A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to participated in a Mormonexpressions.com podcast about the history of online Mormon-related message boards. The podcast has been posted here. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to participate, but I’m going to post my thoughts anyway.
For the record, I started posting on alt.religion.mormon on listserv about 1995, six months or so after I discovered the Internet. I stayed there for a while and then lost interest around 1998 or so. I wasn’t all that involved in Mormon online discussions until 2000, when I started posting on the FAIR board, which evolved into the MAD board. In early 2005, I quit posting on MAD, and then in August of that year I had my crisis of faith during which I went from being a believing LDS high priest to an evil apostate in short order. A few months later I began posting again on the MAD board (and on exmormon.org), and by the end of the year I had sunk into a major depression and then had been banned from MAD. For whatever reason, I begged them to let me come back, and they did, though I was under severe restrictions. I discovered mormondiscussions.com, which satisfied my board needs after I was banned a second time from MAD.
Probably the most important thing I’ve learned on the boards is that the important thing is personality, not the topic of discussion. Most of the drama over the years has come from personality conflicts, not necessarily doctrinal or historical issues. As Jason and Chris mentioned in the podcast, the major events that led to new boards and realignments resulted from personality issues, the need for control, and the shame of being exposed for dishonesty. I think that’s why being banned from MAD hurt so deeply for so long. I felt like I was being rejected by a community I had thought I was a part of, and it took a while to let the anger and hurt go. These days, you couldn’t pay me to go back to the MAD board, and my posts to mormondiscussions are getting fewer and farther between.
Mention was made that the “More Good Foundation,” a program designed to generate a positive Internet presence for the LDS church, had acknowledged regularly monitoring over 15,000 “anti-Mormon web sites.” A few years ago I was getting regular hits on my blog from that foundation, as well as from its sponsoring organization (the LDS church), so I guess I was one of those anti-Mormon sites. I wonder what it says that I no longer get hits from them on my blog. I suppose that means I’m either not anti-Mormon enough or not significant enough a threat. I’m working on it, though.
John Larsen said something that really hit me in the podcast: we need to be better about doing positive things, instead of just sitting around bitching about Mormonism. I am trying to do that, and I appreciate the support I’ve received from a lot of people.