Mods, I could not figure out the best place to post this, so feel free to move this thread!
I am going to try to be a more serious member after two years of lurking and posting light topics like music and art. So, here I go. This will be my first step, because it seems to be the reason I have not tired to get in depth in this forum (outside of time constraints, life eh?)
I would like to preface this thread with the following statement: I know it is gong to ruffle some feathers, and might feel like an attack on others here, but this is something I have noticed across the internet, and I have seen many elements here relating to this topic. This mostly deals with new members in the last couple of years as more people have access to the internet.
So what do I mean by "forum culture decline?”
Firstly, I would like to talk about etiquette. Forums are/can/and should be a marketplace of ideas, and a resource for knowledge and community. This only works if the members follow certain unspoken rules. I know many people have never experienced a forum before, or have limited experience with such a format. However, it is not “rocket science” to read a bit and get a feel for the flow of any forum. The first matter is redundancy. USE THE SEARCH TOOL. If a forum is open for a while, odds are most of what you want to know has been covered before. It can be tricky to find exactly what you are looking for, but there are many active members who can give help with the basics if you simply ask. There seems to be, in this forum and a few others that I was active on in the past (general occult forums), a tendency to post the most basic questions, or even more detailed ones, that have been covered for years by people who have invested years of time in the forum, not including their hours of dedication to the craft outside the digital world. That knowledge is there just waiting for you, if you take the time to find it. I honestly believe that most people are not even trying, because it is time consuming to read through threads going back years. If I have been guilty of this it is not to happen again, and I urge other new members to do the same. Double posting a topic will cause the heavy hitters and veterans of the forum to be short in response, and curt at times, as they are tired of leading a "witchcraft 101” class about the most basic topics. It also gums up the ability to search for relevant information for a specific issue with substantial information and discourse. So once again, before posting, USE THE SEARCH TOOL. Another thing I have seen here and elsewhere, lack of deference to "elders.” If someone has been an active member of the forum for years, and has spent the time to become a productive member of the forum, SHOW SOME RESPECT. I don’t care if you disagree with some, or even most of the things they say. Odds are that after years of discourse they have learned a thing or two, or a million. They have put in the time to make the forum a great resource, and even if you think they are not your "cup of tea,” I can promise you that they have some knowledge you could really use, or at least point you in the right direction. All traditional occult paths follow this model. Not talking about degrees and fancy titles. Simply giving a bit of respect to those who come before us. Etiquette rant over.
The next issue that bothers me is the persona many people are building when they join a forum. Joining one is intimidating for some people, as they may not know much regarding the subjects that are most often discussed. However, I see a very bad coping mechanism born out of this. People are more and more inflating their sense of self to absurd proportions. You do not have to claim to be a practitioner of a line going back generations. I would like to clarify, I know many of us have been handed bits or in some cases fairly complete systems from family members older than us, and this may go back many generations. In my case I will give an example: my mother passed to me some traditions, that her grandmother passed to her. Some of that information is really important to my practice, but much of it is blurry and not useful. I know from family oral traditions that we had healers, witches, and basically village counselors who were just wise people that helped their communities. I am happy to know that, but I can’t claim but a fraction of that knowledge as it was lost over the generations. I see many new members trying to build a “big” history to seem more legitimate. For those of you that were handed detailed information, or even the almost mythical family grimoire, right on! The reality however is usually much less exciting. Another issue regarding the trend of false personas is the issue of exaggerating skills and abilities in the craft. You are not Harry Potter or Gandalf the White. Fantasy is fun, but it is just that. There seems to be a lot of outright lying or delusion causing people to claim absurd powers, and makes them defensive when a more knowledgable or skilled practitioner weighs in. Be yourself and I promise you this, people will enjoy your presence on the forum much more. The final issue I have is humility. Most new members try to save face when they say something that is generally deemed incorrect regarding the relevance to the thread, the information stated, or being corrected or challenged by more knowledgable members. It is ok to say “I don’t know” or ask “What is that? Why is that? How do I…?” Thats why you probably joined a forum. TO LEARN. So, if you have an area of expertise please share and help others learn. However, put your student uniform on more often, and use the vast pool of knowledge to fill your cup. It is worth it for so many reasons. Persona rant over.
Finally, I would like to discuss a decline I have seen in many forums, and this one slowly over the last couple of years since I joined. The level of discourse is going down the toilet. If you look at the older threads, they are full of a lot of information, productive debate, and a wide range of beliefs and practices. I see that and say “pay day!” Many new members are starting new threads, or commenting on old ones. The first problem with this is that people are not adding to the discussion, but merely posting empty platitudes and useless comments. This is just more wasted space to scroll past when looking for important information. The result of this, is that our veteran members (I have gotten to know a few, by direct communication, or simply observing their posts spanning years), are not getting as involved in the public forum. They don’t have the time or desire to engage in the immaturity and watered down discussions that have been showing more frequently. If our hard hitting elders don’t want to get involved as much, we will be left with a bunch of newbies wasting each other’s time. That causes people to not be as active, and fewer people try to make it to full membership, where I can imagine from past experience in other forums, that there is knowledge you can only dream of finding. Things that are in no book, and that you have to earn a right to share. The final issue with the decline that I have seen is a social aspect. I have made friends on forums, and that is great, but I would like to remind our new members that this is not facebook. This is not a social media platform, it is a place of learning and sharing knowledge first, and if you find a friend, consider that an awesome bonus. I was guilty of this up until this return, posting mostly things outside of actual practice and not engaging in many discussions. You can talk about your favorite occult shows, share music, jokes, and the like. It is a great way to get a little fellowship. However, you should engage more in serious discussion. This will not only give you the opportunity to learn, share, and gain friendships, but also make the knowledgable members engage more, which makes the forum more valuable. Discourse decline rant over.
All of this being said, this is mostly about the last few years in forum culture, and mostly refers to newer members. For those of you that want to attack because your pride is hurt, feel free. To the veteran members that have inspired me to take my craft, and place here at TW to a new level, thank you for being fountains of knowledge and counsel for those that want to study!