If I Don't Stir the Pot, the Stew Will Burn!

So I'm sitting here late on a Sunday afternoon nursing a nasty sunburn after my annual trip to the local antique farm equipment show yesterday, with one of my dogs sleeping at my feet, trying to catch up with the BeautyTech message boards. It's a losing battle — I haven't had a chance to visit daily for the last two weeks.


If you're not familiar with the BeautyTech message boards or mailing list, by all means, you should go check them out. Essentially, it's a forum for professionals in the nail industry to network with one another, share information about products and techniques, tell tales about their day, give advice, and, often, argue with one another.


I enjoy the arguing. I like to "stir the pot" so to speak and I fully subscribe to the philosophy that not only would life be boring if everyone agreed all the time, but that it would also lead to stagnation and no one would really learn anything, least of all how to take criticism.


First off, in today's message board reading it has occurred to me that I often see people refer to "lurkers" that are afraid to post to a forum for fear of being flamed — or just plain disagreed with, since most forum arguments are actually quite civil debates and not all out flame wars. (Mostly, the webmistress at BT carries a very large bat and doesn't put up with much squabbling.)


Anyone familiar with the Internet knows this is not peculiar to forums for nail techs. This is common in all Internet forums.


And I just have to say, "Get over it."


I'm telling ya, I cannot roll my eyes hard enough at these posts. What’s with all this cry-babying about being afraid to speak up for yourself because someone might flat out disagree with you? Or maybe even go so far as to tell you you're wrong? Even if it's just their opinion? Is your self-esteem really so fragile? Especially since we're talking about an Internet forum. These phantom bullies you’re so paranoid about are not actually going to pull your hair, or steal your lunch money, or use your cuticle nippers to cut wire with just because you dared to speak up. First off, they aren't actually there. They can not physically beat you up no matter how heated the debate might get. So relax, you don't have to run and hide; all you have to do is stop reading.


Secondly, just because someone has the gall to articulate her opinion does not warrant a whinge-fest. It does not mean she is yelling at you. Or attacking you. Or being mean. Or that she doesn’t like you. It is not a personal affront to you. No one is trying to offend you by saying, "Really? You like that product? I tried it and it didn't work for me."


Of course, there are plenty of forum members with enough gumption to put their keyboards where their mouths are and take the risk of going public with their thoughts and opinions.


Many times this leads to interesting and informative threads that most of us find helpful. Sometimes it leads to disagreements. Sometimes these disagreements get entertaining; sometimes they turn into mud-slinging contests. Sometimes they just get so off topic that even I throw up my hands and walk away.


Another thing, just because someone makes a personal observation about you does not mean they are picking a fight with you. In fact, umm, if several people make similar observations about the overall tone of your posts, maybe you should step back and contemplate that for a minute before you get all defensive about it.


As for all those people who are afraid to post to a forum, fine, then don't. I don't believe we should bubble-wrap our exchange of information in order to avoid the risk of offending anyone. Not in real life, and not in the nail biz. It's OK to be offended. Shake it off and go one with your life. You have no idea how often I get my feelings bruised on a daily basis, but you still see me stepping up to rant like a maniac, don't you?


And guess what? A few people even like me anyway.



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