by Madeline Laughs
The Internet is still a new frontier, however I remember when it didn’t exist. At least, not the way we know it today. Chatting was the rage when I finally got my first laptop. Before that I played on a web that only connected universities and government offices. Even then, I mostly played Yahtzee and sent a few emails.
I have been online for a very long time. My typing style is very fast and it was perfected and butchered learning to chat. The first connection I was ever a part of was a BBS, Bulletin Board Service. It was dial-up and had only ten phone lines, but it was cutting edge for it’s time. We all knew each other and we got together at least once a month to chat in person.That was definitely one of my fondest memories of being online.
When they launched Prodigy for the first time, I was online when it happened. Suddenly I could chat with people all over the USA. Later I could chat with people all over the world.
During my tenure out here in cyberspace I believe I have seen it all. The good, the bad and the delete-worthy. I have no tolerance for bad behavior. I am a quick draw on the delete, escape and leave keys and discard whatever displeases me without a second thought. That’s one of the traits of a push button society. Everything becomes expendable and forgotten.
Recently I rediscovered the Internet that I once knew and I was stopped in mid-motion as I poked at the delete key.
Finding your voice in a place where there are no voices heard can be difficult. Some folks pick it right up and you can almost hear them speaking when they post. Others tend to struggle with finding the best way to express themselves in the written word. Once you become accustomed to watching how people post in a chat, you can sometimes tell what they’ll be like in person, though not always.
One of my first experiences in chat was a guy who claimed to be from Germany. We would chat until the wee hours of the morning about everything. I found out he didn’t have a library card and had no idea how to get one, so I offered to assist him. The next afternoon he showed up at my door sporting a very American accent, couldn’t speak a word of German and really wasn’t interested in getting a library card…if you know what I mean. Lesson one of my online experience had sunk in. Never believe what people put out there as fact until you can see it for yourself.
There are so many communities that you can be a member of online. If I had to remember every single one I had ever been a member of, I’d be making that list for days. I tend to be independent on the web. I’ve never gone looking for online communities to join. They seem to find me. I am big on participation and usually I will contribute and be a part of what’s happening. Then for whatever reasons I would get bored, or mad, or I’d see conflict on the horizon that I didn’t want to be a part of, or the group becomes stagnant and I would rabbit. That’s standard operating procedure for me. I’ve never viewed these communities as anything permanent, or as a fixture in my life. For me, they were temporary landing pads. I’m sure it’s this way for a lot of online personalities. Since there is nothing concrete holding me there, I feel free to weave in and out and eventually leave, as I see fit.
From experience I can tell you that once you leave an online community, you are rarely missed for long. In fact, if anyone acknowledges missing you it’s uncommon. The general feeling is “Oh, did she leave? I thought I hadn’t seen her post in a while!” Even if you make a grand exit with an announcement you will be hard pressed to find anyone that really cares you’re gone. A friend in the group might send you an email, but that’s about it. This isn’t just my experience, this is how it is out there.
That’s the Internet.
The spectrum of online personae runs the gamut. It can be an interesting study in human behavior if you sit back and observe a while to learn the many different bones that make up a successfully managed group of online people.
There is always a leader and in some instances I’ve thought of this person as The Dictator because they ruled the group with an iron fist and threats of ousting members that didn’t comply. I have been in groups where the leader was very fair, though not often.
There’s a Smart Ass in every community. I’ve been in groups where I thought everyone was a smart ass.This person will have a snarky, mean comment they introduce into any thread where they think they can get away with it. These folks aren’t usually mean people and they’re operating under the assumption that they are adding humor, irony or a superior intellect to the conversation. Ha!
The group would not be complete without the Oversexed Flirt who has the uncanny ability to turn any serious thread into an all-out, cyber-fueled naughtyfest. Every comment they make can sound suggestive. This can be particularly funny when others chime in that aren’t as deft at being sensual online. Alluding to masturbation and coming right out and telling the group you’re in the process of the deed are two very different things.
The Tortured Intellectual will spout their scholastic achievements, obscure books they’ve read and make long, verbose comments to get their point across. Once they feel they’ve made their point they wax and wane about how frustrating it is to be so smart and usually back off with a bit of humble humor, or continue to appear arrogant.
Every group will also have a Bully, but not for very long. Bullies tend to come and go. They leave on their own, get run off by the group or the leader deletes their account.
The Hit and Run Poster will make the rarefied comment once in a while, but you are left with the impression that they have been lurking in the background, paying attention the whole time. Hit and runs almost never stick around for an entire thread, but like to pop in and then back out again.
An online community can have one of each, or several of each of these most common personality types. Who am I? Well, I fit into two of these categories; Oversexed Flirt and Hit and Run Poster.
It is unique for anyone in the group to make comments that will continue to pull me back into a thread. To be transparent, it is rare that anyone even has the inclination to bother with the engagement. Most people are more concerned with their turn at the podium than they are in pushing you center stage to steal the limelight. I am a tentative, thoughtful poster and I am always aware that what I take the time to type up will most likely go unnoticed anyway.
Flirting online is an art. You might think you’re good at it, but chances are you’re not. Being overt in your intentions is the fastest way to turn a fun, feisty thread into Hustler magazine. When the curve into “adults only” conversation happens, comments like “Whoppeee! Weee! I’m super horny and touching myself right now!” always make me grit my teeth in embarrassment for the poster.
(I’m not going to give you any instructions on how to hot chat, so move along.)
Yes, I was under the impression that I had everything figured out. No one could surprise me out here in cyberland anymore. Then I was pulled kicking and screaming into an online community that turned the Internet, as I know it, on it’s head.
Stay tuned…this is going to be a great ride as I take you on my journey of rediscovering the human side of the Internet.
- Use Cog’s Ladder to build powerful Online Communities (customerthink.com)
- The Nature of Online Communities (seomoz.org)
- Why Online Communities and Vegas Have Nothing In Common (customerthink.com)
- 4 Online Chat Strategies to Protect Your Brand (customerthink.com)
- An Online Community for “Geographically Challenged” Families Launches – Happyhomefront.net (prweb.com)
- Life In The Tech Lane With A Moving Disruption (businessinsider.com)
- Trolls (waveboy2u.wordpress.com)
- & we all bounce & follow from one to another. (misskryzz.wordpress.com)