What is the role of the SDMB in your life? (VERY long OP)

I’ve recently been a lot more active on the boards than is usual for me, as I’m currently a housebound convalescent and have little else available to me in the way of intellectual stimulation or entertainment. I’ve come to appreciate the SDMB more than ever, although my more frequent and sometimes less-thoughtful than usual posting has led me to stick my foot in my mouth or make a fool of myself more than once during the past couple of weeks! But as embarassing as that is, there’s a silver lining for me since thinking about how to deal with am embarassing situation at least gives me something to occupy my mind.

In thinking more about the SDMB, I’ve also been thinking about how I treat the board and the sort of role it has in my life. I thought it might be interesting to start a thread on this subject to share my thoughts and learn about those of my fellow Dopers. I’m sure there’s a wide range of opinions here.

I’m about to go on at great length, so feel free to skip down to the last two paragraphs where I sum things up.

I’ve been online since I was a child of eleven, and have participated in many kinds of forums, including major online service message boards, local BBSes, e-mail lists, and Usenet groups. Yet from the time I first discovered it, I always treated the SDMB a little differently. For one thing, I lurked for eight or nine months without even registering! That’s something I’d never done before. I’d long known enough to know that a bit of lurking is a good idea, but I don’t think I’d ever spent more than a few days checking things out before jumping in. Yet the SDMB was obviously different from the other forums I knew, and I treated it differently from the beginning. I read the discussions and didn’t feel that I had anything to say. This wasn’t because they were boring, stupid, or uninteresting – quite the contrary. It was because there was nothing I had to say that someone else didn’t say, and often better than I could have said it. This was a new experience for me. In every other forum I knew, I could see “holes” in at least some of the discussions, places that almost seemed to call out for my two cents. But not here. So for close to a year I treated the SDMB the way I might a magazine with an intellectual bent. It wasn’t an interactive medium for me, although I read it regularly, thought about the issues and points raised by the writers, laughed at the humor, and even discussed it with friends. I finally decided to register and post because after many months of reading I came across a thread that did seem to have a Lamia-shaped hole in it. I didn’t make a big splash, but a couple of posters expressed appreciation for my remarks and I soon felt confident enough to begin posting in other threads.

These early experiences shaped the way I feel about the SDMB. I see it more as a place to read than a place to write. I see it more as a place for exchanging ideas than making personal connections with others. The latter is a bit unusual for me, as I have made friends on other forums, real friends, the kind who have you on their Christmas card list and remember your birthday. But somehow the SDMB is not that sort of place for me, although it clearly is for others. I can count on one hand the number of Dopers I’ve ever so much as sent an e-mail to. I did attend the May 2002 Londope (and had an especially good time doing “girly shopping things” with Anahita and Fierra), but I’d been a bit nervous about it beforehand and the main thing that convinced me to go was the astounding coincidence that it was scheduled for the exact same day as my first day alone in London after completing a group study tour.

For the most part, however, I not only feel that I have not forged personal ties with other Dopers but that this isn’t even something I’d like to do. I don’t like to share personal information unless I think it will be important in helping others to understand my perspective in a discussion. I don’t start a lot of threads. I have a low post count too, especially considering how long I’ve been here. I’ve avoided naming my hometown or the town I go to school in because I don’t want to encourage area Dopers to ask to meet me in person. When I found out by chance that a hallmate was a Doper I was impressed but a little uneasy, and greatly relieved when she said that she was a lurker who read the SDMB rarely and didn’t recognize my username. I like to think that I’ve kept a low profile, and it troubles me when it seems that I have not. This attitude has probably made me seem stand-offish at times. I know it’s often made the things I say in my posts harsher and than the things I say to people in person. I certainly don’t post things just to be mean or in hopes of upsetting people, but since I’m not looking to make friendships or win any popularity contests here I tend to be blunt, sometimes even bitchy. I say what I think without worrying much about trying to candy-coat things to make them easier for others to swallow.

The more I think about all this the more I think that it’s not just because I value my privacy, although that’s certainly a big factor, but because I find the SDMB a little intimidating. I consider myself to be an intelligent young woman, and it’s rare for me to meet people in real life who I think are as smart as or smarter than I am. This has been a source not so much of pride but of disappointment in my life (ah, the high hopes I had of being surrounded by intellectuals at college!), and is one reason why I spend so much time on the Internet. I like learning new things and being around people who knows as much or more than I do, and it’s easier to find them online. But even so, on other online forums I’ve always been a star. People didn’t always like or agree with me, and I was sometimes severely flamed, but my name often came up as a most liked/respected or smartest/funniest poster. As an SDMB lurker I quickly realized that there was little chance of my ever achieving such status among the elite company here, and so I never tried or even hoped to attain it. In many ways this has been a relief. There’s a lot of pressure involved in living up to being respected. But although I hate to admit it even to myself, I’ve sometimes felt that I’m not worthy to participate here and since I’m unused to feeling intellectually unworthy I haven’t always dealt with those feelings well. I’ve made posts that I’m not proud of, posts that may have contained real information but were as much motivated by a desire to say “Hey, I’m smart too, really!” or even “Ha ha, I’m smarter than you!” as to actually add something valuable to the discussion.

So to summarize my rambling post, the SDMB for me is an extremely interesting, entertaining, and informative source of reading material, a great forum for exchanging ideas on almost any subject, but is so good that it’s a little scary and often makes me want to remain a bit hidden…and sometimes makes me want to act out because these feelings are unusual and sometimes unpleasant for me.

Sheesh, this had got to be the longest, most personal, and probably the most self-indulgent thing I’ve ever written here. I’m sure I’d never have the nerve to hit “submit” if I weren’t bored enough to make the risk seem exciting. If you’ve made it this far please share your thoughts and feelings about the SDMB and its role in your life, not only because I am genuinely interested in reading them but because I will feel terribly foolish if no one else says anything! Don’t feel obligated to respond directly to anything I’ve said about myself or to write anything nearly this long, but please do say a little about what you thought of the SDMB when you first found it, what you think about it now, and (if you’re comfortable doing so) how all that has affected the way you interact with the board or your life in general.

SDMB helped me most with my computer problems. I also learn quite a bit here. Very entertaining at times. Viva SDMB!

My wife pretty much expects me to elaborate on each of the evening news stories each night, since because of this board I already have more information than the segment provided plus the insight of our intelligencia here. I hope I didn’t just misspell intelligencia.

Also, it provides a pretty good way of assessing your relative bent on most social issues. You’ll know pretty quickly if you’re mainstream or bending a branch.

When I’m at school I don’t have easy access to a television or even a newspaper, so the SDMB is often my main source for keeping up with current events. And it does a pretty good job of it, too!

Since I initially registered I have found that I take quite the opposite approach from you, Lamia.

I do not participate in any other boards and have no on-line friends that I constantly IM or mail to. As such, I use this to get to know other people. I have made a lot of friends IRL because of this place, and I’m always impressed not only with the intelligence of the posters here, but with their kindness and generosity.

Living far from home, I know I can come here and share experiences with folks I actually call friends - as opposed to my actual friends who never contact me.

However, I also know I can count on this place for news and current events, social and political discussions, idiotic humor and answers to questions on any topic from enlightened folks without having to rely on web searches.
That being said, want pie now.


Wow, you could be telling my story here. If you weren’t in England, I might think you actually were me.
I guess I tend to be the “drive-by” type poster. If I get in a thread early enough, I’ll post whatever non-sequitur pops into my head at the moment. Of course, it also doesn’t help your self-esteem when you try to help someone out, but because your factual information isn’t exactly 100% correct & documented, someone pounces on you, “wrong! wrong!” Once bitten, twice shy I guess.

I have little to no ego to damage, hence, 7400+ posts at this time. The SDMB plays the role that I used to use myself for rather unsuccessfully (friends were never interested in most of what I care to discuss): bouncing endless ideas out there and rebutting others to whatever ability I could, if I could. It largely remains that for me. In a very short time, relatively speaking, I came much closer to understanding my limitations than I had in all the years previous to that, for much the same reason as the OP: until I came here, I never interacted with enough people that could challenge me in such a way. I can’t even begin to imagine how many times I’ve admitted I was wrong after thinking about responses, and I can assure anyone that there are several topics that I’ve thought about long after the thread ends, only to find myself wrong in that manner as well. Or sometimes I still think I’m right, and keep that topic in the back of my mind, researching relevant points until I think I can mount a better attack/defense. Every once in a great while, some people even agree with me! :eek:

The SDMB is the constant foil for the thoughts in my mind in more ways than I could ever imagine and in more ways than I have personal access to in any other medium or by any other method. It is the first place I go when I wake up and the last place I go before I sleep. I’m a stubborn SOB and whether I think other posters are right or not is largely irrelevant to me, what interests me is what make people come to the conclusions they do (including myself). This has unfortunately upset some people I’ve debated with who have considered it some form of trolling; I’m sorry they feel this way, but if I wanted chat I wouldn’t be on this message board, I’d be on AIM (where I am most of the time anyway for just such a purpose). The stronger the claim the more I want to see its development and understand it, and the more I want to be able to do the same. So, as one might guess, I largely stay in GD and The BBQ Pit, lurk in GQ and IMHO, and randomly end up in other forums on whims.

I get more out of the SDMB than that, no doubt about it. I’ve made what I would consider some online friends here, and on top of that some IRL acquaintences. But I never came here for that, and I don’t continue to come for that. That’s just fringe benefits! :slight_smile:

I like to think of the SDMB as the great cafe/bookstore down the street that I don’t have. A place where I can run into people from all over the world who have varying levels of expertise, amazing wit, intelligence, life experience and philosophical outlooks that are sometimes similar to mine, and sometimes alien to my own way of thinking.
I have laughed out loud at some posts, I have been moved to tears at others. I am almost always learnings something - granted, a lot of it will only be valuable when I play Trivia, but learning nonetheless.
I don’t mean to kiss butt, but the moderators are the key to the success of this board. Too often, a single crazed person can ruin a thread or even an entire board…thanks to our volunteer police force, troublemaking idiots are sent packing before they can do much damage.
I notice quite a few people feel they have “nothing to say” on these boards. I don’t think that is true. You don’t have to be an expert to ask a question. You can also give threads a boost by simply asking for clarification on a point you don’t exactly understand. A lot of people are afraid to be a part of the “me too” type of answer, but in Humble Opinion, or Cafe Society, that is totally acceptable. When someone says they think suchandsuch is a great/horrible film/movie/song - there is nothing wrong with chiming in and agreeing/disagreeing. Often the whole point is to see if people agree. I know I am sometimes less/more inclined to go to a film if I read 45 posts all saying it was crap/great.
But back to the OP - I think it is great you are here - lurking or not - and I hope over time you get the courage to add to the conversations more and more. And don’t worry about making a fool of yourself…even if you did, log on two days later and the post has probablly disappeared anyway. Trust me, everybody at some time makes a blunder when posting that they wish they could erase.
Hope to see some more posts from you soon, Lamia!

Maybe I am you, because I’m not in England at all! Sorry if I gave that impression. I’ve an American, but spent a couple of weeks in England this past spring on a study tour. That’s why it seemed like such an amazing coincidence to me that there was a Dopefest scheduled for my very first free day in a foreign city that I’d never visited before. Fate doesn’t often set things like that up for me, so I almost felt I had to go.

Thank you for the kind words. But I think that, if I may be excused for making a virtue out of what might as easily be considered a flaw, I usually don’t let fear of being wrong or looking foolish stop me if I think I have something to say. If I’m uncertain about what my true opinions are or if I think they are likely to be uninteresting to others I tend to keep quiet, but if I really want to throw in my two cents I usually do – even if I know at the time that it may make me look bad and that I might regret it later. One of the things the SDMB has helped me to do is realize that there’s no shame in being wrong as long as you can and do learn what’s right, admit to it or apologize if necessary, and maybe even help others making similar mistakes to see the light. That’s how ignorance is fought.

And while it might be nice to be a respected and admired high-profile poster, even if I were more comfortable with the idea I don’t know that I’d have the time! I mean, I have the time now, but I hope I’ll be back at school soon and I’ll have a lot of work to do if I want to graduate with my class.

I agree with erislover that the SDMB is a great intellectual foil, whether you post a lot or a little. Many posters here are great at finding and pointing out bad arguments and logical flaws, and even some of the more foolish/annoying/singleminded posters can help you to see problems others might have even with good and logical arguments. If you post a lot you can get a lot of personal feedback, and if you only post a little you can still learn from observing others. This is also a great place to be exposed to a wide spectrum of opinions on practically any subject, and that always helps to broaden the mind!

I agree with everything that has already been said, and I would like to add two other huge benefits the SDMB has:

-Hilarious stories from the likes of lieu and JarBabyJ about toilets, blimps, farting, etc.

-Doperbabes, doperbabes, doperbabes.

My primary frustration with the SDMB, and the reason I tend to frequent the less-substantive forums more than GD and GQ, is that I’ve relatively often written what I thought was a long, provocative, interesting, and well-reasoned post, posted it into an active discussion, and gotten zero response. Are my posts idiotically childish? Loopy? Boring? So sensible that everyone agrees with them and sees no need to comment? (The worst example of this was a 7-page thread on prostitution. I posted a 7-or-8 paragraph post laying outwhat I thought was an intriguing view of the topic. There was one additional post to the thread, no response at all to my post, and then the thread died. Grrrrr.)

That’s happened to me many times as well, and it has discouraged me from posting more. But I figure since I lurked for so long never saying anything because I felt the posts being made by others covered all the bases and I had nothing to add, it’s possible that some of my posts have gone unacknowledged for the same reason. Okay, most were probably ignored because they were boring or repetitive, but I think there could have been a few that were so sensible that no one felt the need to comment.

I honestly don’t know who’d I’d be if it weren’t for the SDMB: my years hree have left my wit sharpened, my awareness broadened, and my verbal skills honed to the point that i can’t even imagine being otherwise.

Before the SDMB I was so insular–all the intelligent people I knew were fundamentally like me, though I didn’t recognize it at the time. It’s ironic that it took the race and color blind media of a message board to really get across to me the incredible panorama of differnet types of people that exisit in this here world.

Yet, sadly, her spellings skills have declined sharply :slight_smile:
Lieu wrote:

intelligencia is spelled: s-m-a-r-t-y -p-a-n-t-s :smiley:
As for the OP, if it weren’t for the SDMB, I would be in a corner somewhere rocking and drooling over myself.

This place is a mixture of a bar, bookstore/cafe, church, confessional and comedy club. Pie is plentiful.

Here’s what I posted in a similar thread, entitled: “How do you use the board?”

I use it to pass time at work, mostly. It’s entertainment. I read CS, IMHO, MPSIMS, and BBQ. Very rarely I wander into GQ, but I’m not really about all the fact business, I’m more of a casual discussions person. There isn’t a single topic I’m knowledgable about that some regular here isn’t way better than me on, so no one’s missing out by me not being in GQ or GD.

I tend to cycle between those four boards throughout the day. I do hang out for a while in threads I posted in, and ones I’ve started, but few that I start ever stick around for very long. I sometimes check in at home in the evenings or on weekends, but mostly it’s while I’m at work.

I don’t really know much about the buddy lists.

Though I say I’m on more of the hanging out and socializing end of the spectrum than the dispensing knowledge end, there are things I don’t do and can’t imagine myself doing: hanging out in IRC or going to a Dopefest. I don’t know why that is, though.

I enjoy the SDMB a lot, and I do post pretty regularly. Seldom anything of great substance, but I do try every now and then. I’ve been disappointed by my share of threads I thought were going to be pretty good that sunk like a rock and I’ve seen others take off better than I ever expected.

I read this place constantly every workday and nearly every day. I’ve been a more or less regular reader and poster for about two years now. I came here from another board that had gotten too hostile and adolescent for my tastes. Sometimes I miss the shenanigans over there.

I have noticed this, though. I was there for about two years as well, I think. Maybe even less. And with about the same frequency as here. And yet, I had more of a feel for the people there. For some reason I was more able to assign personalities to the usernames there. Here, it all blurs together. There are very few people here who stand out, who I “recognize” right off the bat. I’d be reading a thread there and along would come a response from someone and I’d be able to say, “oh, I know what he’s going to say,” but here it’s always new to me because I just haven’t been able to differentiate between many people. There was a recent thread here entitled “What threads do you always find certain dopers in?” and I read it saying, “wow, I never really noticed any of that.” And unfortunately, the few people I have taken special notice of, more often than not, are due to negative reasons.

I really enjoy the SDMB, but I don’t feel a special connection to it. That’s fine; I don’t particularly need to. I’ve gotten email from dopers maybe (pause for calculation) four times? It certainly fills a niche in my life, and I go batty when it’s down and I have to find some other way to entertain myself at work, but I can’t say I think about it too much when I’m not looking directly at it.

Not sure what my point here is. I guess I’m commiserating with the OP. I too grew up on BBSes. I’ve done my share of newsgroups, other forums, and now here. During my BBS days I socialized heavily with people there, though ultimately I don’t think I’m still friends with any of them.

I’m not a social person by nature. Crowds make me very uncomfortable, even if I like every person in the room. I don’t like talking on the phone. I don’t like chatting on ICQ (I’m on it as Legomancer but I rarely have it running even though I’ve got a cable modem.) It’s not that I’m a private person - my website will reveal more than anyone has ever wanted to know about me - it’s just that I prefer it kind of at arm’s reach. I like being able to start a thread or add to it and then sit back and see what the response is, but not have to respond in kind immediately or at all. I like the medium of posts far more than that of instant chatting. I like the Schroedinger’s Cat feeling of simultaneously being and not being in this community. Until recently I stayed out of the more blatantly social threads, but I dipped my foot in some lately and it just didn’t feel right.

Man, this is sounding depressing and I really don’t intend thta. What I’m trying to say is that I think the main appeal is that this medium provides something for everyone, and this message board especially. There’s the gamut from factual to silly, from highbrow to crude. There’s some fun but not complete anarchy, civility, but not jackbooted enforcement. If you never post a word you can still read tons of entertaining and educational material on pretty much any topic. If you wish, there’s a whole world you can join up with for friendship. Or, if you desire, you can merely stay on the sides. I don’t feel that, like other places I’ve been, those that don’t frequent the IRC channel or the real-life meets are left out of the fun.

I like it here.

Nearly 4500 posts and I have no clue of how to do **buddy lists ** or **ICQ ** and my **Search ** skills are awful and I do not know what it means to **block **some one…does that mean that the person blocking them cannot read their posts?

Lamia, it’s exceedingly rare that I read introspective posts (and even more rare that I read anything that says “VERY long OP”), but this post struck a real chord here.

At first, I jumped right into this forum, as I was in a point in my life where I was making radical changes in my outlook on life and needed to find support for such. People here seemed a bit more brilliant than what I had come to expect online, and I signed right up, eager to meet brilliant people. Meet people I did – one of my first goals was to keep meeting more and more people and wanting to be known by and loved by all. I was scared to go anywhere near GQ or GD, and I mainly lurked around IMHO and MPSIMS, blithely thinking that my posts would be seen by all and known by all. Over time, it became apparent that that simply wouldn’t happen for me, and for a while I fought it viciously.

While I began to realize that I wasn’t going to ever be Ms. Popularity around the boards, I also began to read more of the more serious fora, and it became even more apparent to me that the people around here are as a whole absolutely brilliant. Like probably many here, I’ve also generally thought of myself as a somewhat intelligent person, and it’s not overly common for me to find people IRL that I think that I can truly consider much smarter than myself (although there may well be many that I simply don’t recognize, or I might just hang out with less intellectual people). Again, I find that here that not only does does my intellect not stand out, but I’m constantly learning new things and having to reevaluate my views. There are thousands of people here who are much more brilliant than I am, and I often feel quite intimidated by the high caliber of discourse here. I’ve been known to often retreat to the more lighthearted forums after realizing how very little I know and feeling intimidated once again, and in fact I’m in such a phase now.

Over time, I have come to an acceptance that I don’t have to know everyone and be liked by everyone. I’ve come to a place where I’m happy to hope that I can make a small impact on the ideas of a few. I’ve come to a place where I hope that I can interact with some, and I accept that I cannot know everyone. I’ve come to accept that I’m not as brilliant as I thought, but it’s much more enriching being simply average among many brilliant posters than standing out among less intellectual groups. I love that I can find information here and have come to read the news just as much here as through more conventional news sources. It’s been fascinating to watch this place develop, and fascinating to see people and ideas come and go, and come and go again.

As for my life in general, this place has made me want to fight ignorance a bit too much sometimes. There’s so many times when I have to bite my tongue anymore when I hear absolute stupidity. :smiley:

The SDMB’s role in my life is approximately that of television in others’, I think is the best analogy. A goodly amount of switching channels, stopping to view when something particularly catches my eye, occasionally swearing at the screen. The shows are more interesting, though.

I’m another who reads far more than he posts, and for that matter, half-posts more than posts (a half-post is where you type up something, complete or no, and then back out of it without hitting the submit button). Large parts of the OP resonate for me–not getting/putting much of a community vibe into the place, probably seeming a bit (or more than a bit) standoffish, etc.

I didn’t start out posting here to make friends. That I have gained a few from here is wonderful, but that isn’t the reason why I still hang on, after just over two years.

The place is interesting. Where else can you find out stuff, from people’s weird personal habits, to opinions on movies and television and music, to musings on the inner secrets of the stars in the heavens? Most of the time, with one driving goal – to seek out the truth, the facts, the gen.

Even with the flare-ups, the meltdowns, the spats, the blossoming immaturity often seen striding the boards looking for an outlet – this is still a good place. Good folk still outnumber the bad. There is still a level of tolerance, if at times so low as to be hardly seen.

The SDMB has helped me immensely, even with any knock-backs. It’s a strange carnival show in my life, but I am still here, watching, reading, and posting.

And – I’ve made friends. That’s the best part of all. :slight_smile:

I write more that I end up submitting :wink:
Usually for the reasons that have been mentioned before - “others say it better”.

But I like reading the posts I find here - it’s a lot like the discussions I have with my grandma - which unfortunatly are a rare thing on account of me living near the other end of the country, and both of us being stumped by telephones (conversationally.)
Now if only I could persuade my computer to drink tea/coffee with me.
SDMB is my intelligence blanket substitute.

The SDMB was something I was searching for, Something I didn’t know was missing until I found it. When I wondered on it by accident, I spent most of a day reading threads, I realized there are a lot of other warped people like me out there. For most of my life friends and relatives have just looked at me and shook their heads at my interests. They couldn’t understand anyone watching MST3K, Southpark, reading books like The Straight Dope, or debating what was to them inane shit. Hell I’m a Library cataloger who takes great joy out of finally finding the right Dewey Decimal for that impossible book.

The SDMB has become like a friend. I have learned a lot since coming here, learned to exam the way I think about a subject, not to make blanket judgements, that there is always more than one side and that insanity can be very entertaining. People such as Polycarp have made me reevaluate my Christianity. I’ve also examined my prejudice and found them no longer valid.

Obviously I don’t post often, but I read here nearly everyday. Lurking is more my style as I tend to say things that don’t come out right in person, or on paper.