I admit it. I have been guilty of this activity. I am human just like the rest of us, and frankly, the internet is addictive.
Off and on I have frequented a certain photography forum. Each an every time it has been for the same reasons; I have been bored, and I like photography. Each and every time I have wasted countless hours of my life and eventually been left with a sour taste in my mouth.
In theory, an online forum is about creating a community. The problem is that in almost every case that online community resembles your average high-school in that it is dominated by a small group of regulars who are busy patting each other on the back while doing whatever is possible to make newcomers feel unwelcome. It is a massive popularity contest where only the strong survive. It’s a game, everyone is there to argue and win. Basically it is a toxic atmosphere.
Everyone is a zealot, and anyone level-headed and balanced is quickly run out-of-town, or *gasp*, banned.
Years ago I came across a website that listed the various forum archetypes. It’s hilarious reading, and particularly relevant to anyone who has actually attempted to participate on any sort of discussion on the internet. If read it you will quickly discover two things:
- You have encountered some or all of these personalities at some point on the internet.
- You are probably becoming one of them.
The second one is a bit disturbing to those of us who pride ourselves in being sane and down to earth. But like it or not, the environment of a web forum tends to have this effect on the best of us.