Thursday, December 24, 2009

Forum Whores

Glowing world map on blue background (digitally generated)

You know her don't you? Perhaps she corners you at a cocktail party or maybe she shares your cubical at work. It begins innocently enough. She chats with you and perhaps you share a few laughs. In pretty quick order she violates many of the standard TMI boundaries. Before you know it you are looking for the nearest exit door so you can flee from her latest drama.

If you are like me, and tend to reach out to others its easy to find yourself sucked up into their troubled little world. Their conversations routinely involve criticizing others. In her own little universe she is Queen even as she confides in you how she is often the helpless hapless victim of others. There are frequent incidents in which like Kanye West, she launches into unwarranted incoherent outbursts centered around their personal trivial matters.

It seems I often attract people like this. No I suppose, it might be more accurate to say I tend to collect them. While some people seem to have the ability to shake such people lose pretty quickly, I tend to continue reaching out long past the time that most reasonable people will. I feel guilty because I often suspect, no scratch that, I know that I am the one person that they have in their life who will listen to them. Then again, maybe it's more accurate to say I have a little bit of rubber neck in me as I hear the train speeding down the track headed straight into the train coming in the opposite direction.

In the "real world" the Attention whore is the person who will call you in the middle of the night to hold the following conversation with you:

AW: "My world is over!"

You: "What's wrong? Are you OK?"

FW: "I just went through my boyfriend Bubba's wallet and found a woman's phone number in it."

You: "You went through his wallet?"

AW: "Of course I went through his wallet. We have been dating for two and a half weeks now and we have no secrets between the two of us."

You, as you glance over at the clock on your dresser noticing that it was 2 am and you have to be up in three hours.: "Well what did he say when you asked him about it?"

AW: "What did he say? What did he say" She says almost shrieking into the phone. "Of course he tried to deny the whole thing. He said that he didn't know how long that number had been in his phone. Well that's when I informed him that I went through his cellphone."

You: "You went through his cell phone? Well what did he say about that?"

AW: "He must have known I was going to go through his phone because I didn't see any suspicious numbers in there."

You "So you are angry because you don't have proof that he called this woman?"

AW: "Damn straight! He probably just met that little whore. I could only take so much of his denials. Then he yelled and screamed at me. Called me a nosy bitch. I asked him what his status on MysSpace was and he went ballistic. I'm sure it's because he's hiding something. I'm on the computer right now, nope he hasn't changed his status yet but I now know why he never gave me his MySpace password. As soon as I get off this phone I'm going to call him. I am going to demand that he come clean."

You, as you listen to her sob desperately into the phone, "Well look, it's almost three in the morning and I really don't think it's a good idea to call this guy at three in the morning."

AW as she slams the phone closed: "So you're on his fucking side."

Now Attention Whores have gone virtual and because they seem to wrack up the forum posts I call them Forum Whores.

On every forum, no matter what the subject matter, I always seem to encounter some sort of Forum Whore. What first brings them to my attention is when others on a forum begin to attack her.

At first I feel for her because I don't always know her history. I see others being harsh with her and some even treating her contemptuously. I don't get involved, not at first. I remind myself that I don't know the whole story but at the same time I am worried about the almost pack mentality that begins to erupt.

Sometimes the Forum Whore has a little group of loyal followers but eventually she begins to lose them one by one. Sometimes because she gets angry with them for not defending her forcefully enough and sometimes because they tire of the histrionics.

This is the person who reminds me of that old Vaudeville joke in which a man said he went to the doctor because every time he does a certain thing and the doctor tells him "Stop doing that then." The problem is the Forum Whore seems unable to take such basic advise.

The Forum Whore demands your attention but claims she was never looking for the unwanted attention.

I decided to write this post after a recent incident on online-sweepstakes. I've been so busy being involved with my blog, school, moving, etc. that I haven't been too involved in the forums.

I stumbled upon a post of a young woman who was angry about how her boyfriend was being treated during his probationary period at work. She was beside herself with moral outrage that her boyfriend was counseled by his boss because he was late to work twice during his probationary period at his new job. Oh and did I mention that he wasn't late by just a couple of minutes, he was late by an hour or more each time? She was also upset because he was given a list of other things that he needed to do in order to keep his job, including but not limited to: not taking an hour off for lunch, wearing appropriate attire for work, and telling his boss that he was taking some heavy duty medications that make it difficult for him to wake up in the morning making it difficult to always come to work when he was scheduled to do so. Keep in mind this guy is new to the job and is on probation there.

Some 30 or more pages were used in the forum to address past posts of hers that included how she wanted to "trick" her boyfriend into getting her pregnant, how she was collecting welfare benefits and not informing her caseworker of under the table income she was earning or the fact that her live-in boyfriend was making $50,000.

This Forum Whore couldn't seem to get past the fact that there are people who are really hurting right now. There are people who would love to have a job and that there are people who resent her collecting benefits fraudulently.

All the while she seemed confused as to why people were attacking her. On this particular thread she personally addressed each and every person who attacked her. I was being sucked down the rabbit hole as I read the posts. At one point I decided to join in but not because I wanted to pile on but because I wanted to have a Susan Powter moment yelling "Stop the Insanity."

Someone had just attacked her about the fact that she had said that they had no food in the house and that she won a $250 Visa gift card. Instead of using it to buy food she was using it to buy a ring for her boyfriend for Christmas.

Now wait a minute, you have no food in your house but you have money to buy your boyfriend a ring? Each and every day I wind up feeding at least four kids at school. They come to school without having had anything to eat so I know how this effects a child. I tried to find the nicest way possible that her child should be the most important thing in her life. Not some boyfriend and not some ring. This of course got her upset because she wanted me to know that her child wasn't starving because there was "poor people food" in the house and it had been three weeks since she had gone out to eat.

This was not the story she originally had. She claimed no food whatsoever now she had "poor people food." Oh and the not eating out thing? Turns out on her blog she just recently took a friend out to eat at her local Olive Garden. Of course she did what most forum whores do, she attacked me for "attacking her." Eventually this thread, like many of her others were pulled.

It's obvious that a forum whore is starving for attention in real life. All the attention she garners, good and bad compensate for her shortcomings. Every post says "Look at me! Look at me! I am important!"

You swear to yourself that you will ignore her future posts. You hope that she eventually gets banned. In the end it seems that the Forum Whore eventually tires of her current stomping grounds and finally follows through with her threats of leaving for brighter pastures.

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