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Beyond One Syllable

Beyond One Syllable Volume 2 #2 “Goals”

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Periodically something happens on the forums that causes a small uproar. Perhaps it’s a interpersonal squabble. Sometimes it’s a controversy that gets personal. Other times it’s a case of bit of behavior that gets called out by folks. But it all adds up to drama. People get emotional, they get upset, they say and do things that are out of character. In the end some folks end up pretty unhappy, and the community as a whole seems more divided and unwelcoming.


I feel that the answer lies in the most basic of things. Why people come to a forum like the TMF, and choose to be a part of it’s community, and perhaps the larger tickling community also. In short, people’s personal goals.

I use the term goals for a very specific reason. It’s an action word when it comes to social systems. An individual usually enters a social system with an idea of what they want. It may be vague, it might be based in a self deception, it might be very general or specific. No matter what it is though, the person has a need to navigate the social system if they hope to gain it.

Not such a staggeringly hard thing to see, is it? Person wants, person works to sate want.

The issue, however, is that the individual will approach the things from a unique viewpoint and skill set, that may be inadequate, or of a style that clashes with the social structure they have entered. So through error or misunderstanding, they end up in conflict with the structure. Or the person might view the structure itself, wrongly or rightly, as an impediment to their goal, and find themselves feeling they are in a battle before they even start to interact.

In both cases we have a recipe for eventual conflict.

This conflict is often very heated because of the most popular goal that people who join forums like ours pick; To feel accepted by others for who they are.

This makes rejections, failures, and conflicts very personal. It magnifies the feelings that “They” are trying to keep one “Out”. It makes a person fixate on one set of hurdles they have run into while remaining blind to other factors, from without and within, that also cause them to stumble. It makes things hurt. And hurt people lash out and try to hurt back. Once again, we see a spiral of escalation of negative things.

All of this is basic sociology.

The same basic principles which guide the forming of social groups in the ‘Real World’ are active online also. This is deceptive. An online forum looks like the most even playing field that can be imagined. You create an account and post. Tada! You are now an active part of the community. Yes, true, but being active IN a community and being a part OF it are very different things. And remembering that most folks basic goal is to be accepted, just being able to post is not enough. They want to be heard, understood, welcomed, cared about, not rejected, not ignored.

Just posting does not achieve this. It’s a step, but it’s not the only one. And here is the sticky point. Social dynamics are the major factor that play here now. Does the community see the new person as someone they ‘like’? Does the community see the person as making contributions they approve of? Does the community currently have the time and patience to deal with new folks? And so on. Most importantly, social passage takes time. It’s not instant, nor is it fast in most cases. It takes time. Patience and honest effort are the two factors that get most people past that. Both are needed.

There is no instant results. New people are strangers. The community will sit and watch them before making them part of their circles and games. People don’t hug strangers for a reason. Social acceptance is a form of a hug.

Some people will fail to be accepted. For many reasons. They will find a place to place blame. Mostly it will be upon that place which has rejected them. That is how we get more conflict. Rejection equals anger and charged bad feelings.

Goal thwarted, they lash out. The community naturally feel defensive and attacked, they hit back.

And the atmosphere gets more negative.

Nothing I have said above should be a surprise or revelation for anyone who has passed through high school, or spent much time playing office politics. It’s just our forum’s reflection of the classic Individual vs. Established group social dynamic that has been about forever, played out with 21st century technology.

As you watch these battles play out ask yourself these questions; What is the individuals goal who is trying to become part of something? And, How closed is the group the person is approaching?

These two facts will allow you to judge all the aspects of the story you’ll see unfolding.

If the person is socially apt, and the group has real paths for people to become a part via, then odds are the cases where there are failures are not due to some ‘clique’ or ‘lack of value in a person’ but because of specific misunderstandings and conflicts in the social path the individual has chosen for approach. Social interaction is a dance. It’s easy to misstep on all players parts. Most failures are not planed, they are the result of mistakes or lack of effort.

I’m mostly saddened that it all ends up in yelling and bad feelings so often. There is little need for that in our adult lives, and all of us should be more mindful of all the aspects that are at play in any social interaction that involves group dynamics.

Take a moment to think before you hit reply. What was the person you are addressing goal? And what is yours? How would you want to be treated if you were where they are? How would you treat people you wanted to meet and get to know? It’s YOUR community and how all of you act, current members and new folks who are trying to join, you are all what shapes it. That is the truth behind any social system. Including big web fetish communities.

As always, thank you for listening.
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    Great blog! I've been a member for years but haven't really been all that active,well, posting-wise, until pretty recently. But yep, over the years I've witnessed a lot of "stuff," some bad but mostly good as I really believe the majority of the people here are good people. As for the recent drama that I have seen, I do have a tendency to ignore a lot of it, esp. if it has nothing to do with the original issue at hand. I do see points of view from all angles and it would be nice if some folks could open up to the fact that not everyone is going to agree. Hell, we're human beings (well, most of us anyways lol). But it's how the disagreement posts seem to be said only to "one up" the last one or to try and hurt someone.....something I've just never been for. I really do believe that the TMF is what you make of it and if someone really irks you or bugs you that much, ignore them. There's far more important (and fun) things happening around the TMF.

    Anyhoo, have a great day and thanks for posting that!
    I'm with you on this. There seems to be two, big, different schools of thought about personal expression. Some feel that having a "verbal filter" to alter what one says is actually dishonest, or holding back, if you will. These people feel that raw, honest expression is "true" expression. In many cases, this is true, but like a diamond in the rough, it can often use polishing and shaping to make it REALLY pop! I know about honest, truthful writing, but I understand the importance of courteous communication, and I agree with you that people should take some time to think about what they're about to say before the word vomit flows forth. Raw communication may be honest, but unrefined word choice results in miscommunication, sometimes to the point that the original message is lost to someone taking offense. Then the truth becomes twisted, because it was not refined.

    Part of me wants to say that people are in such a rush to speak to get their point across, that they forget that others have to be able to comprehend their point to "get" it (the one-upping, referenced by Angel77.). Of course, I take a methodical approach to just about everything in life, and I'm learning everyday how short life is, and I worry I'm getting lost in the fray thinking about doing things the right way, while others are acting, making things happen, for good or nil. I guess it all goes back to balance-- in this case, balance of thought versus action.