Oh, Internets

Or How to Act in Public Without Too Much Bloodletting.

Grab a glass of whisky and a chair, kids. Grandma’s gonna tell you a story about the Beginnings of Time on the Internets.

The first time DadGoth and I had a computer was in 1989, after he began working for Big Hippie Behemoth Computers. One of the perks was a new computer every year or two. In 1992, we also got a modem and splurged on an ISP – I think it was Compuserve back then, but I’m not positive. This was back in the days of BBSes and message boards aplenty, and the beginnings of Usenet. Ah, Usenet…home of trolls and crazy. Tons and tons of crazy, even today. Don’t believe me? Head on out to your favorite newsreader and search the alt. boards. I’ll wait.

Back? You see? This was when lots of rules of the road were established that many people take for granted (and far too few actually bother to use) today. Basic netiquette, if you will. One of the biggies, aside from remembering that there are actual people with actual feelings on the other side of that computer keyboard, is lurking for a while before making that initial post. Just to get the feel of the room, if you will. Sometimes lurking for a while can mean 24 hours or so, sometimes it can mean months (why hello there, alt.gothic! How I’ve missed you). But lurking – always a good idea. Sometimes vital to one’s physical and emotional health.

Which brings me to the subject of my rant.

There is an online service, the name of which escapes me at the moment – and you wouldn’t hear me say it here if it didn’t either. It used to be a nice, quiet place where everybody had a corner. Whether that corner was a half-dozen or several thousand, it was the place for you to hang, and people to hang with. Not everywhere was meant for everybody, just like in real life. And that’s okay. Or at least it used to be.

I’ve been a member of this particular community for close to 4 years. In that time, there have been a few places where I’ve felt comfortable posting. I don’t post often, but I’ve felt like it was okay. There were nonjudgemental ears around. Some have even become friends.

As of today, I don’t feel that way anymore. Something has happened. Lots of people are failing to remember the basic netiquette rule: There are real live people, with real live feelings, on the other side of that computer screen. So before you post something, lurk for a while first. Maybe for a day, maybe for a year. This past week I’ve seen examples of people who should be lurking right now who aren’t.

I’m sad to say it, but I think I’m just about finished with that particular community. I need to be where there are sunny rainbows and unicorn races. Perhaps I should return to alt.gothic. Yeahhhhh…..