Thursday, March 12, 2009

JMO - Internet Forums

I don't think anyone can disagree with the idea that Internet forums and all the associated features and tools are a bad thing. They've managed to bring together many people in the world with similar interest, or living with similar circumstances or in similar situationis. That's the beauty of them, but it's also the potential problem with them when they become political and shut out the voices who question and voice dissent.

You see the advantage of establishing your own forum is that you are king and dictator. It's yours to think, decide and act as you want without being held accountable. You can praise those you like and you can punish or abolish those you don't like. You can control what you want to hear or not hear. And that's what's lost on many, honesty and openness.

You write your own Terms of Service (TOS). forum policy and user rules. You can also ignore them for individuals who do violate them but you consider them a friend. You can interpret them wrongly when you dislike some for raising questions. It's the old story if you go searching for violations and don't find any you can simply interpret those you find and act as if they're true.

It's a percieved truthfulness which is really a falsehood. You're simply lying to yourself and deceiving your own values. And it becomes obvious so people learn to be politically correct, and if they want to dissent, they just skate the margins then back off to agree it's not a good thing. In short, truth and reality get lost.

And there are many forums like this because they want to foster a "community" of like-minded people and dispeal those who disagree. It's the Internet gated community. The owner can say, "I'll let you be a member if you agree with me, don't criticize or question me, and don't argue with those I like despite what they say."

At that point I've learned this lesson recently when I did exactly that, question the application of the policy and expressed a view different than the owner. She quickly dispatched my account into the byte bucket as she did another person the day before.

I'm not sure it would fair to name this forum or the owner, because the whole greater community likes to think of themselves as a united, inclusive community, but it's not, not even close. Many people have long left for personal interests but many leave because of the attitude that to stay you have to accept their rules without question. So they walk away, never to look back.

And that's what I've done. I've worked for people like the owner of this forum. Her heart and mind may be in the right place but her vision is blind. And that's always a dangerous thing, self-delusion is handy if you want to be blind, but it's not when you apply to others.

Rather than embrace disssenter and conduct open and honest discussions, many forum owners prefer the opposite, close ranks and narrow the tone to a rhetoric, and then only alllow dissent from friends because they're part of your forum. But they don't understand it's about the old adage,"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

Dispatching your enemies from your world only creates more of them because they have voices too and they can speak out about you and your forum where you can't reach let alone touch them. And you gave them the ammuntion to argue against your oppression and hypocracy. They can shine the light to you and your forum.

Should I disclose the name of the person and her forum? Maybe some day, but for now she can sit in her small world and believe she's better than us and doing a good thing for and with the community. Except she's not. She's only fostering a closed knit, discriminating Internet community as small as the small town she lives in.

I like to wear the old fashioned button, "Question Authority." I wear it with pride, even though it's long battered and worn. And I'll keep wearing it with pride whenever and wherever I see a reason.

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