Once in a distant era known only by a few as “The 90s” I joined an archaic communications medium called a “BBS“. At the time, the Internet wasn’t available to me. Yes, I’m really that old. I mainly dug around through software download areas because software was hard to find at the time without buying it.
Let’s stop there just to say that I’m not talking about pirating software. I’m talking about Freeware/Shareware. Without the Internet, it was next to impossible to get.
One day, I happened upon a forum that was set aside purely for operating system wars. Brilliant idea on the part of the Admins to give people a place to yell at each other about OSs so they didn’t do it elsewhere. At the time, it was pretty much Mac vs. Windows/DOS.
I really enjoyed myself in there. I fought with people day in and day out, sometimes making 20 to 30 posts a day. I was there for years. Finally, around 2001 or 2002 I moved on. My full time job was making a a forty hour work week look like a luxury, and I also started dating my future wife during that time. We’ll just say that I had more interesting things on my plate.
More than a decade passes.
I realize this is a long introduction to my point, but bear with me.
I was digging through some old files on my computer when I ran across the settings file for the BBS I used to visit. Intrigued, I grabbed the software and fired it up. Amazingly enough, my account still worked! I navigated the old familiar menus and found myself back in the forum that had used up so much of my time.
Time had not been kind to this BBS. The Internet had stripped away most of the casual users and left it with only the hard core people. Those people were actually the same people that had been in there a decade earlier.
They were still there!
Well, some of them were.
The few people that remained were all Mac users. Every single one. They’d been sitting there for over 10 years not being challenged by anybody. Always getting a pat on the back for saying what ever they were saying because everybody always agreed with them.
Finally: The Stagnant Pool
In talking briefly to them in a couple of posts it became apparent that some ideas that were debatable had been accepted into the realm of fact simply because no one stated that it wasn’t. I’ve seen this kind of behavior elsewhere too, and not just in technology. I’ve seen it all over, from small towns to politics.
Maybe people do this because it’s more comfortable? I honestly don’t know. They surround themselves with people who agree with them and force out the people who don’t. They never have their ideas challenged, and I think they’re the worse for it. They live in their enclosed little pool where no new ideas get in, ever. It doesn’t take long before it becomes foul and rank.
It’s not wrong to hang out with people who agree with you, as long as that’s not all you do. People need to talk to people who disagree with them. Find out why. You may not ever come to an agreement, but you may on occasion decide your initial position was wrong. You may convince them that their’s was. The discussion may only solidify your position. I’m the first one to admit that I’m far from perfect. I’m wrong, and when I’m wrong people point it out. I’m glad that they do because I become better because of it. It’s something that should be worked for, and it’s absolutely not something to be afraid of.