Internet Forums: Only For The Quick Witted and Thick Skinned

Love 'em or hate 'em, there's no denying we've all entered into transatlantic pissing contests on internet forums. If you ask me, it's where all the cool people hang out...
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Love 'em or hate 'em, there's no denying we've all entered into transatlantic pissing contests on internet forums. If you ask me, it's where all the cool people hang out...

I love posting on Internet forums. This must make me old school. In this Twitterati age it's like confessing to being a fan of vinyl.

It gives you a say. It allow you to share your thoughts with like-minded people, and better yet, it can lead to vitriolic spats with invisible strangers who take the opposing view.

I've reached the conclusion that a lot of people post for the sheer joy of contradicting other people's opinions. I know I do. If you're passionate about sport, as I am, you'll have very strong opinions. And forums are a great chance to express those opinions in the most forthright, confrontational way. When you come across a fellow poster on a forum as opinionated as you, it can become hilarious in its childishness, as each of you determinedly tries to get in the final word.

It's part of the joy, the juxtaposition between deep and meaningful, and fun and frivolous.

I once got into an almighty stand off on a football forum regarding Sven-Goran Eriksson during his reign as England manager. I maintained he was an imposter, and a charlatan; sort of a gentleman thief who had conned all those around him into thinking he was a master tactician, while in reality pulling off an amazing heist, taking the F.A. for millions.

He produced stats to suggest Eriksson's record as England coach was above-average. I replied that there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. He said it was a great achievement to get England to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 2006. I replied that it was no achievement whatsoever to edge past the mighty Ecuador in the last 16 before going out pitifully against Portugal.

He later resurrected the thread, following McClaren's abysmal tenure, using this as further proof of Eriksson's excellence. I responded that McClaren's uselessness had no relevance whatsoever to Eriksson's managerial ability. We could have gone on for a matter of years. Luckily, he cut things short by eventually responding, 'At least my girlfriend doesn't have a bucket c*nt like yours'.

As forum ripostes go, I could only sit back and admire that one.

Visit DigitalSpy's forums and you'll see similar spats develop. It can be really entertaining upsetting the sensibilities of people who post on there. It's fun playing devil's advocate if only to see other posters' reactions.

While other posters on the same thread keep to the OP (original post), your individual grudge match can continue over a matter of pages

They'll often do this thing where they'll copy and paste what you said, and break down each sentence, interjecting their counter-argument. You can then respond by pasting what they said in their reply to your post, and deconstructing their words. While other posters on the same thread keep to the OP (original post), your individual grudge match can continue over a matter of pages. I'd highly recommend throwing in words such as 'specious'. That will be guaranteed to stick in their craw.

One forum grabs my attention like no other atm (at the moment) – 'Chit Chat' on Betfair. Check it out some time. It throws up some of the most inspired, leftfield forum posts around.

A recent one was entitled, 'On average how many times does a man wank in his life?' Now some might consider that fatuous but I make no apology for finding the poster's question an intriguing one, worthy of serious deliberation. 5,000 was my initial guesstimate. Not sure if I'm remotely close with that. It's a tough one to call.

Chit Chat posters look to share the best of life, the absurdity of life, in between debating 'women who aren't stunners but you fancy'. It's part of the joy of Chit Chat: the juxtaposition between deep and meaningful, and fun and frivolous.

Yes, debate can get heated, it can lead to name calling, but generally there is good natured piss-taking on there

It's unafraid to tackle subjects others might consider too provocative, and incendiary - 'which 5 countries would you most like to get rid of?', 'Are world war II veterans racists?' 'Are we breeding a bunch of thickos?'. Yes, debate can get heated, it can lead to name calling, but generally there is good natured piss-taking on there, there is enormous wit and there is even compassion.

At their best, Chit Chat threads border on the existential, offering far greater insight into life in 2011 than anything you'll ever read in the papers or watch on tv. One that struck a chord with many recently was, 'The futility of life, are you happy?' There were over 500 replies to that.

This is a forum that can throw up wise and insightful social commentary and shine a light on the human condition. It can provide rich pickings for those who still enjoy engaging the old grey matter and making new discoveries – 'List of beautiful songs', 'Grumpy old men, the old days how good were they?'.

Some threads on there become epic - 'My g/f went out with her mates last night…' was a legendary one running to over 1200 replies after the OP hinted at some impropriety taking place. It turned out he was 'fishing' - he'd made the whole thing up – but it didn't stop it being laugh out loud funny to read.

Chit Chat's randomness is another delight – 'short shorts, when and why did they disappear?', 'Tell us a story about a strange person you've met'…  Where else would you find a 'Definitive proof of God thread' sitting alongside one entitled, 'People who don't indicate at roundabouts'?

Stick with forum posting, I say. Facebook and Twitter appear like crass, showy and ultimately shallow distractions by comparison

Forum posting also encourages literacy – mastering the art of constructing, in written form, a cogent viewpoint, instead of being reduced to inane text speak or lazily clicking on 'like it' icons. Yes, it has its own abbreviations - iirc, fwiw, imho - but beyond that you will read extremely articulate posts.

Stick with forum posting, I say. Facebook and Twitter appear like crass, showy and ultimately shallow distractions by comparison. There is a genuine community spirit on Chit Chat you won't find on social networking sites, despite posters being total strangers, remaining hidden behind their usernames, and regularly hurling abuse at each other.

From irreverent and subversive to illuminating and thought-provoking, contributing to a Chit Chat thread can brighten up your day no end, and make you feel less alone in sharing the exact same thought as your fellow poster. Visit it some time. It's where the interesting people hang out. And if Chit Chat represents some alternative, Luddite future, a Luddite I am happy to be.

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