Can we just be online friends?
I find it funny that in the 80s, people used web technology to discuss their favorite soap operas. I also am surprised that there were so many computer geeks that watched soap operas. You learn something new everyday. A lot of what Baym wrote about regarding virtual communities in the nineteen eighties sounds very familiar. It seems to back up a belief of mine that people really do not change much over the span of time. Technology surely makes changes in everyone's lives but the way they interact with one another stays the same. I sometimes think that we people in the "modern" age think that we are somehow smarter because we have more advanced technology. Current events tell me that this is not the case ha ha.
It's interesting that current day people seem to communicate in online discussions in a similar fashion that people who used the R.a.t.s discussion groups used. I sometimes visit an online discussion forum called "JeepForum.com." I usually visit the site when I have a question about my Cherokee and help others out if I know how to solve their problem. There is a discussion thread called "Open Topic." In this thread people talk about all sorts of topics. I once had a long argument about the merits of ethanol as a fuel. We got good comments from other members commending us on our debate. That was nice.
There were other times that didn't seem as enjoyable. Some of the folks in this forum are a sort of tight knit group. Some times when a hot discussion was in play, I would chime in if I felt that I had a valid opinion. I'd check back to see if anyone responded to my post, and nobody acknowledged what I had to say. This kind of bothered me. Why didn't they respond to me?
When Baym recounted the story of the poster who apparently was blown off by the "ingroups" of the forum, I instantly thought of my experiences with the Jeep Forum members (Baym 117). Basically, the poster had valid information to supply to the conversation, but the "ingroup" chose to listen to the more popular posters instead (Baym 117). This kind of reminds me of the whole high school mentality where people hang on every word of the popular person. The less popular person might be trying to warn people that the buildings is on fire, but nobody moves until the popular person decides it's important ha ha.
On the Jeep Forum, there was a guy that started posting and everybody seemed to be perplexed as to what his deal was. His user name was "Sizzlechest" and he used a picture of a strange looking person as his avatar. People who were curious about him would ask him questions and his replies were pretty interesting and eccentric. He finally showed everyone what he really looked like and people became really drawn to him.
Sizzlechest's popularity seemed to happen because he lived up to the groups "performative potential" (Baym 111). His actions and online presence met the criteria for a "skilled performance" (Baym 112). He showed "humor, insight, distinctive personality, and politeness" (Baym 112). What a character!
Online discussion forums like Jeep Forum and Photographycorner.com are my favorite type of application. I'm sort of an introvert and I hate going to new places trying to drum up conversation when no one has anything in common. These sites are nice because they were built for the purpose of discussing fairly specific topics. They are an online club of sorts. I feel at home when I am chatting with a fellow photographer.
I haven't had much of an urge to sign up on Myspace. I don't feel the need to impress anyone on there. I've looked at my brother's Myspace um....space and it seems kind of interesting. He set it up so music of his choice kicks on when you enter his space. I think it might be a good way to find a significant other, but he just seems to have posts from his friends that live hear in Minnesota. One amusing thing is that he created a space for his two cats.
The web address for this is www.myspace.com/marshallandrandall if anyone dares to look. When I read in Boyd's paper that Friendster kicked all of the "Fakesters" out and they all flocked to Myspace, I thought of the site that my brother set up for his fur balls (Boyd). This actually seems like a fun way to be creative. I'm really close to making a space for my cats so the can flame his cats. Wouldn't that be mature!