For those of you who are recent newcomers to my blog and thus know very little about me beyond what you read in my profile, I have spent the last two and half years (to be precise, since 2/10/07) tramping around the chat rooms, specifically, the chat rooms run by Topix. I have learned many a thing in those past two and a half years, and I would like to share a few of those things with you, so in case that should you decide to take that mammoth CyberWorld plunge into the phenomenon called "chat rooms", you'll be able to do it with eyes wide open and armed with enough knowledge to make the chat room revolve around you, instead of you revolving around it.
First off, let me tell you a little bit about myself as it applies to the chat rooms. I currently post under my former name here "Georgie B" and have been doing so since September '08. I have also posted previously under my real name (Rule #1a, don't use your real name) and under the monikers "Da Bishop" and "Cedar Mountain". I've also posted under a name called "Baby Gooey" but that got binged and purged when I got suspended for a week.
With the brief bio out of the way, let's begin at the beginning.
Rule #1b: It is only a chat room, therefore, DO NOT TAKE WHAT IS SAID IN IT SERIOUSLY. I repeat, DO NOT TAKE WHAT IS SAID IN IT SERIOUSLY. I've seen (and experienced) way too much heartache because people took what was said with 100% seriousness (did I mentioned that I got suspended for a week?). Remember, this is the Internet. Which brings us to....
Rule #2: People say things that they wouldn't dare say in real life. Some people lie, in order to build up their tiny self esteem so as to make themselves feel superior. So keep in mind when someone starts spewing unrighteous anger, dropping F-bombs, dropping other select adjectives, and saying that your momma howls at the moon on a regular basis, it don't mean diddly/squat to you.
Rule #3: Constructive debate is a good thing. You can actually learn a lot and make friends while constructively debating a topic or constructively talking about a topic. I've made a ton of friends during my time spent in the chat rooms. I have found that if you treat people the way you want to be treated (just like in real life), more often than not, they'll have your back if a particular discussion you're participating in (called a "thread" in chat room parlance) happens to turn nasty. Which leads us to...
Rule #4: Being able to control the situation 100% of the time. When a discussion turns nasty and the venom seems to hitting from all sides, don't respond in the same way. Rise above it all. Keep cool and stay the course, because if you do, the more irrational the jerks get, but more importantly, you'll get respect from others who may not agree with your point of view, but will admire what you do.
I've been able to deal with troublesome people simply by keeping my posts rational, thoughtful and respectful. Troublesome people hate that. The more rational I get, the more erratic and hysterical they get. More importantly, I can find a person's button to push with my viewpoint and hammer it home with enough efficiency to make an interrogator proud.
Case in point: Gay marriage. My viewpoint on gay marriage is that I don't believe in it. However, throughout all the debates I've participated in with it, I managed to keep my posts rational and above board. Because of it, I've had a couple people from the LGBT community compliment me on my rational posting style in the face of the vitriolic name calling/condemnation/unrighteous anger that I've gotten buried with. I simply hammer home my point without being disrespectful.
Rule #5: If you need to fight fire with fire, do it in a way that doesn't make you look like a jerk. There have been many occasions where I had to fight fire with fire, and for the most part, they were chain saw jobs done with razor-like efficiency. I don't normally recommend doing this, but if you need to seriously reign in a nasty malcontent that is creating havoc for you and your friends, this is the way to go. First off, find that particular something that you know will set them off, and secondly, keep working it (in a respectful manner of course) until they implode.
Example (and this is one of my more memorable ones): I was dealing with a former friend who was waging a one man campaign of stupid and bothering the daylights out of me and countless others, so I thought I would give him a taste of his own medicine. I would come across him on a thread with him ranting and raving like a lunatic about some perceived slight, so I would let loose with a nasty insult post (eventually, it would just become a couple of lines) and would close it out with the most tasteless comment I could come up with. I won't tell you what I said, because I don't want to give anyone the impression that I actually approve of what I said then, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I will only say that it touched such a major nerve in this person that I believe to this day he has never really forgiven me for the comment.
Rule #6: Keep your friends close by not giving them too much ammo. I know that this sounds really strange, but if you want to stay friends with the people you meet, don't give them too much personal info. Only give them what you're willing to share with everyone else online, because you can never tell what that person is really like in the real world. I've seen firsthand, the total destruction of people's personal lives, simply because one party got offended over an imagined or real slight, and decided to get even by using info that was given to them in confidence. Even had it done to me, although on a smaller scale. To this day, I'm very leery of what might happen to me with some of the leftover info that former friends still have on me.
Rule #7: Don't be afraid to report someone to the moderators. Seriously, if you're being stalked, harassed or made to look like fool (trust me, there are ways), report the troublesome person. The moderators do pay attention to complaints. They give you helpful links to their complaint form and have step by step instructions on how to do it. Just don't spend the $19.99 for the rush service. They'll do the job without you spending the money.
So my friends, if you remember these seven golden rules for the chat rooms, then you'll always have a decent time participating in this or any other chat rooms.
And, if you want to get a basic idea on how not to behave in a chat room, this particular post from the early days of my blog is a excellent starting point. If you read the entire series (located under the tag "Topix"), you'll get a very good representation on one person's experiences in the chat rooms, self-inflicted and otherwise.
A brief postscript: If you want a good demostration on how the above rules are being applied, please take note of the conversation I'm having with a friend of mine from the chat rooms in the comment portion of this blog. Right now, rules #4 & #5 are being applied with great gusto in regards to the aforementioned topic mentioned in rule #4 (gay marriage). For better or worse, what we're talking about is typical behavior in the chat rooms.