Forums and social networking: the good, the bad and the (I’m pretty sure they are) ugly

This may or may not come as a bit of a shock to those who know me, but I have very little confidence and possibly even less self esteem. I can often be heard to say “I hate people” but in fact I only really ‘hate’ people (in general; you are all lovely individually…okay, most of you are) because people are my biggest phobia.

I live in constant fear of new social situations; am I being polite enough, would it be best to make a joke, should I not say anything at all? When I’m out and about if someone I don’t know starts talking to me about the weather or road works or anything in general I tend to panic and have a full on physical reaction – racing pulse, shallow breathing, shaking and nausea.

Despite all of this, lately I’ve been attempting to branch out in order to reach a wider audience and also to seek advice, and talk to like minded people. So far, most of the experience has been positive. I’ve chatted to some very lovely people on Twitter through the SO project, and (hopefully) made some new friends. Unfortunately, I’ve also hit the downside pretty quickly too. Allow me to fill you in with a LONG (possibly dull) story…

I’ve always been interested in photography; I can’t go anywhere or to any kind of event without a camera, whether that be my phone or my point and shoot. It makes a good tool for blogging (as you other bloggers will know) and I also think I’m pretty good at it – composing shots and the like. I am however, a complete amateur and have recently decided I want to upgrade my camera to either a bridge or a DSLR in an attempt to learn the art of photography properly.

I went about it in what I felt was a sensible way; asked a few friends (by a few, I mean one) and once I knew what I was after and my budget, I looked at some forums. Several others seemed to be asking for similar advice to myself and I noticed a lot of responses were a bit harsh, such as there not being enough detail about budget or what the camera would be for. So, I took it upon myself to write out a fairly lengthy post, stipulating what I needed, what my budget was, my skill level (zero) etc. I thought I’d hit all the important ‘marks’; oh how I was wrong…

I mainly got cocky replies, very few being helpful. These included pointing out that bridge cameras are not DSLRs (I had noticed thank you, especially after specifying I’d prefer a bridge to a DSLR) as well as several cameras that I should buy instead that are out of my stipulated price range.  Thanks for nothing! I spent more time defending my position than receiving advice on what to buy.

I chose forums and specifically the boards aimed at beginners so that I might get patient advice from others who would appreciate I am a complete amateur and, considering the others on the forum should (in theory) also be amateurs (yes some a lot more advanced non-professionals, but still) I thought there would be some patience there. I expected some queries maybe asking for a few more specifics; am I prepared to buy second hand etc and a few suggestions of what features I should/should not be concerned with.

I went to bed on Saturday night incredibly upset, with what little confidence I still possessed battered and bruised. My husband, who is possibly one of the kindest and most patient people I know (especially with regard to my many ‘quirks’) told me not to take it to heart and try again in morning. Sure enough, when I awoke on Sunday morning, there in my inbox was a message reply posted on one of the forums. Some kind soul had taken my post for exactly what it was and offered me some constructive advice.

It was on the back of this that I then posted again in the forums and finally saw some pleasantries appear out of the woodwork. I then (in a shockingly brave move by me) decided, on the spur of the moment to join that evening’s LBloggers’ chat on Twitter. It’s (not really) ironic in that this week’s topic was positive vs negative posts, considering I’d already started writing this. There was a good range of opinion put forward and everyone was really nice. I thoroughly enjoyed the chat and spoke to some lovely people.

Roll on this morning then…I decided to put forward the idea of buying a second hand entry level DSLR, which is within my budget. On the first of the forums in question, everyone seemed to think it would be better than any bridge camera I would choose to buy. On the second however, someone suggested I should skip entry level and go for something more advanced, which I can’t afford. They have renamed my budget as ‘my self-imposed limit’. That self imposed limit, folks, is called my bank balance! Then finally, on the third, I got this:

Well, it’s not a bridge camera nor will you find it within your set budget.

Perhaps it would be better not wasting people’s time

Well **** you then!

I am incredibly frustrated, I used to enjoy posting on message boards with like minded people ‘back in the day’, but someone always comes along and ruins the fun, which is why I stopped. This was like a cold, bitter reminder.

It is a shame, as I’ve been a bit more adventurous by joining The SO project and participating in the Twitter chats on a Tuesday night, (and the LBloggers chat as well now on Sunday). This luckily for me has been a mainly positive experience (granted, I could probably be a bit more active in the chat rather than cowering overwhelmed as the links and posts roll in; but I find myself with a million tabs open, trying to read through and comment on as many as possible) and everyone has been lovely and pleasant to chat to, sharing ideas and suggesting new products to try. It was off the back of this new found confidence that I decided to try seeking help in forums. I mistakenly thought the creatures that inhabit them would be just as kind and friendly.

Has anyone else experienced this? Have you had some disastrous encounters on a forum or Twitter or other social network? Do you know anything about cameras? Please comment below!

In the mean time, I’m still very much looking forward to the SO project chat tomorrow night despite me not posting this week and to the next LBloggers’ chat next Sunday!

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4 thoughts on “Forums and social networking: the good, the bad and the (I’m pretty sure they are) ugly

  1. I used to be semi active on many crafty and fan forums and I have left most of them because of other people’s lack of social skills. I found that people were incredibly rude and belittling, they knew it all (when really they knew nothing) and if somebody new came along they were not at all kind and welcoming. I now belong to three forums, all of which are full of lovely people who I now count as my friends. My Quilt Ladies even sent me a quilt and beautiful flowers to mum and I when we had our kidney transplant. Twitter is a whole other kettle of fish! I ended up closing my twitter account and opening a new, very much locked down one with friends whom I had known for years and am very picky about new friend requests. This was because of the way people would jump on you and insult you simply because you had different opinions, or because they were nasty people. I refused to stop interacting with my good friends because of the rudeness of strangers, hence the drastic move! I don’t really do other social media other than Facebook, which again is firmly locked down and always has been. It gives me great pleasure to ‘ignore’ people who caused me misery in the past 🙂

    Sadly my photography is very much of the point and shoot variety, I’m not at all good at it so unfortunately can’t help you there 😦

    • That’s really lovely! It’s good to know that some good does come of the internet!

      Other than the blog Twitter account, my own personal one is locked and secure and I’m very careful about who I accept on there for the same reason.

      I was a member of a message board from being about 19 (the page just had comments prior to this being made in WordPress so had been commenting since I was about 16/17). The people were (mostly) really nice and it has now become a Facebook page and a Facebook group which I occasionally comment on. I have made a friend or two there; one of which turned out to be a friend of a friend who I (sort of) already knew. I think it may be the only forum I’ve ever received kindness on and to be honest, I find a lot of them can be ‘cliquey’ unless you’ve been a member since day one. They seem to be designed to help people who have less knowledge, but instead become a soapbox for those who arrogantly think they know it all.

      There is nothing quite like hitting ignore to those kinds of people!!!

      • Precisely why I now hate forums pet. People seen to forget that at the other end of the post asking for advice is an actual person, who is asking for advice. Not be belittled, mocked or generally insulted. The anonymity of the Internet has a lot to answer for. I’m sure the folk who respond with such harsh comments wouldn’t dare say that to your face (or anyone’s face, not just your face) in real life.
        They don’t know you. They don’t know that by coming across as a total arsewipe they’re just making you look even more awesome than we already know you are.
        Chin up. Just remember, there are still nice people in the depths of the interwebs.

      • I know I’m really lucky to have lovely friends like you two, as well as those who don’t come on here, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I’ve been so excited at the prospect of taking up photography, I love it, I just thought I was too thick and talentless to actually do something about it previously and this has just made me feel stupidly insecure. If that’s what people who consider themselves to be amateurs, do I want to be one of them?!

        Some nice bloke has since given me some good advice on a camera on the first forum and bro-in-law has on Facebook as well. I’m also thankful to the first friend who didn’t laugh and gave me advice in the first place. I just don’t understand how so many other people lack common courtesy online! I love that the anonymity and freedom of the Internet allows me to write this blog and do what I love, but it’s frankly astonishing the things people are able to get away with online!

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