It's late at night on a holiday weekend, and that means reflection. Take a look at the ages and join dates of people around the forums. Chances are the person you just happened to click on has been here since they were a teenager. It's a bit surreal to think about, but in spite of all of the doomsaying, the game has lasted long enough to see even the players that joined around the halfway mark make it through college, even if there's only a small, dedicated number left now. And of those, it's safe to assume that the majority have found their way into some community or another.
The interesting thing is that it does away with the typical anonymity of the internet - since you can't really spend a fair portion of your life around a group of people and not call them friends. The community essentially transcends the game, as evidenced by the number of ex-scapers hanging around on this very forum, and should the game finally die the way its fanbase has been planning for a decade, it will probably outlive it. It's not surprising, considering the way the game is built. The game is slow and, outside of certain metagame circles, reasonably relaxed. A lot of the time, there's not much else to do but talk. If you're working toward a long goal, you may as well get comfortable.
Perhaps part of the reason for that is that it was the 'gateway' MMO of its generation: I obviously can't speak for everyone, but nowadays I'd require a lot of pushing to sign up for a similar game and I'd mostly stick with friends, but the lack of options back then made the game a sort of melting pot. United by a common interest and most likely a common generation, but otherwise with wildly different backgrounds and ideals. Essentially, life experience masquerading as a silly game, which almost (accidentally) justifies the time sink aspect.
So if you have nothing better to do over this holiday weekend, think back at how that melting pot has changed the way you look at the world. If it hasn't, thank the people you've stuck with anyway; it hardly matters if you've never seen them before, after several years of misspent youth, they're still friends. They've left a mark on you just as much as you have on them; whether you regret the time you've spent on this game or not. And if you do, then hopefully the people you've met along the way have made it worthwhile. Think back to what you've learned from it, rather than wonder about whether you could have been better off if you spent that time on your grades instead: I for one learned more about both the world and myself from here than I would have if I had buried myself in a textbook.
On the other hand, these same connections are currently showing me that at least one former Runescaper on the east coast is playing Bloodborne while I'm falling asleep at my keyboard. The real lesson, then, is that insomniacs and nocturnal gamers exist, and I'm not one of them. With that, good night (morning), and enjoy the holiday weekend. Whether you celebrate anything or not, it's as good a day as any to acknowledge the people that helped you get this far. You're going to grow whether you like it or not, why regret it?