Forum Life Lessons: Questioning the TOL Experience

Town Heretic

Out of Order
Hall of Fame
So, 10 questions for people about their TOL experience. I'm going to create an index of posters/answers using the second post and move my answers to the latest post. :cheers:


1. When you first arrived how much experience did you have with internet forums and were you surprised by what you encountered?

2. Is the person you appear to be an exaggeration of who you actually are, who you actually are, or is it unlike who you are in the real world?

3. If you could change one thing about the way things are here what would it be?

4. Is there a rule you'd like to add to the TOL list?

5. Have you changed ideologically or personally since you first arrived and if so did TOL play a role in that change?

If yes, then how dramatic or slight was the change?

If no, has TOL given you a wider appreciation of different perspectives, or do you hold the same opinions about them?

6. What was your primary reason for deciding to stick around here for a while?

7. Do you believe that anonymity has an overall liberating and/or negative effect on posters and posts here?

8. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of religion?

9. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of atheists?

10. Are you more or less emphatic in your beliefs of in any particular belief you came to TOL with as a direct result of your time here?
 
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Town Heretic

Out of Order
Hall of Fame
In the meantime...I remember when I first arrived there were so many different voices here just about any topic would find a trove of people wrestling. Some early favorites of mine were people like Memento Mori, aka MoMo. It's Latin for "Remember death." He was a great kid and good for the site.

:think:

Here's a little of MoMo then, while we wait. File it under reasons why I miss the guy around here...

My perfect society would not have any government and everyone would be rich and never want for anything. We would ride around on flying unicorns and eat Chipotle and candy all day. Everyone would have a mansion designed to their specifications and we would trade mansions to keep things interesting. That way people could stay at the pool mansion and go swimming or the big screen mansion and watch tv and movies all day. The people would work hard to make everyone else happy and be happy themselves. Finally gas would cost 99¢ and there would be a dollar sale on gas everyday (i.e. we give you a penny for every gallon you get).

A man can dream... ♫
In fairness on his adding Chipotle into it this was long before the e coli scares and had he known I'm sure MoMo would have added a personal gastroenterologist to the list of household necessaries.



I find NASCAR to be exemplary at demonstrating the truths of life. If you have a question which is difficult to solve simply tell yourself "Go fast then turn left."


What's a good question to ask you?


One thing Dr. Krauss has said which has stuck with me is "Our universe is mathematically beautiful." That always strikes me in an odd way and makes me want to understand.


Godless cosmology? You never know. They might just find the face of God in their mapping.


Yeah but you also believe fish turned into people. :idunno:
And you believe people came from dirt. :idunno:
So he wasn't an easy fellow to dismiss and he kept his wits about him.

He was an interesting poster. Sorry a number of you didn't get the chance to cross his path.
 

annabenedetti

Well-known member
1. When you first arrived how much experience did you have with internet forums and were you surprised by what you encountered?

I found my first forum in 2002 by following a link from Drudge, so TOL wasn't a surprise in the way of general forum experience. What was surprising was TOL was the first forum I'd been on that had active moderate-to-liberal posters who provided a counterpoint to the exclusively and unopposed conservative ideas and information I'd been accustomed to getting elsewhere. It was like a whole new world that I literally didn't know existed.​

2. Is the person you appear to be an exaggeration of who you actually are, who you actually are, or is it unlike who you are in the real world?

Personality-wise, for the good and the bad, who I am here is truly who I am inside - whether or not in real life it would be readily evident on the outside. One caveat to that is that I don't share much in real life these days (and what I share is partitioned) of the ways my political and social world views have evolved, because many of them wouldn't be acceptable in the real-life circles I move in.​

3. If you could change one thing about the way things are here what would it be?

I might have cared once. I don't anymore.​

4. Is there a rule you'd like to add to the TOL list?

See above.​

5. Have you changed ideologically or personally since you first arrived and if so did TOL play a role in that change?

Ideologically? Absolutely.

Personally? Less trusting. More wary.

And yes, TOL did play a role in both.​

If yes, then how dramatic or slight was the change?

Life-changing.​

7. Do you believe that anonymity has an overall liberating and/or negative effect on posters and posts here?

Anonymity has its own sort of autonomy, and that's worth something. People are going to be nasty or they're not, and seeing the comments of people who use their real names on Twitter and comment sections everywhere they use FaceBook to sign in - I don't think they care if they're known or not. Sign of the times.​

8. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of religion?

Less.​

9. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of atheists?

In question #8 you said "religion," and in question #9 you said "atheists," so you're setting an evaluation of a belief system side by side with an evaluation of individuals. If I were to answer to "atheists," I'd say the ones I've encountered on TOL are intelligent and civil. But to maintain continuity with your previous question, I'll say I have a neutral impression of atheism.​

10. Are you more or less emphatic in your beliefs of in any particular belief you came to TOL with as a direct result of your time here?

About the same internally. It's the beliefs which have changed, not the amount of thought I put into them. Externally... mostly these days I'm not transferring those thoughts to paper or screen. I used to write a lot, it was a way to process my thinking. Not so much these days. What's the point? It's meaningless.​
 

Rusha

LIFETIME MEMBER
LIFETIME MEMBER
Hall of Fame
1. When you first arrived how much experience did you have with internet forums and were you surprised by what you encountered?

Quite a lot on forums such as Y and MSN groups. Very little on discussion boards. Due to my dealings on group forums, I was not surprised in the least.

2. Is the person you appear to be an exaggeration of who you actually are, who you actually are, or is it unlike who you are in the real world?

The only difference is that I am toned down in a manner that is beneficial to myself.

3. If you could change one thing about the way things are here what would it be?

Equal enforcement of the rules.

4. Is there a rule you'd like to add to the TOL list?

See above ... and ... perma-ban on individuals who rejoin under new aliases due to skirting their bans via multiple usernames.

5. Have you changed ideologically or personally since you first arrived and if so did TOL play a role in that change?

I have more compassion and understanding towards others than when I previously joined.

If yes, then how dramatic or slight was the change?

Quite a lot.

If no, has TOL given you a wider appreciation of different perspectives, or do you hold the same opinions about them?

I have changed my perspective on a few issues.

6. What was your primary reason for deciding to stick around here for a while?

Intelligent debate regardless of disagreement and forum friends.

7. Do you believe that anonymity has an overall liberating and/or negative effect on posters and posts here?

Yes ... there tends to be more bravado due to anonymity.

8. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of religion?

Less favorable.

9. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of atheists?

More favorable.

10. Are you more or less emphatic in your beliefs of in any particular belief you came to TOL with as a direct result of your time here?


Yes ... both. I have a deeper understanding and empathy of those dealing with religious,racial and gender issues/bias. I have less tolerance for the persecutors.
 

Town Heretic

Out of Order
Hall of Fame
9. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of atheists?

In question #8 you said "religion," and in question #9 you said "atheists," so you're setting an evaluation of a belief system side by side with an evaluation of individuals. If I were to answer to "atheists," I'd say the ones I've encountered on TOL are intelligent and civil. But to maintain continuity with your previous question, I'll say I have a neutral impression of atheism.​


:thumb: I think religion is much more of a piece than atheism, especially to atheists. That's what accounts for the distinction. I recall when I travelled in those circles for years it was frequently a bit like a turn on Faulkner's southern racist, who hated the race but frequently loved the individual. That struck me as the general tone among people like me at the time who simply found the idea of God a misplaced bit of wishful thinking.

On the other hand, I was curious about how people who came here with a particular religious perspective responded to seeing other perspectives rooted in other faiths and methodological approaches in relation to their larger view. I wondered if the intimacy would widen their lens. So I thought it would be better to speak to both in different frames of reference. Thanks for responding thoughtfully.

You too, Rusha. :)
 

eider

Well-known member
1. When you first arrived how much experience did you have with internet forums and were you surprised by what you encountered?
Yes...... very.

2. Is the person you appear to be an exaggeration of who you actually are, who you actually are, or is it unlike who you are in the real world?
Hmmmm...... it's me alright, but adapted in an attempt at survival on such a forum as this.

3. If you could change one thing about the way things are here what would it be?
Ah..... if I could change the World! :)
I cannot change anything...... it is what it is. I needed to change myself in order to survive here a little longer.

4. Is there a rule you'd like to add to the TOL list?
No....... that's like asking me if I would like to add a new rule to the peregrine's hunting technique. :)

5. Have you changed ideologically or personally since you first arrived and if so did TOL play a role in that change?
Yes....... I have become more efficient at debating Christians but I don't debate Christianity on TOL.

6. What was your primary reason for deciding to stick around here for a while?
To learn more......

7. Do you believe that anonymity has an overall liberating and/or negative effect on posters and posts here?
Neither....... we are our avatars as well as our life names, but TOL's culture seems to have a negative affect on the free expression of many who come here...... many don't last an afternoon! :D

8. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of religion?
I didn't know that Christianity could produce some of the folks I read here.

9. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of atheists?
TOL has not made any difference to my impressions about atheists, but since I am a Deist that's not surprising, I guess.

10. Are you more or less emphatic in your beliefs of in any particular belief you came to TOL with as a direct result of your time here?
I've had to take more notice of the bible, but my Deism is stronger.... but that is as a result of being on a few forums.


Many life-lessons are remembered as a result of scrapes and shocks, and one can learn lots of life-lessons here. :)
 

Arthur Brain

Well-known member
1. When you first arrived how much experience did you have with internet forums and were you surprised by what you encountered?

Some experience and yes, especially with some of the 'rabidly' zealous types.

2. Is the person you appear to be an exaggeration of who you actually are, who you actually are, or is it unlike who you are in the real world?

Pretty much me, for better or worse...

3. If you could change one thing about the way things are here what would it be?

The same as Rusha on this one really.

4. Is there a rule you'd like to add to the TOL list?

No "tweeting" allowed...

5. Have you changed ideologically or personally since you first arrived and if so did TOL play a role in that change?

If yes, then how dramatic or slight was the change?

If no, has TOL given you a wider appreciation of different perspectives, or do you hold the same opinions about them?

Not really. It's been an education in some areas, for example it was my first introduction to zealous fundamentalism although I'd hardly say I appreciate extremist perspectives. In some cases they're practically an argument for the separation of church and state in themselves...

6. What was your primary reason for deciding to stick around here for a while?

Despite there being an obvious bias in play, there was still plenty of room for passionate debate that other forums would shut down at the merest hint of disagreement. It had a good mix of people and many that are sorely missed nowadays.

7. Do you believe that anonymity has an overall liberating and/or negative effect on posters and posts here?

Personally, neither.

8. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of religion?

In regards to religion then definitely less, although that's a separate issue than belief. Essentially, it's reinforced my already negative opinions about fundamentalism and unthinking belief systems.

9. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of atheists?

Well, I've often found myself identifying with many atheists here, particularly where it comes to science and fundamentalism if not where it comes to atheism itself. Then again I've rarely had negative experiences with atheists so it's not really had a significant impact one way or the other.

10. Are you more or less emphatic in your beliefs of in any particular belief you came to TOL with as a direct result of your time here?

In some areas, just as emphatic, in other areas not so much.
 

Town Heretic

Out of Order
Hall of Fame
No "tweeting" allowed...
:chuckle: The ignore feature will take care of that on a personal level, at least.

Despite there being an obvious bias in play, there was still plenty of room for passionate debate that other forums would shut down at the merest hint of disagreement. It had a good mix of people and many that are sorely missed nowadays.
Though in fairness there are a number of sore people in the mix...so that's something. :think:

:cheers:


No....... that's like asking me if I would like to add a new rule to the peregrine's hunting technique. :)
:chuckle:

To learn more......
Now that's about as good a reason as I can think of for most things. :thumb:

I didn't know that Christianity could produce some of the folks I read here.
It doesn't. ;)

Thanks for the contribution. :e4e:
 

Town Heretic

Out of Order
Hall of Fame
Decided to use the second post as an index, meaning I needed a new home for my answers to the questions.

Here's my own stab.


1. When you first arrived how much experience did you have with internet forums and were you surprised by what you encountered?

I had no understanding of forum life. I used the internet for research. One day I stumbled across TOL and found a thriving community with an uneven playing field that promoted a clever and vigorous opposition. I was hooked before I knew it.

2. Is the person you appear to be an exaggeration of who you actually are, who you actually are, or is it unlike who you are in the real world?

It's just me. It took a while before I realized people did that and I still don't really understand the utility in it. A version of dress up? :idunno:

3. If you could change one thing about the way things are here what would it be?

I'd have an infraction by committee oversight and appeal, probably fewer rules. Nothing major.

4. Is there a rule you'd like to add to the TOL list?

Maybe I'd go back and mandate the one week out of the year when you could only say good things to and about people. That was a rare and wonderful thing. :)

5. Have you changed ideologically or personally since you first arrived and if so did TOL play a role in that change?

Yes. I'm more conservative, though only slightly. And I'm less tolerant of extremist opinion.

If yes, then how dramatic or slight was the change?

Supra.

6. What was your primary reason for deciding to stick around here for a while?

AB bought a subscription for me and I thought, if this place can produce or act as a haven for people who will act that kindly it has to be worth sticking around and getting to know better.

7. Do you believe that anonymity has an overall liberating and/or negative effect on posters and posts here?

Both. I suspect we'd behave ourselves better if we weren't protected by the wall of that, but part of me is afraid that wouldn't necessarily be so and understands how that necessitates the anonymity. I mean, I had a poster here blow up a photo of my S. Ct. cert. to see the year.

8. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of religion?

A largely less favorable impression of how some use it. I hadn't run into that before on a personal level. I was an atheist for a long time and comfortable with the faithful, who in my neck of the woods were solid citizens doing a lot of good work. Why they did it mattered less to me than that they did it.

9. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of atheists?

About the same, since I dwelled there for a very long time.

10. Are you more or less emphatic in your beliefs of in any particular belief you came to TOL with as a direct result of your time here?

I'm much more settled as a Christian in particulars than I was when I got here. And I've altered and sharpened my political beliefs as well. On the whole it has been more about clarifying and firming than a revolutionary change, though there have been a couple on the religious front that were profound.
 

CabinetMaker

Member of the 10 year club on TOL!!
Hall of Fame
1. When you first arrived how much experience did you have with internet forums and were you surprised by what you encountered? I had zero experience with forums. I was very surprised at what I encountered and I was NOT well received when I first arrived.

2. Is the person you appear to be an exaggeration of who you actually are, who you actually are, or is it unlike who you are in the real world? Largely the same. Maybe a bit less polite than I am face to face.

3. If you could change one thing about the way things are here what would it be? I can't change peoples hearts.

4. Is there a rule you'd like to add to the TOL list? Nothing comes to mind.

5. Have you changed ideologically or personally since you first arrived and if so did TOL play a role in that change?

If yes, then how dramatic or slight was the change?

If no, has TOL given you a wider appreciation of different perspectives, or do you hold the same opinions about them?
I changed my opinion regarding the death penalty after a discussion with Knight and Turbo, I am now in favor of the death penalty.

6. What was your primary reason for deciding to stick around here for a while? I found I enjoyed the lively discussion on many different topics. I feel that it has sharpened my debate skills. The down side is that from time to time I have to take a break. I find that sometimes I get very angry and that start to spills into the real world just a bit and that's when i know I need to take a short.

7. Do you believe that anonymity has an overall liberating and/or negative effect on posters and posts here? I think slightly negative.

8. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of religion? Far far less favorable impression of religion.

9. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of atheists? I have come to learn that there are atheists and anti-theists. I have less respect for anti-theists.

10. Are you more or less emphatic in your beliefs of in any particular belief you came to TOL with as a direct result of your time here? Probably more emphatic. I will stand up for them more forcefully though I try hard not to be insulting to those who disagree. Not always successful.
 

Ask Mr. Religion

☞☞☞☞Presbyterian (PCA) &#9
Gold Subscriber
LIFETIME MEMBER
Hall of Fame
TOL Experiences - AMR

TOL Experiences - AMR

1. When you first arrived how much experience did you have with internet forums and were you surprised by what you encountered?

I had plenty of internet forum discussion experience, including the wilder days of USENET. My surprises were mainly in the finding of a large number of open theists in one place, as the topic was one of my theological interest areas.

2. Is the person you appear to be an exaggeration of who you actually are, who you actually are, or is it unlike who you are in the real world?
I am quite the same in person as I appear to be in print, excluding the literal and liberal use of hyperlinks, of course. Then again, I regularly remind persons face-to-face of what I have had to say previously about this or that, hence, the verbal equivalent of "see here". ;) In general, I pay attention to people I speak with in person or communicate with in writing. I do not think it is asking much to expect the same courtesy in my direction. :AMR:

3. If you could change one thing about the way things are here what would it be?

More attention to stale and well-worn topics that should be closed by the mod team, thus forcing new threads to be started. The very act of creating a new thread should give one pause in raising up the same old topic once again. The place seems to be struggling with creating fresh material and those that continue to rehash the same basic topics have been given much more rope than I would ever give them if it were in my power. This long-suffering extended to not a few squatters has directly lead to the decline in the vibrancy—versus the present acedia—this site exhibited five years or so past.

4. Is there a rule you'd like to add to the TOL list?

See here. ;)

5. Have you changed ideologically or personally since you first arrived and if so did TOL play a role in that change?
If yes, then how dramatic or slight was the change?
If no, has TOL given you a wider appreciation of different perspectives, or do you hold the same opinions about them?

Yes, quite so. Personally, I think I have become less strident than I was upon my arrival. I also am certain some of my ideologies have been tempered and also some made less restrictive. On the personal side, there was a time when my use of "brother" or "sister" was quite stingy in my communications. I have seen the error of my ways with the passage of time, study, interaction, and prayer.

6. What was your primary reason for deciding to stick around here for a while?

Primarily it was for deeper study of the various belief systems in evidence. Accompanying that was also the arrival of some members that I found edifying. A discussion site is only as good as its participants. A discussion site owner, like myself, realizes that they should be cultivated in order to tether them to the site such that they help its culture expand and improve the user experience.

7. Do you believe that anonymity has an overall liberating and/or negative effect on posters and posts here?

I think it has a negative effect. Too many are emboldened by anonymity, often unhinging themselves and others that take their bait. For a Christian this should not be the case, for all that we think, do, or say should be for the glory of God.

8. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of religion?

I have no illusions that TOL is a representative sample of Christianity at large. Rather TOL is but a microcosm of like-minded sorts divided into their own camps. The echo chamber effect is widely evident. That said, orthodox Christianity can be found here and there within TOL, and for one interested in sampling religious views outside the orthodox Christian view, TOL is a good venue.

9. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of atheists?

My exposure here has not modified my views of non-believers. They hate God with every breath they take. Sadly, they just do not know it to be the fact of the matter.

10. Are you more or less emphatic in your beliefs of in any particular belief you came to TOL with as a direct result of your time here?

Most assuredly so. I remain emphatic about the essentials of the faith, such as the Trinity and the Five Solas. I have grown a wee bit less emphatic about various secondary or tertiary matters of doctrine.

AMR
 

annabenedetti

Well-known member


:thumb: I think religion is much more of a piece than atheism, especially to atheists. That's what accounts for the distinction. I recall when I travelled in those circles for years it was frequently a bit like a turn on Faulkner's southern racist, who hated the race but frequently loved the individual. That struck me as the general tone among people like me at the time who simply found the idea of God a misplaced bit of wishful thinking.

On the other hand, I was curious about how people who came here with a particular religious perspective responded to seeing other perspectives rooted in other faiths and methodological approaches in relation to their larger view. I wondered if the intimacy would widen their lens. So I thought it would be better to speak to both in different frames of reference. Thanks for responding thoughtfully.


I don't agree, for the reason I gave. What you're saying here reads somewhat like a retroactive rationalization for an inadvertent apples-to-oranges comparison, because the two questions are identical except for the last word.

It's a good thread idea, though. I've enjoyed reading the various responses. :)
 

fool

Well-known member
Hall of Fame
1. When you first arrived how much experience did you have with internet forums and were you surprised by what you encountered?
First time joining one was TOL, I lurked here for a year before signing up.

2. Is the person you appear to be an exaggeration of who you actually are, who you actually are, or is it unlike who you are in the real world?
I'm actually funny in real life. I am also known as being someone who walks into a room and asks why there's an elephant standing in the corner.

3. If you could change one thing about the way things are here what would it be?
Limit new threads to one per day per user.

4. Is there a rule you'd like to add to the TOL list?
No microwaving fish in the break room.

5. Have you changed ideologically or personally since you first arrived and if so did TOL play a role in that change?
Yes, No.

If yes, then how dramatic or slight was the change?
I used to be pro choice. Now I'm not. Is that slight or dramatic?

If no, has TOL given you a wider appreciation of different perspectives, or do you hold the same opinions about them?
Everyone is right about something.

6. What was your primary reason for deciding to stick around here for a while?
I like arguing with people about stuff.

7. Do you believe that anonymity has an overall liberating and/or negative effect on posters and posts here?
Anonymity is key. I don't go around advertising my Atheism normally.

8. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of religion?
Less.

9. Has your exposure to the views found here contributed to your having a more/less favorable impression of atheists?
Less.
10. Are you more or less emphatic in your beliefs of in any particular belief you came to TOL with as a direct result of your time here?
Atheism is the lack of belief, I'm not sure emphatic is something you can apply to lack of something.
 

Tambora

Get your armor ready!
LIFETIME MEMBER
Hall of Fame
I have loved TOL!
TOL was one of the first places I joined and it's been the only one to survive all these years.

Not only have I enjoyed all the bible studying, but have learned other things for everyday life as well.
The members here have been very helpful in both areas.
Have had several here that have helped me figure out how to do repairs around the house which saved me a lot of money on top of learning how to do it for future fixes.

Thanks everyone!
 

Town Heretic

Out of Order
Hall of Fame
What you're saying here reads somewhat like a retroactive rationalization for an inadvertent apples-to-oranges comparison
And yet it wasn't. :plain: :eek:

because the two questions are identical except for the last word.
That we agree on, at any rate. ;)

It's a good thread idea, though. I've enjoyed reading the various responses. :)
Two of three. Not bad. Same here. :cheers:
 

Arthur Brain

Well-known member
My exposure here has not modified my views of non-believers. They hate God with every breath they take. Sadly, they just do not know it to be the fact of the matter.

Not to derail the thread too much but this is such an oxymoronic statement (not just espoused by you to be fair) that it needs to be addressed. If you hate something or someone then that involves passion, just as it does with its counterpart love. There are no illusions on the matter and you can't "not know" you're hating along with the reasons that prompt such a reaction, just the same as when you fall in love with or love someone. To say that atheists "hate God with every breath they take and don't know it to be fact" is simply nonsense. I'm presuming you're applying this to agnostics etc as well? The lack of belief in a deity isn't synonymous with hate. Atheists don't believer in a deity or the likelihood of one existing to hate.
 
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