Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Warning - Approach With Caution !

Once again I succumbed to ‘optimism over experience’ and I really should have learnt my lesson by now. I have just wasted two days of my life, and can’t afford to do this at my age!About on a 6-monthly cycle, I start to notice a guilty niggle at the back of my mind. Having moved from the UK and settled here in France, I am aware that there are many people considering or just embarking on the same life-changing experience. Both would love to get help, ask questions and generally seek details of what it was like for other Expats and those attempting to make money by renting out property here.

I am of course talking about Help Forums on the Internet.

Two days was enough for me though – then I gave up again. I do not think I have been so angry and disbelieving in a very long time….in fact since the last time I made the effort to contribute to a Help Forum!!

Looked innocent enough – a lady was asking how other parents got on bringing teenagers to France and the time it took them to pick up the language.

OK, I think I can do that. I told them how our two girls managed. What a mistake!!! What a furore I caused! Did you know:

1. I am a smug parent who lives in a dream world in no way bearing any relation to real life.

2. I am just spouting the usual preconceived misconceptions of the British about the non-existent utopia of living in France – a crime-infested , delinquency ridden society (from an Expat living in Brittany?! Not sure which part though....).

3. Forcing children to live in the drug infested countryside makes me cruel and Victorian, allowing the religious narrow-minded locals to stifle their creativity.

4. I was told that all children should be compulsory drug-tested everytime they go out of the house and on their return.

5. It seems how well your children turn out is totally the luck of the draw and NOT related in any way to your ability as a parent.

6. Etc, etc.

Responses to my post came from members such as:
- Drug-Fixated-of-America,
- Proof-That-Aggression-Therapy-Does-Not-Work,
- Know-It-All,
- And also a few genuine conscientious members of the Forum who tried to stem the stream of drivel, tosh and rudeness unsuccessfully.

What have I learned (just like last time, I have to admit):

1. A Forum is only as good as the Administrator/Moderator – who needs to be a hard-nosed tough cookie. The girls immediately wanted to nominated me!
This one informed us that he deliberately was not moderating this specific thread because it was a reasoned discussion and too many other Forums were too polite.

2. Too often, a Forum ends up with a core group of weirdoes who always seem to highjack discussion threads.

3. Some members use the Forums as a means of expelling their aggression and bullying tendencies.

4. There is always at least one Know-It-All who thinks his opinion is all that matters and whose experiences in his little piece of the world is what happens everywhere. So many of the threads in this Forum degenerated because of this and similar members into – him saying no that did not happen to you, yes it did, no it didn’t, I tell you yes it did!

5. Members really need to learn to differentiate between someone expressing an opinion (which they can disagree with and can generate a good discussion thread) and someone recounting what actually happened to them and their family (to which another person CANNOT respond by stating this did NOT occur!).

As you have probably gathered – I did not take kindly to being told I was lying through my teeth when I described our actual experiences here – and made it very plain! To then find the Administrator posting that he was sorry I was upset but that this Forum encourages such good lively debates…….

Upset?! I was bloody furious that I had wasted two days on this!

The final straw came when I noticed that some of the earlier controversial posts had been discretely edited by the author(s) so as to seem less confrontational – thus making the later posts suddenly appear over reacting! And that it had happened before according to a 'normal' and very nice member.

My final post? What a load of tosh and drivel – Goodbye!

I know there are some very good Forums out there – and I would be happy to hear from readers with recommendations. I am sure it would help the rest of us stop wasting our precious days on the others!

One brilliant thing did come out of it. It was an excellent example to the girls of the care you must take when deciding to ‘converse’ on the web, the type of weirdoes out there and how easy it is to get latched onto by them. They had been very interested when I originally posted about their experiences and very gobsmacked/appalled when they saw the tone of the following responses. Foolishly I had added our blog address to one or two of my posts before I realised what some of the members were like (the girls were quick to point out that I had not followed the advice I had drummed into them!) and ended up sitting at the PC all night working out how to delete it as quickly as possible!


Gogus said...

Unfortunatly because the internet is such a powerful comminication tool it is open to extreme opinions, which have no other outlet because they are in the minority. But because they feel the need to and can destroy any open discussion with there narrow minded blinkered veiw they cause forum to close. I have experienced this with 2 forums i have followed which have been attacked by negative blogs.

Lesley said...

Not sure what to 'approach with caution' - the forum or you?!

Good for you for trying to get it sorted, but maybe it is best left alone - until next time.

The apartment is looking lovely. Well done!

Jacqui U said...

It makes me so angry when the few ruin it for the others, but I get even more angry that it is let happen - my Administrators of such Forums but also by the other Members.

I had several nice e-mails to my private area on this Forum from members expressing the same views as me - but why don't they bother to 'speak up' on the Forum to this effect?!

Anyway.....mustn't get strated again with the ranting.....


Definitely me to be avoided when I am this pissed-off!!

I have had every trace of me either removed or edited ie my name disguised - bet they were tempted to choose something 'special'!


Mr Happy said...

Quite agree, and am sorry for your experience. I too have offered "help" at various times, only to ask later, "what was I thinking?!"

Regardless - have a beautiful pleasant day knowing that there are many more sane and balanced people out there; we're just quieter than the others!


Jacqui U said...

I like that - we are the sane and balanced ones.

But I wonder what all those others call us?!

Keep happy!!