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!