A short creative reflection on forums in the first person.
11pm, 12am, 1am…
“Rocks fall, everyone dies.”
“Close but no cigar. I’m going to bed now night!”
“Good night my dear, sleep well.”
“You too miss ^^”
And he’s gone. It was a good long talk. One of a few, but the last to end. We seemed to talk about everything; university, travel, anime, TV shows, music, our likes and dislikes; I suppose it’s the stuff you usually start off with. I liked talking to him. We had shared interests, he was nice to talk to, and he replied. I wonder if we’ll speak again. That’s the idea, right?
It’s my first forum; I’m so not good at this. What’s the etiquette? What are these people expecting? They add me, and I accept. Why not? We’re all strangers, right? If no one added and no one accepted it would be a poor foundation for a social network. What am I expecting from them? I have no idea. Some company? Someone I can connect with and relate to? Maybe it’s as simple as just breaking the monotony of everyday life. Who knows? Not me.
My parents would probably say it’s strange to share so much with a person you’ve never met, and I have to agree; it is strange, but not bad. It’s strange how comfortable you can be talking to an enigma. All you have to go by is a country, name, and age. The name is fake from the start, and usually the pictures are too. People can build whole personas around a picture, create a whole identity, never showing their true face. That goes both ways, but I guess I don’t feel the need for it. Even if you talk as yourself, how do they know? And even if the personas are fake, does it really do any harm? The majority are overseas, so it’s unlikely we’ll ever meet.
Maybe the risk of a lack of honesty would make some people feel more uncomfortable. You could be sharing your deepest thoughts and secrets with anyone. Is that a problem? Not really. They only know what you choose to share, so if you’re worried then don’t share so much; it’s simple enough. It does no harm really; after all the picture and name are fake, so how will they ever know? They’re as in the dark about you as you are about them. I guess that’s the comfort. Anonymity for the win.
I guess being yourself carries its own weight though. What if these people don’t like me? Well, not everyone can like you; it’s the same IRL in that regard. Theoretically it should matter less about being liked on a forum; at least you don’t have to work with these people or see them on a daily basis; that lessens the awkwardness. But what if they only talk to be polite? How do you know when someone actually likes you, and when they just think it would be rude to let the conversation die? It’s a tough call without body language and physical interaction to go by. If that’s the case then every conversation you have going could just be a string of people too polite to stop talking. How can you tell? I guess you can’t.
Maybe if I don’t start the conversation up again the next day then I’ll know if they like me. Maybe, but maybe they’ll think you were the one just talking to be polite; then they’ll be in the same boat as you. They might not talk simply because you haven’t spoken to them. Two people who enjoy each other’s company could easily never communicate again over a misunderstanding like that. Best keep the conversation going then.
Keep it going until there’s nothing left to talk about? Theoretically there should always be something to talk about, right? Well, there’s only so many times you can say ‘What are you up to?’ and ‘How are you?’ before it becomes routine. Talking due to habit rather than genuine curiosity. What do you do when there’s no curiosity left? Lapse into silence? What if they lapse into silence because they don’t like me? A vicious circle indeed.