Tag Archives: chat rooms

About Discussion Boards and Chat Rooms

From a previous post April 3, 2005

Okay.  What’s been on your mind this morning, the readership asks, me adroitly putting the words into the communal mouth.

In between working on other internet projects, I’ve been thinking about Discussion Boards and Chat Rooms.  What is it about those things?  What’s the appeal to us?  Why do they so frequently erode into acid exchanges between the users?  How do complete strangers come to have such a rancor for one another?  And how to otherwise, probably nice enough people (they have to be… someone would have taught them manners if they behaved that way offline) come to have such nasty streaks when they wear a mask of anonymity?

I’ve seen discussion boards and participated in a few previously.  In those days, a few people were still doing non-spectator things outdoors.  Enough were, at least, to keep sites of that sort in business selling metal detectors, gold pans, books, sluiceboxes, dry-washers and whatnot.  That’s when I first noticed this discussion board spinoff phenomenon I eventually came to think of as the snake pit.

People would come to the boards to learn about prospecting, about a particular lost mine, about some piece of equipment or other. But on any site there’d come a time when a specific group of individuals would just sort of hang out there.  They weren’t there to learn, and they obviously weren’t there to share information.  Mostly, they were just wasting time, disparaging people who asked questions, disparaging the attempts others made to answer.  The snake pit.

These weren’t just trolls.  They were men who knew the subjects the board was created to discuss.  But treasure hunters and prospectors have never been long on the information-sharing business.  So instead, these guys hung around blustering at one another, arguing which had the most skill with a metal detector, which detector brand was best.  Online acquaintances who frequently hated one another and everyone else, but still hung around.

Mid-1998, I became convinced Y2K was an actual threat.  That belief led me to another type of chat room.  A place where people who believed similarly hung around to talk about  TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) and exchange information about Y2K preparedness.  At least, that’s how it began.

Before too long we all discovered that, while we each believed Y2K was going to happen, to one degree or another, we had some serious rifts in the other aspects of our lives.  Some were born again Christians who wanted to ask one another and answer one another whether this was going to be the Rapture, and if so, when it would begin, and what it would be like, both for themselves, and for the non-believers who’d be left behind to suffer it out on the ground.

That sort of thing.  That, and just how bad would things get, post-Y2K.  And how much a person should bet that it would happen at all. Attempts at risk analysis, though most of us didn’t know a lot about computers.

From mid-’98 until I departed for my woods-retreat mid-’99, I watched the Y2K chat room with a measure of awe, disgust, concern and wonderment.  I watched those people who came to the chat room to learn become experts after a few visits (the fundamentals of preparedness were, after all, relatively simple).  I watched the competition among the new survival experts when `newbies’ came to the chat room. People who’d just heard about Y2K and wanted to know more.  The poor old newbies found themselves swarmed by all the old-timers who were, themselves, newbies a couple of weeks earlier.  Everyone wanted to demonstrate his knowledge by telling some newbie about it all.

Meanwhile, the rancor, the snapping and snarling, the pro-gun/anti-gun, born-again/non-religious wars raged among those folks who came there first to just learn, who all had the same reason for their original visits.  And, of course, the romances.

The snake pit.

So.  How do strangers who have no reason to give a hoot in hell what one another think come to such a pass?  What is it about discussion boards and chat rooms that draws people so closely into one another that they wish to apply pain, sarcasm, poison?  That they actually allow the poison being spewed by the malignant random stranger to pierce their feelings?

It’s a study.  I’ll swear it is.

Old Jules

To Live is to Fly


Good morning everyone, Admin. (Jeanne) here.

Old Jules told me that some folks have been asking about who I am and wonder how I came to be “behind the scenes” on this blog. He asked  me  to explain a bit about how we met and got to this point.

We actually met in a y2k chat room. When my ex and  I were researching y2k in ’98, I  was new to the internet and immediately became addicted to chat, where this guy who could really turn a phrase caught my attention with his sharp, although often warped, sense of humor. He obviously was an expert about  emergency preparedness and soon he and his y2k website became my number one resource.

When he got his property at a land auction in the summer of ’99, we also bought a piece of land and I went from Kansas to  New Mexico for the first time to sign the closing papers. My family put up our own getaway cabin about a mile and a half down the road from his place.  After three more trips to put supplies in place, I had a suspicion that y2k was going to be less of an event than had been predicted. I  decided to take advantage of the chance to give my kids a taste of a life not only in a different culture, but without telephone, electricity, or indoor plumbing. By New Year’s I was there with all five of my kids, and I  lived there for 4 more months with the three of them that were homeschooling.  Jules and my family became good neighbors. He again became a valuable resource for us when we were studying New Mexico culture, history, and geography.

After my family reunited back in Kansas, we stayed in close contact. When I quit homeschooling and began working outside the home, he again became a mentor for me, since his career  in management positions gave him perspectives that would have taken me years to learn.  After my divorce a few years later we shared a house in Placitas, N.M. for a couple of years before I again moved back to Kansas. I’ve visited Old Jules in New Mexico many times, and in Texas a few times.  We’ve taken a lot of day trips, hit the thrift stores, and shared our cats, music, and books.  We’ve also collaborated on various  projects.  He’s been great about encouraging me in my art work, too.

I work two library jobs, and I’ve always had a passion for reading and writing.  I’ve had blogs myself, but I decided a while ago that my own expression should focus more on my art  than writing. I have other friends who are writers and I enjoy following their progress. Living on the edge as Old Jules does, with a slow dial-up connection on a phone line that I happen to know has a tree branch lying across it right now, makes it difficult for him to maintain a blog site. Since I’ve always enjoyed reading what Old Jules writes, I’m happy to help by using my fast internet connection to set up and maintain the blog.  So this blog is truly a joint project.  When we can, we use photos that we’ve taken ourselves, and discussing which music  fits each post is one of the parts about it that I enjoy most.

Because we live 800 miles apart, we don’t actually see each other very often,  so we’re grateful to live in a time when y2k didn’t bring down the grid,  destroying communications and becoming the end of the world as we know it.
We hope you’re grateful, too.

Mandala 56
Addendum: Here’s a link to my Deviant Art page for those who’d like to see more of my drawings. I don’t update the page very often, but it’s a handy place to have a gallery!
http://mandalagal.deviantart.com/gallery/

Townes Van Zandt– To Live is to Fly