It was in August 2001 that this author, while searching for new military- and political-themed discussion boards to participant in on the Ezboard network, first came across the concept of micronationalism.
A nondescript black-and-blue coloured board for a micronation known as “Interland” grabbed my attention that day and that micronation quickly became my first “citizenship,” where I participated as Minister of Defence due to my interest in all-things military during my teenaged years. It was the start of a developmental journey that saw me serve in various functions, political and bureaucratic, from lowly civil servant to prime minister of a leading micronation, from historian to businessman, across numerous successful (and unsuccessful) Internet micronations. It was also the start of a role in micronational journalism that continues to this day, over 1,100 articles later.
Like many other micronationalists of my age, where spare time is now a luxury, I look back on my 15 years of participation in this interesting community sometimes with exasperation: how could I waste so much time in my youth on such a “silly” thing, playing with pretend countries?
When I consider the question further, however, I realize that micronationalism wasn’t all that silly. Rather, it was something that has benefited me tremendously in my personal and professional development outside of micronationalism. For I realized that micronationalism, for all the seemingly silly aspects, is primarily one big sandbox which allows its participants, especially during their formative teens and tweens, to expand their knowledge, to refine existing skills, and to develop new ones.
For me, the knowledge that I gained regarding government, law, programming, and many other fields, has been invaluable in my career development outside of micronationalism. I refined or learned many new skills during these years, from improving my critical thinking, planning and organizing, to learning how to write and interpret legislation or create things such as a comprehensive policy papers; all of which have paid dividends in my career. I have also been able to practice certain skills that I learned through my career and formal education and become that much more proficient because I had access to the sandbox of micronationalism. Most importantly, through this community, I have met and “worked” alongside skilled individuals from all over the world, the experience and benefit of which cannot be bought.
Today, my participation in micronationalism is much more limited due to the obligations of life and career; however, I do not regret the time I invested in my early years. That being said, will I ever participate actively in another micronation again? It’s unlikely. As the past couple of years has demonstrated, I may dabble here and there in micronations that I still maintain citizenship with, but not to any notable degree. Micronationalism, as a means of immersing myself in the machinations of a state or government, has passed into the history books, as my career satisfies many of my related interests.
Going forward, micronationalism will continue to be my outlet for engaging in journalism, which is a personal interest of mine that I haven’t the opportunity to practice otherwise. And there is no better place to practice it, I think. Micronationalism is a dynamic community of talented individuals that I have immensely enjoyed reporting on for a decade-and-a-half. It has been, and remains, an eye-opening experience from which I have learned much. It is a great story that we all share in, and one that I have been honoured to be able to write about. It has been a humbling experience.
No reflection on such a long span of time would be completed without some acknowledgements; however, there are too many to list in such a short space! To all of my colleagues in the community, past and present, with whom I have shared in many endeavours, capacities, and experiences, thank you for your camaraderie and counsel, it remains very much valued and appreciated.