Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Remembered: Message Boards

Prompt: Many of us remember life before the internet. We wrote letters instead of emails, used encyclopedias instead of Google, and went to parties that weren’t of the Twitter variety. For this week’s prompt, we want you to recall those early memories of being online. Also? No laundry lists. but...but..BUT I LOVE LISTS!!!! *sniffle* Try to focus on one small memory and share that with us. Tell us how it impacted your life and what it meant for you.

Comedy Central used to have a game show called Beat the Geeks. My husband and I used to watch the show to see if we could get the answers before the "geeks" did. Prior to that show, my internet experience was limited to surfing and a horrible chat room episode. However, I loved Beat the Geeks so much that I went exploring the Comedy Central website for information about the show, and I found a message board. A message board that was all about Beat the Geeks!

At first, all I did was lurk and read threads. There was so very much to learn! How does one join a message board? How do you post on one? What if you want to start a thread of your own? What if a person posting on a thread is a complete moron and doesn't know it?

I decided to jump into the pool fully clothed, and joined up. This very first act presented me with a frustrating dilemma: choosing my message board name. Your online name, if not your own, must suitably reflect some part of your personality. There were people going by the name of Labrat, Juleska, Jillsmo, Goddess, etc. Really cool names!!! I had to at least think about a decent name!

I admit that I became vexed; the first fifteen names I tried were already taken! Finally, my love of slips of the tongue led me to the name FreudianSlip. Nobody else had that name. I was ridiculously happy about that, I am embarrassed to admit. I posted my first response to a thread. I had never done anything like this. What if they hated me?

Fortunately, I did not attract any trolls my first visit. I spent quite a bit of free time on the message boards after that first foray into the wild. I learned not to feed the trolls, which was a very valuable lesson that I could apply to my real life as well. I made some online friends, too. When Comedy Central deleted the Beat the Geeks board due to a troll infestation, a bunch of us migrated to a new board. We still wanted to hang out together, so as a group we made it happen.

We've been together, for the most part, ever since. We come from all walks of life and all parts of the world with the common goal of just hanging out together. We share our experience, our wisdom, and our ignorance with each other. I've said things to these people that I wouldn't dream of saying to anyone else, especially around this part of Texas. The language alone would curl the nose hairs of a sailor, but it's usually all in good fun. We don't all get along all of the time, but some of our discussions are quite lively. The closest comparison of this message board and what came before the internet is a pen pal. I have had about thirty pen pals for ten years, without the postage fees. I have learned quite a bit from these people over the last ten years, things that I wouldn't have discovered on my own. I have even learned an excellent recipe for mango salsa!

Over the years, some of the people from the message board have met up in person in Vegas, at weddings, and on various other occasions. We've shared pictures of our children and have grieved over the deaths of family members as if they were our own. We have become a family of sorts, in a weird Jerry Springer sort of way. I like that.


  1. Me too. I'm so grateful for my internet family. People who haven't been a part of it don't understand it, and I'm ok with that. We're a great group of people, and boy have we been through a LOT! LOL!

    Lots of love,
    YellowSub (aka: Kimberly) ;-)

  2. Oh my, do I ever love this! Connecting online via real life interests- gasp!

    Also? I remember the screen name thing, too! How can all of our creative unique ideas possibly be taken!? :)

  3. How awesome to still be friends with those people!

  4. Oh my gosh. I forgot about chat rooms! I never tried one, because I was too scared. I didn't know what would happen!

  5. Wasn't it crazy to come up with such a "unique" name and then find out that it was gone?

    I like that you have stayed in touch and met up with people and really cultivated the relationships over the years.

    So yay! for Beat the Geeks :)

  6. I can totally relate to the, "what if they don't like me?" aspect of launching into online communication. I think it's somehow more intense online because you know nothing or next to nothing about the people you're interacting with. And yet, it's also more freeing, because you know nothing or next to nothing about the people on the other side of the screen name. It's a strange dichotomy.

    Nice post on the prompt. I think it's great, and truly amazing, that you've kept in touch with the Beat the Geeks group all these years. Fantastic.

  7. I met one of my closest friends on a board for moms who had babies with sleep issues. For some reason the board was very empty... I posted anyway, desperate for help with my then 6 month old and a few days later someone replied. She had no advice for me but was in the same situation with her 6 month old. She asked if we could be sleepless mom buddies.

    5 years later we are still sleepless mom buddies! Her husband calls me her imaginary friend... one of these days we'll meet and I'll be upgraded to a 'real' friend! :P


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