Earlier this year, I decided to make the difficult decision to turn my back on online guitar and music communities. I had been participating in various forums for many years, indeed even racking up nearly 10,000 posts at one of them.
I used to enjoy the camaraderie and sharing of knowledge that went with those forums in the early days, but over time things devolved and changed.
I am sure we have all seen it, on various internet communities. The trolls start to emerge. Discussions turn into sniping and personal insults. Everyone seems to become outraged at the tiniest misinterpretation of something. People judge without knowing.
It all started to get too much. I initially pushed back at the negativity, and attempted to either defend or explain my point of view - but alas, the waves of constant hostility just began to wear me down.
"Relax" others would tell me. "It is just the internet. People do things there that they would never do in real life or to your face. Just grow a thicker skin and stop being so sensitive."
Well, I was raised to believe that character is defined by what you do when nobody is looking. I sincerely believe that someone who acts in a hostile or mean fashion behind the anonymity of a screen name has character flaws that I would not find attractive in real life either.
As for the second part about growing a thicker skin, well... as a musician, I believe that my sensitivity is actually an asset towards me creativity. If I was to lose or suppress that, then I would lose a part of myself that makes music a joy to my soul.
So I have decided to take a sabbatical from online forums for a long while. Who know, as with most communities, their nature is to evolve and change over time, and perhaps one day, they will organically weed out the energy sucking trolls and begin to celebrate those members that share knowledge and try to advance humankind again.
Then, I will rejoin the fray with gusto.