Many years ago – before the term ‘Social Media’ had been invented – it existed as gathering places on the internet. We called them (and still do) forums or message boards. A forum was dedicated to a single topic and people with an interest in that topic would congregate there.
Once upon a time I owned an older Mercedes-Benz and belonged to a forum dedicated to the sharing of information about maintaining these cars. Many members of the forum were experts in this area. Some were actually certified Mercedes-Benz mechanics. If you had a question or problem with your Mercedes-Benz car, you could post it in the forum and be guaranteed of receiving several high-quality answers.
A second characteristic of that forum was that it was populated by people from all walks of life that were experts in their own field. You could ask a question about your heat pump and the ‘heat pump guys’ would answer, again with high-quality answers.
A third characteristic of that forum was that each member had a reputation. You soon learned who you could trust.
There were (and still are) thousands of forums just like that on the internet. I belong to several such forums:
- Banjo Hangout for banjo players and enthusiasts
- Nikonians for Nikon camera owners
- CastBoolits for people who cast their own lead bullets
- Acurazine for Acura owners
These topic-specific forums still exist and are still active today. These forums are still filled with polite people engaged in polite conversation.
When Facebook and Twitter first emerged, they were polite places too, but that has changed. Now it is impossible to to be on Facebook or Twitter and avoid the acrimony.
As a result, I’m finding myself gravitating back to the ‘old ways’. I’m spending more time in Nikonians, BanjoHangout, and other forums dedicated to my hobbies. I’m digging up blogs about my hobbies and using an RSS reader to read them. I’m spending less time on Facebook. And my world is a more peaceful place.