Monday, October 19, 2009

Musings on Etsy forum shenanigans....

As an Etsy seller and one who frequented the forums on a daily basis for the passed almost 3 years (I almost got hired to be a forum mod at one point!) I've come to know the ebb and flow of the Etsy forums quite well, I think. I've come to know the lingo. I recognize the inside jokes. I've rejoiced in times of a united community only such an online platform can uniquely provide. I've also been witness to some of the most petty, immature, and down right defamatory behavior such a platform of assumed anonymity can uniquely create.

It's not only my place of business, but has also become my playground. Hell, it has for a good number of people. We defend etc as a water cooler, even if it really isn't for all intents and purposes (after all, the water cooler is usually concealed in the back room, and even then when congregation commences around the jug banter is usually quietly exchanged and isn't an all consuming, all day affair....)

That said, I have made some fabulous friendships in the Etsy forums that I think is pretty amazing since we've never actually met face to face. Say hello to the 21st century community. I've laughed with these people. I've wasted time with them. I've learned from them. I've grown with them. Just like any other relationship, only separated by the glowing computer screen and countless miles between us in “real” life.

Something happened the other day though that made me question whether it's all worth it. A member of the community was in trouble and needed help. So I answered the call, without question, and basked in the glow of good karma for all of a few hours until the blog rings, forum threads, and twitter feeds began to buzz with the snarky, largely anonymous cattiness that sought to degrade the efforts of those of us simply attempting to do some good for another individual in need. The worst part? The nastiness spread like wild fire and soon a simple, random act of kindness was reduced to a verbal civil war with factions and derogatory flames the likes of which would make even children question the maturity of the “adults” involved.

It seems we haven't really come all that far from the days of the sophomoric, wittless jabs at complete strangers on AOL pick-your-number.0 from behind ripped and photo-shopped pop culture avatars and cutesy inane screen names flanked by numbers cause all the “good” names were snatched up in the mid-90's. One would think, like anything else, the internet might evolve. Technologically it most certainly has. But it's community, for the most part, has remained a stagnant snap shot of years long passed. You tube videos are full of the useless rants of bored trolls who are simply legends in their own minds, yet we lift some of these Perez Hiltons and Joe Cockers up to the point of social network celebrity...a quite new phenomena I'd love to toss in the annals of history to be long forgotten.

It's a double edged sword.

With new media apparently, all of our opinions matter. Freedom of speech at its most unabashed. Good for the tear stained, emo loner desperately seeking attention, be it positive or negative. Bad for societal intellectuality that seems to die a little every time Larry King interviews the newest internet sensation as if to validate the preposterous musings of some tired asshat transparently lamenting celebrity whilst working their bum off at becoming that which they profess to loathe. To a lesser extent we take what some of these bloggers have to say and run with it, as if it really matters. In the end, just like this here blog post you're reading right now, it's all just personal opinion and carries no weight unless you allow it to.

The championship of hypocrisy. The downfall of intelligence. I'm at an impasse it seems. It's no secret unnecessary and trivial controversy is not only tolerated but brain candy for a large portion of the zombified masses who simply traded Jerry Springer and Maury for Twitter and blogrolls. But when I find myself caught up in it simply because of a charitable contribution, I have to take a step back from it and wonder, why?

This *isn't* Springer. No taglines that read "Pregnant hos and the midget pimps who knocked them up" are splattered across the screen to let us all know what we're getting ourselves into. And I for one kinda like that predictability.

A cautionary word to the wise who's made it this far through my admittedly extended and meandering diatribe - it's the internets people. Just a bunch of tubes and words. We could get caught up in what I've outlined above. Or we can move on. I shall do the latter. But...I will move forward with this morsel in my belt as a reminder. Don't get involved, it'll only end up hurting your head. That is all.


Felt on the Fly said...

Good for you. Stand up and vent! And you did it well. I know it's crazy in the forums. You can get your head snapped off in a New York minute for the most ridiculous reason. And I've been thinking for a while now how sad it is that "what happens in Etsy, DOESN'T stay in Etsy" any more. Yup, it spills over into Twitter, onto blogs...viral, for sure! And the petty arguing and the I'm-more-right-than-you-in-42-different-ways gets tiring.

The other day I tweeted "agreeing to disagree is an option, you know". It makes sense to me. I'll keep helping people in the forums because I like to. Did you know Slavko? I try to be nice to other Etsians because of him.

I think I may be rambling - sorry. Thank you for your brave post.

Comfortable Shoes Studio said...

I avoid the forums. Too much drama. I used to like it, checking out what people were saying but I've noticed recently there's a negative glow, a sad dismay. Sales are low so people lash out. it's sad and I for one, am done with the forums. done.

Aja said...

I like "agreeing to disagree is an option", and well, agree ;)

I talked with Slavko a few times, yes. I wish everyone would be a little nicer simply because it's the right thing to do, you know? The world is already full of enough hate. Why should we as individuals contribute to the negativity? I dunno. I know my post doesn't really was more the pondering of a caffeinated Etsian/twitterer/blogger tired of the nastiness :P

Erika said...

Thanks, Sag; I needed this first thing in the morning :)

Aja said...

I know, it's kind of a jarring (and long!) read so early in the AM.

I guess we sometimes need to just get it all out to be able to then move on. Unless you're some people, who seem to want to milk a situation for all they feel it's worth.

MAB Jewelry said...

If someone is in trouble, and his friends choose to help him out, there's really nothing negative to be said. It's no one's business. Sometimes, people just seem to enjoy picking fights for no apparent reason.
I never understood fighting in the forums. It's like fighting with make-believe creatures.
Most etsy people are kind-hearted and quick to help one another. It's one of the things I love most about the site. Thanks for being one of those people.

Mia Sophia said...

I wish you could see me stand and applaud. This is why:
"Bad for societal intellectuality that seems to die a little every time Larry King interviews the newest internet sensation as if to validate the preposterous musings of some tired asshat transparently lamenting celebrity whilst working their bum off at becoming that which they profess to loathe."

Very articulate, very well put! now, can we address balloon boy? God save us all!

Helen (Secret Lentil) said...

it may be all tubes and words but i'm glad i "met" you there!
: )

by Patricia Wood said...

I am sometimes amazed by what I read in the forums. Thank God there is still some inspiring "positive" threads that are a joy to read.
Thank you for these beautiful words:)

Artist Jennifer Swiderski said...

I haven't been on the Etsy forms since I signed up,(and your post is exactly why) so I didnt witness what happened, but I am glad you wrote about this.
There are those like me, who were struck by this as soon as we tried to use the forms, and never say a word, and just dont go back. Because really, I have enough in my life, and dont want to be associated with that kind of nonsense. I say good on you, for being who you are, and extending kindness to someone, because you felt it was the right thing to do. I am sorry it turned out that way.
I am also sorry to know that Esy, with all it's good, has this kind of element. And I wonder how many others has it pushed away, or turned off? it hurts us all, in the long run. It is afterall, a place of business.
thanks for being you,
and happy painting!

Aja said...

Aww Helen, I am glad to have "met" you too,as well as, of course, the rest of you guys! :)

Don't get me wrong, I do so love the friendships I have cultivated in this online issue obviously is with the asshats, who seem to outnumber the good folks 10-1 ;)

alexkeller said...

i've tried to join the forums on several occasions, but it just doesn't seem to work out for me. i'm sorry you had such a tough time yesterday.

Aja said...

Alex, it's all good. It was a "get it out and move on" type of thing. It's all good. It is how I feel about the internet as a whole though. And I will think next time before publicly supporting anyone. It wasn't anyone's business besides mine and the person who needed help and shouldn't have been up for public scrutiny in the first place, you know?

A lot of people who helped out that person were given more than enough garbage in return for their charity by complete strangers whose business it really wasn't anyways. Unreal how it can be sometimes, but I guess it is part and parcel with this new technological, largely anonymous age we have ushered in...

Adrienne said...

I love your work and have been admiring it for months now. I'm so sorry about the forums incident, that's one of the reasons I don't even bother with them. Good for sticking yourself out there for the person that needed some help. Good for not putting up with everyone elses whiny crap, and way to eloquently state in your blog your frustrations with something so seemingly simple, yet so complex! I'll be back around :)

Gina said...

This site has joined opened the doors to Esty Sellers! Look at the top of the page when you arrive on the site. "Esty Sellers-Sell More and Save On Supplies!" It will all be explained there. Etsy supports this totally FREE site or their name wouldn't be on it.