Write What You Know
There is nothing scarier than being on the wrong side of a group of women. And I stand to place myself in exactly this position if I write what I'm thinking about what's going on in a certain fragrance board which I frequent ... I ask that you please forgive the "non-global" nature of this post -- but, actually, human behavior being global, maybe it is. Because it's all about human behavior in general, women's behavior in particular.
For the past two years, I have enjoyed learning about perfume and making friends with some of the most open-hearted, sensitive women on the planet. We're a multinational, multicultural group and the miracle of cyberspace enabled us to transcend economic, social -- even language -- differences to talk about something about which we shared an interest: perfume.
I have learned more about perfume than I could have imagined possible. I learned about houses and noses and notes and effects of biochemistry ... and on the way, I learned about the women themselves. And learned to love a few of them. I formed relationships off the board that are extemely important to me and that I hope to continue for years to come. Those relationships are real, not cyber. Although we conduct them via email, mail and phone now, I know we will eventually meet and continue them IRL ("in real life").
Sure there were those whose posts irritated -- and I'm sure I sometimes irritated others with the approach I took -- particularly when I once posted about the prevalence of "off topic" posts, wondering if the board was losing its focus.
Many pointed out that the OT posts were a primary way of learning to know each other, and that they were valuable in that regard, even if the prevalence of posts on television shows, emotional hardship and every other imaginable topic seemed to sometime dominate the board. They pointed out there was an ebb and flow to the board content, that it was self-regulating, that the golden mean would reestablish.
It had seemed that the mutual love of fragrance drew together a very knowledgeable, intelligent group of women, women who shared a commonality of wit and good manners, who moderated their online behavior to accomodate others' opinions, women who were willing to learn as well as teach.
We're having a hard time with moderation of behavior on that board right now. There seems to be an unlucky confluence of intolerance of others' "weaknesses" and an insistence on being heard, even if one is bullying others -- overtly or covertly -- to make certain their voice rises above all others. And this has had a sad, damaging effect.
Some -- I'm one of them -- react by withdrawing from the community discussion. And maybe that's not a bad thing: one less voice to exacerbate the tension that seems to surface so often right now. Others remain, attempting to reestablish the board's equilibrium by continuing to make their good-humoured, well-informed posts on relevant topics.
I have such hope that those who said the board is self-regulating are right ... and that the board will regain its balance. I haven't lost the women who are dear to me -- but I do miss the congenial sense of community we shared on that board. I hope we get it back.