Make it Public

Announcement of quitting a forum really drew my interest, posted by Theophilus. I spent much time in that venue and came away with a few opinions and some lessons from those experiences. I recommend reading all through the comments following Theo.’s post … many worthwhile observations. After all, we are observers of our culture on these blogs, right? That is part of the draw.

In my own experience…..
Let’s see…how much do I want to tell? Where’s Vash? I trust she won’t mind if I share some things that include her.

Background history, first:
As with many things I stumbled into the world of lists and forums. I had read
somewhere that it was a good way to advertise your website, and since I had started one and was excited about the www, I thought I would try out that direction. With a slow start I ended up joining one that was called…. engagingly enough “Intelligent Women”. Doesn’t that sound intriguing? You want to know if they truly are, with all the intellectual stimulation that would promise or if they were pretentious fakes, which would have its own lessons.

Wait. I joined the intp list first, I think. That was due to my interest in the
Keirsey test. It was a huge, very active list, with a predilection for religious debate. Peopled with aggressive atheists, inventive thinkers, and a few Christians who were very reasonable and one who was veritably genius in utilizing humor, insight, and high level intelligence. Henry Chang. Henry Chang -where are you? I suppose there were some pompous idiots as well. Yes, definitely.

Those were rough and tumble arguments, but civil.

But I really stepped into what forums are about in the IW list. And from that I would say that they are about a specific type of human dynamics. There are herds, there are packs, there are predator trolls and there are games people play. There is also sincere effort at communicating, and some very excellent lessons to be learned in human interactions with people very different from oneself, along with all the other.

But I had noticed a degradation over time in the quality of the interaction, mostly after joining in the larger scope of Delphi forums. I guess that is to be expected as something becomes popular. Many of the most intelligent tend to flee at that point, or get bored and drop out. Pity in some ways, but highly understandable.

Maybe it gets to where too many fools take over the playground. I say that because Proverbs has a couple sayings about dealing with fools that end up with the summary that there is no good way to deal with one: you can’t answer him and you can’t ignore him. You just need to distance…..

There are lots of other factors, too, such as all those intensive posted debates that get lost when the forum closes, or the repetition in topics as people move in and out of the group. A loss of focus or a change in the primary personality/ies who have pioneered the group are also influential. And maybe the dynamics of fads… lots of things I am sure.

But you will learn lots about types of communicating. I find most sensitive thinking individuals don’t have much stomach for the hardball debate on forums. It’s politics, really, and not everyone enjoys politics. It is also a weird type of public.

I say weird because in such arenas you don’t have the normal ladder climbing of real life accomplishment and prestige that normally give one a platform. You win it by your wits and your endurance. Or your ability to politick. Some of that is a good thing. It evens out the course, so that people aren’t bullied into silence as they are in real life, by those who are wealthier, better placed socially, or given to ethics-grinding public life. But we all know the internet lets out other things as well…for good or for bad.

What I most liked about forums and lists was the chance to really talk with people of different extremes.

Christians just don’t normally talk religion with pagans. They don’t usually have the opportunity to see what makes them tick as individuals and in group interaction. Some of us are used to atheists and some are not, and it can be saddening to also get exposed to what some of ones fellow Christians are like, as well. Real eye opening… but some of us sort of suspicioned.

I am not of the opinion that Christians have to taste what the dark side is about, not at all; but I do feel we have to look at those on the dark side as people. I don’t know why, but Jesus didn’t have trouble with that, while many Christians do.

They are people. With thoughts, problems, sorrows and joys like the rest of humanity. They just come with off-putting labels like “Satanist”, etc.

But we have our off-putting labels too. One of my personal favorite entrances into a new forum was” Hi, I’m Ilona, and I am a Fundamentalist”. Because it totally explodes the scene with all sorts of preconceptions. Makes them rise to the top, as it were. Then once you get those out the way, you can begin to talk.

But the tendency of forums is to run in a pack and for people to get all invested emotionally and fear losing their “place”. Which just shuts down real understanding and forward movement in respect of humanness.

…maybe I’ll come back on this one and finish the topic. If Vash agrees I’ll share some things that might name her…. Or maybe she would feel like sharing from her viewpoint.

2 thoughts on “Make it Public”

  1. Hi, I’m Vash and I’m an atheist. (Just following your example there, Ilona. ) Nice to meet you, Theophilus.

    Share away. If you don’t mention the epic fight we had over S&M, I may have to. 😉

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