Messageboard type forums seem to be going a bit out of style; or at least they don’t get as much traffic as they used to. I think that is a shame. I think there is a lot more depth of discussion on forums than there is on social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter. And much more sense of community too.
As a Pagan I found such forums invaluable as I picked my way along my personal spiritual path. They were places to learn, read and discuss things with like minded souls and people who had a lot more experience than me. Pagans are still a minority and it is not always easy or even possible to get together with like minded folk locally, but forums made it possible for me to discuss ideas and beliefs with pagans in all corners of the world. I made a lot of good friends that way. I know technology moves on, but it would be a shame to think those sort of opportunities might disappear.
Although I tend to frequent Pagan forums, it is certainly not all about paganism. I love a hot blooded political debate or just sharing jokes, music or funny things I have seen on the net. Sometimes there are even special forums for “adult matters” which I also quite enjoy. Doing these things within the context of a message-board adds the dimension of being part of a community.
I guess message-boards will have to move with the times, but I hope they can adapt and be around for a long time to come. I hope however that they retain some elements that make them different from other means of communication on the net. Firstly, they are about discussion and debate; but unlike in the public square, message-boards give you time to read and digest things and to choose your words carefully in your reply. You can address and quote specific points and see more clearly the logic (or lack thereof) of different arguments. Secondly, message-boards are about community and they afford an opportunity to meet, and get to know over a period of time, people that you are unlikely to meet in any other context. Some of the people I disagreed with the most have become my best online friends.
I was discussing this theme at Earthsong Forums, my favorite message-board in recent years. We are having a bit of a members drive there so, in the interest of keeping the whole message board type forum alive and well, I’d like to give them a plug.
The concept behind the EarthSong forum is simple; the planet is our home and our responsibility, and stewardship/sustainability has to be THE primary focus of the coming times. Irrespective of our personal beliefs, ethnicity, politics or preference in dog breeds (yes there’s a lot of animal lovers at ESF) we humans are all united in one common issue; our material home and it’s various imminent crises. We all share one heart, we all share the same basic needs, we all love our children, fear annihilation, and possess in varying degrees, a desire to learn, grow and make things better.
So, ESF celebrates diversity, invites controversy, welcomes humour and lunacy in healthy doses, and aims at bringing people together with an eye to discussion, personal growth and learning,and a lot of fun. Although we feature forums on topics like nature, human health, environmental issues and Interspecies communication, there are also multiple forums that focus on a wide range of spiritual and philosophical issues, and even an arts section. The point is not to discuss the material alone, but to blend and balance both material and spiritual, to explore all aspects of what it means to be human and seeking, on a planet that seems to be careening toward destruction, mostly of our own making.
If that sounds like the kind of community you’d like to interact with then please give them a visit here.
Don’t tell them what a bad girl I am when I’m not there though! 😉