Skulking in Cyberspace
Recently Stick mentioned the constant call from some people to have a forum as part of his website. I for one agree with his decision to keep Stickmanbangkok.com forum free. There is an extraordinary amount of time needed to monitor a forum and keep it up to date. I think many of us are amazed that after putting in a full day’s work, that Stick can manage to manage just to do what he does. Also Stick, like many us, actually has a life, out of cyberspace. Unfortunately there are still too many out there in the ether who seem to have nothing better to do than live in “forumland”.
In principle I have nothing against forums. They are an excellent way to share information, meet people with similar interests, and have stimulating conversations. It is a good way to glean knowledge that you might have never stumbled on by yourself. In my opinion however, many of the Thai forums that currently exist are quite frankly not only a waste of time, but a quagmire of muddied opinions, erroneous information, and conspiracy theories and personal attacks.
Now I never knew that a certain forum existed until Bangkok Barry brought it to my attention. I won’t dignify this website by mentioning it by name. Let’s just say that all things Stickman are “discussed” there. Even as you read this, I can feel my ears burning as some of the regulars there stick the cyber-voodo equivalent of pins into my avatar. Oooooo I must be sooooo paranoid today! That’s okay, as I don’t give a rat’s ass what these folks think of me. Anyway, when I first visited this place, I was shocked to find out that Moi’s submissions to Stickman were being discussed! Their comments weren’t all that kind either! It seems that many took issue with “You Don’t Understand Our Culture”. Gee I didn’t know that I was: ignorant, naïve, and worst of all…imposing my “western prejudices” on Thailand. Even more damning; I was an American! It was as if I was personally responsible for everything George Bush had done. Apparently I was an enabler of murder because I had reamed out my Thai wife’s former high school teacher who was lecturing me about how evil America is. It’s not my intention to get into a political discussion here, I will just say that while I personally feel that there is plenty of things wrong with my former home in Farangland, (just as there is probably plenty to criticize about your neck of the woods) I don’t need to hear about it from some ignorant Thai whose knowledge of the world is pathetic at best.
Now when I first read all this, I did what any normal person would do, I responded. That was a big mistake. That was just what vipers lurking in that pit wanted. My attempts at clarifying my positions were met with derision. I was quoted “facts” from obscure books written by even more obscure authors……not all of whom I think were playing with a full deck. This was the kind of drivel you hear from Holocaust deniers. History revised to the point where it is recognizable from reality. I keep waiting to hear that the CIA killed JFK, Bobby and Martin Luther King, that the U.S government has space aliens hidden at Area 51, and “staged” 911. Oh and of course there is always the Tri-lateral commission and squadrons of black UN helicopters waiting to enslave us all. Yikes!
So who are these guys anyways? Apparently they have way too much time on their hands, since they make hundreds and hundreds of postings. There seem to be various factions who make assaults of the veracity and character of each other. Woe be to anyone who crosses their path. You will quickly be made to seem a fool. You are always the ignorant newbie, who could stand to learn a thing or two from your betters, all of whom are “experts” on all things Thai. They have been living here for many years, in some cases decades. That alone allows them to speak with authority approaching that of the Pope. So what have they been doing in LOS all these years? In many cases, not a whole lot. Some of these guys fit the profile in Stick’s recent piece describing Bangkok in the not so distant future; sitting around in a daze, reminiscing about their “glory days”.
What is it about the Internet that that brings out the worst in some people? Of course there is the anonymity of cyberspace. You are free to engage your “mouth” without the necessity of first engaging your brain. There are no consequences at all for anything you say. I believe in free speech which is NOT something that exists here in The Land of Smiles. These guys are free to babble away to their heart’s content. I would like the courtesy of people who take issue with anything I say to write to me directly, not talk behind my back. When I suggested this to these guys, and stated that my e-mail address is listed at the bottom of every submission, I was met with scorn. “E-mails, we don’t need no stinkin’ e-mails!” You know, perhaps its better that way after all.
There is plenty to discuss at this fine website. Got any opinion? Send it in! If it is even just halfway intelligent, it will probably make it here for all to see. I’ve learned so much from what people have sent in. I have received many dozens of e-mails and made some good friends, with whom I enjoy staying in touch. In the mean time Stick, thanks for keeping us all out of that quagmire!
For a long time I have been saying that there is a propensity for some to say things online that they would never ever say in person – and at long last finally others are in agreement. The big problems with many forum users is that they behave in a way online they would never behave in person. I think forum moderators need to be clear on whether their forum is a place for serious discussion and information swapping, or a place to play. Too many forums purport to welcome serious discussion but resemble a kiddy's play pen.