In the Web 2.0 generation that we live in, forums seem almost socially obsolete. We have Facebook now, and hell if that could take down the gargantuan MySpace and Bebo that lured my generation into the personal social network for the first time, then why on earth would we need to congregate online at message boards? Often full of abusive trolls, cliques, and seeming disregard for new members (noobs) they don’t initially seem like the most welcoming places the internet has to offer, do they?
I’m not going to stand up on a soapbox and say oh, all of the above accusations are false of all forums… naturally there are going to be cliquish corners of the internet. Of course there will be trolls. But the forum offers something that may have been forgotten by Facebook: a place to go to talk about stuff, not just about yourself. That sneaky little status-update box that greets you every time you log into Facebook pleas with you: ‘What’s on your mind?’ and suggests that you tell your social network, 100, 200, 300 whatever number of people are connected to you, what you are thinking. This, generally, leaves my feed with a string of updates about how hung-over everyone is. Occasionally someone will be heartbroken and subtly whinging, someone who’s just gotten a job or apartment: the status feed is a full spectrum of emotion. People post videos and links to interesting sites too, but rarely does this provoke much in-depth discussion.
The point of the forum is discussion. Chances are, people who go to the same areas of a forum as you will have similar interests. If it’s labelled ‘Videogame’ forum, people will go there to discuss video games. If it’s got a sub-forum labelled, ‘Legend of Zelda’, chances are if you’re looking for a lively debate about Zelda, if you read around and post there, that’s just what you’ll get. Forums encourage community and discussion, as opposed to the self-indulgence that Facebook encourages. Don’t get me wrong, I status update every other day: but have become increasingly aware through browsing my news feed that this specific social network really does just want you to talk about yourself, and generally precious little else. It literally asks you, as noted above; ‘What’s on your mind?’ And say you do come across a status-update you find exciting. If you’re not feeling like saying anything in particular, you can just click the ‘Like’ button. Easy. Opinion clicked. In the forum, if you have an opinion, you have to voice it. Type it and express it in your own way. And you’re allowed to disagree too – long has Facebook been sweeping the concept of a ‘Dislike’ button under their networking carpet. So maybe participating as a member of a forum asks you your opinion, and to say it in your own way. No simple option.
So yeah, they’re a vintage thing, as a last point (and maybe last resort). They were around when Geocities was the personal website everyone wanted, remember that? Maybe they can be the online equivalent to the Polaroid Camera, let’s revive them shall we? Sure we could have it easy with the click and choose digital camera but why would we: the Polaroid is so old-school.
So, Pop Culture Monster has provided you with one brand-spanking new very vintage, very old school forum to come and play in. It has lost of different specific areas and because it’s brand new there are lots of friends to be made. Give it a try, if it’s not for you, cool that’s grand: Facebook is pretty slick and a lot of things wouldn’t be possible without it: I here am merely suggesting giving an alternative a shot too! Hear my cry: come back to the forum!