About three or four and a half years ago, I discovered the American idol Discussion Board on AOL. Finally, I thought, a place where I can share my love for the show with others and discuss each contestant week after week. How great this is going to be! And that lasted not even 24 hours. Why? Because I had no idea how much women love drama and arguing. I was soon going to get a new education into the online world of chat rooms. I’ll share some of it here, from what I remember at the moment, and it will give you an idea of why I all but stopped posting there.
First of all there are some very nice people there. The majority are nice, but the few rotten apples do ruin it for everyone. Everyone has their favorite Idol, but when you try to express how much you enjoy one, the maniacs of another Idol jump in and put yours down. You can’t express an opinion without getting flack for it. Then the attacks get personal and there is name calling, harassment and stalking from thread to thread. When the attacks reach an all time high for a particular argument, personal information, pictures, and potshots at people’s children start to be posted. Some create “trolls” to do their dirty work for them. Groups form, and it’s “them” against “us,” especially after the season ends and there are no shows to distract us. The people on this board have a long history together, since American Idol has been on for nine years already, the majority know each other for many years. There is no hope for them, they are like a dysfunctional family and seem to like it that way. Every attempt to restore peace and order is sabotaged and no reasonable appeal to everyone’s kindness and compassion ever lasts more than a couple of hours before there is another clash of words.
So why am I reminiscing about American Idol? Well, yesterday I found that that board may not be the exception, but the rule. I have been visiting the Dr. Phil Housewives Facebook page for maybe 7 or 8 weeks tops and guess what? The same thing is going on in a relatively short amount of time, with people who have no history at all and have just met in this newly formed group. Yesterday the arguing escalated to the point where one woman used another’s beautiful, innocent baby against her because they baby has Down’s syndrome. How anyone can resort to saying anything like that to anyone is beyond me. This is more than hitting below the belt, this is an arrow straight through the heart! This occurred when the hurling of insults was not satisfying enough. It’s appalling the lengths people will go to to “win” an argument and lose the war. This person has now probably alienated herself from the vast majority of posters there for good. She proved she will stop at nothing to inflict pain, but what did she gain really? For me, this showed her true character and a black heart. I wonder how she can look herself in the mirror today and not be ashamed of herself.
I find all the interactions on these chat sites very interesting as a participant and an observer. I have visited other sites, for very short periods of time, and I have heard many stories of terrible experiences people have had. It makes you wonder how many people have serious mental disorders or a need to lash out and hurt others. Some are only happy if they start arguments and keep them going. The majority are at their mercy. It’s almost impossible to keep the peace, even by ignoring them. Ignoring only works if everyone does it and there are some who are always compelled to answer them.
It seems to me, that this form of social interaction is becoming a big part of many people’s lives. Maybe psychologists should be studying the dynamics of what goes on in these groups and why. I think a study of this kind would be very interesting.