Friday, November 13, 2009

Is Big Brother Killing Your Internet Community?

Today Shelley and I went to a course in Creative Journalling which was fascinating and reminded me of the times before I used the internet so freely, where every year I'd get really excited about creating a journal for the coming year and what I was going to create with my life. My blog has taken over much of this role and in writing, have literally (pardon the pun!) opened myself up to public scrutiny. Not only that, but by writing my blog, starting off with my Figure aspirations and going through surgery, career changes etc, I've established a wonderful network of friends who I now see much of the time "in real life". The friendships I have made through my blogging are amazing. Today Shelley and I had lunch with Lyndsay (who isn't blogging any more - a tiny bundle of gorgeousness will do it to you :) and we were all reflecting on the same things.

When I started my weight loss journey, I was a member of a huuuge forum called "The Firm Ya Yas" - most of my compatriots there are North American and introduced me to the delights (and butt kicking potential) of Cathe Friedrich. There would be at least 5000 members in this forum and we all log on with our own user names to preserve anonymity. I started writing in the Personal Journals section of the forum and have met some smart, witty not to mention athletic women who kick it up to fantastic levels of fitness. I didn't know anyone when I started my first journal, but by the end of my weight loss journey to my first comp, I had "met" a loyal band of supporters who I still stay in touch with. Even though blogging and journalling in forums may seem personal, it's really, really encouraging to get support from your visitors (and your lurkers that come out of the closet during the really good or the really bad times ).

Which is why I was surprised when I made a rare visit to an Aussie fitness/figure forum the other day. There is a section there for "Accountability Partners" - where a couple of likeminded people team up and share the journey. From my memory it was able to be accessed by other forum members and commented upon which in my opinion would amp up the support factor. However, there was a message posted telling forum members that only the two partners and anyone else they deemed suitable (had to be screened first) could post to their particular thread. Not only that, but if you post on this forum in general, your privacy is compromised by the publication of your full name (probably a much worse scenario to have if you were hacked than having support threads with usernames, rather than full names). Then I wondered what the point of having an accountability thread was if nobody could support you on your journey - why not just cut the middle man (who's now got full control of your information/posts and prints out a disclaimer saying that they "own" everything written on the forum) out all together?

I think fine, if a forum is deliberately private (for example David has a forum within Leanness Lifestyle that is for members only) and you agree to it, yes, use your name by all means, but for a forum and site that I assume is trying to attract new members, it makes little sense.

It's a scenario unfolding in this neck of the woods that's an eerie blend of "Animal Farm" and "Big Brother". Who's the animal at the top who's controlling everything, under the guise of an 'even playing field'? Very concerning indeed.


One of the ideas of the journalling course was to collect your passions and write about them:
This took a bit of thinking, but my passions for this moment are:

a) The rights to Freedom of Speech and Expression in the Digital Media
b) The Art of French Cooking (though you'll never ever see me cook Sole Meniuere, it just sounds delightful)
c) Piranhas (Teeth, Grip, Razor Sharp, Bites Hi Power, Tears You Apart!) - much more on that at a later date
d) Learning another language, oui?
e) Finding out how by killing Nathan, Sylar returns (this is a complex one and never likely to be answered on this blog
f) Finding the correct balance of tracks that will completely saturate my Shimanos by Track 10 on Saturday ....weeehaaaaaaaa!
g) Tulips (I love tulips, which is why winter sun rocks for some, sorry Kek)

1 comment:

Kek said...

Tulips? I used to be the tulip queen... grew masses of them. It was my Mothers Day things to spend a couple of hours planting my tulip bulbs. They don't "go" with my new garden though, so no more bulbs for me. Oh well.

You live in the wrong city for tulips, my girl!