Viewer emails and an opinion piece on internet forum hostilities, reproduced below…
A note for beginners or people interested in getting started for Brad
A word on noise suppressors for Domenic
A description of my helmet setup for Dave
Internet Forum Communication is Primitive at Best
Lately I’ve been witness to an exorbitant amount of hostility inside internet forums. Usually it starts with something seemingly simple. A quick reply or a short opinion and the next thing you know an all out flaming war is well underway. Most of the time people are quick to blame the sport of paramotoring. While yes paramotoring has seen it’s fair share of bickering and behind the back mud slinging between manufacturers, it’s not until we get within the online forums that we usually see the sport’s members themselves slinging the mud around.
Now it’s normal to have competition between the players in the game – The manufacturers. Why the members? What are they so up in arms about?? Nothing. And I say nothing because a time tested method of determining the real hostility between members in this sport is the test of flying together. Not once have I been witness to a couple of people who once slang mud at each other online continue to have problems out in the field. Why is this…
I blame the very nature of the internet forum itself. And after I get done explaining my reasoning, I hope you come away well armed with the knowledge that you too, as docile and laid back as you may be, may very well get sucked into the hostility trap that is the Internet forum one day too. Here’s the issue.. In a day and age where we as the most advanced species on the planet are only expanding our methods of communication, the online forum shrinks it. Here’s how: The pronounced lack of body language, vocal tone and social cues which enable us to accurately navigate the true intentions of one another once using any other form of communication is not present inside an Internet forum; and it’s these very aids which allow us to judge the true nature of others. The same could be said for every misinterpretation ever had though however… The lack of body language, vocal tone and social cues leads to mystery, fear, and as a result, defense mechanisms in the form of outright aggression (and usually first on our part so as not to be caught on the receiving end). In other words, people are much quicker to lash out at each other within the confines of limited communication. It’s a scary reality, but one in which every misunderstanding, argument, fight and war ever had probably has it’s roots. Once we understand it, we can be on the road to a much better world, not just the one inside an Internet forum.
A simple understanding of the forces at work that put you at a disadvantage once within the limited communication channels of an online forum can arm you with the foresight necessary not to fall into the trap. Remember, sometimes it’s not the other guy being aggressive, flippant, or disrespectful. It’s your brain trying to communicate on a very limited channel that puts you, and all of us really, at a disadvantage.
All to frequently some use the protection non-face to face communication affords to say and do things they’d never have the guts to do in person. This is obvious when it happens and it worse because it happens by choice, further complicating the mess that is Internet forums and just acting as a catalyst for escalations. Once these fires are lit they hardly ever go out on their own and end up serving the sad, inaccurate pretense that the entire paramotor world is just rife with contention and drama.
So the last thing I want to say is when you see someone being intentionally aggressive online, take a step back and make a mental note of that person. I have, and I’ve ended up blocking a few people. I’m amazed at how differently my online experience goes without them “in the room.”