witness the wake-boarding lessons which appeared to be one of the high-lights of the camp this year. Makers’ corner, under the name of Technariumas, has been spreading the wonders of innovation featuring some real explosions; meanwhile the music band has been spreading good vibes through some irresistable tunes that (both literally and metaphorically) moved the crowd. There were places that I did not dare enter – such as the Digital stage where at times I could not even understand the titles of the presentations. Regardless – it did not make me feel left out – there was always something else going on which, in this beautiful haven of nature, barely left the time to dip my feet into the lake.
Social interactions, then – throughout my two years of sobriety, I have come to terms with the fact that they will always remain challenging. But having events such as No Trolls Allowed makes me feel positive that impossible is nothing. By creating a warm and welcoming environment for people to be together and form meaningful connections, this camp has filled my heart with joy. I was hesitant to speak about it for the selfish reasons of not wanting the camp to become over-crowded and, possibly, commercial, but it’s only for so long that you can keep something so great a secret. And in the end – the concept of the NTA camp is rooted in sharing, so why not share, I guess.
Thank you, guys – to those who initiated this and to those who have simply just been there on a somewhat cloudy, yet a very bright and uplifting weekend – you’re a wonder!
For more information on the event, feel free to check out the following page: http://www.notrollsallowed.com/en/
For a different, a bit more detailed review, you can also check: http://damirlumis.com/no-trolls-allowed-hacker-camp/