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The Idiocy of Chat Conventions
© Copyright 2002 by Rowan Ste. Julian. All rights reserved.
Posted with the permission of the author.
Ahh, chat. The last refuge of the clueless. Only here can you find people who actually act as though they're entitled to deferential treatment simply because they can type six letters in the "Register Chat Name" box. Only here do women kneel with their thighs parted widely and chatter endlessly about silks, rather than complaining about the backstrain that the silly position is causing them. Only here can you find collars so encrusted with gems and gold that Cortez would have broken off his conquest of the Aztecs to make a raid on BDSM rooms.
I'm always curious about my motivation for coming here. I think its a bit of a cross between emotional masochism and the urge, however misguided, to see if there's anyone I can help in any (non-financial) way. I started out here, and only went real-life thanks to some friends. I do have friends who I can only "see" in chat, due to distance and real-life concerns. But I can see them on my various pager services, and the inanities of chat are starting to grate on me in a very serious way.
I have compiled a list (since I have way too much free time on my hands) of the top five most inane chat "conventions" I have seen so far.
- The "Natural Order" convention. "I am Male, you are female. On your knees now, slave." - This one is a favorite of mine. I have a penis too (five, actually, interchangeable and differently sized and shaped), and I can piss 100% of the time without dribbling over the side of the toilet. Superior? I don't think so. Yes, I know its not only a chat convention, but its just as silly offline.
- The "Dom/mes are capitalized, submissives are uncapitalized" convention. "Your name is capitalized. You can't be submissive." - I do have a sub side, but also celebrate the English language, and proper nouns are capitalized. If you don't want your name capitalized, for whatever reason, that's fine. I'm not e.e. cummings. In case you haven't guessed by now, I/i A/am N/not A/a B/big F/fan O/of T/the "A/all" C/convention, E/either.
- The "Asking permission to enter the room - while in the room" convention. - Does this one really require any extra explanation? If you're in a Gorean room or private room, I can understand it, but not otherwise. You're already in the room. Can we say "begging for attention"?
- The "Every Dominant is My Brother/Sister - every submissive is my sister/brother" convention. "Hi, sis!" - A great comedian once said "I'm in therapy because I have a family." I dislike this one a great deal, but I'm called rude if I politely state that I don't want to be called a sister. I don't believe in any innate "family" in the BDSM community, but perhaps I should re-think my stance on that. The interactions are certainly neurotic enough.
- The "Respect towards anyone claiming to be Dominant is required" convention. "Greetings to You, Master6969_69_incaseyoudidntsee_69. How may this humble one kiss your ass?" - When I see someone demanding respect and the use of their title because they've managed to capitalize their name and pronouns, it makes me laugh. In the real world, half the members of most real life groups are barely on speaking terms with the other half. I can understand the desire for courteous treatment, but respect is earned. I do not call people "Sir" or "Master" unless I know them well, especially online. If someone demands it of me, well. I have two two-syllable responses, one of which is "Oh, please."
Also high on my list is:
- Sitting on a "throne".
- Acting as though any submissive has to defer to just any Dominant.
- Riding into a chat room on your "steed", which miraculously doesn't leave a large pile of horseshit behind.
- The "chat room as castle" fantasy.
- The concept of a "True" Dominant or "true" submissive. It implies somehow one person has more "reality" than another, and, frankly, in most cases that's a big load of bullpucky.
- "Oh no! A spanking! What a horrific punishment! I will never be able to handle that!"
- Switches don't exist. They're just confused/in denial. HA!
- The idea that if a submissive speaks to a Dominant, that submissive is interested in the Dom.
- REAL MASTERS don't switch. Ever. They lose their Dom cards if they do. This one follows "I could never submit to someone who had bottomed". Why not? They certainly have more of a clue what is going on in your head (and on the skin of your ass) than those who haven't.
- Mistresses can switch, but if they have a Master and a submissive, they're not switches, because they "only sub to one". Er, right.
- "Submission is not selfish."
- Submissive baby talk. "Dis, dat, whut, wif, dey." ICK!
- All submissives are painsluts. Uh... sure. This is almost as fun as "all submissives crave being a maid service for their Dominant".
- And, last but not least, the notion that this is somehow as "real" as real-time BDSM interactions. Guess what? You're not. You're getting the shadow of a shadow of the real thing.
I do have to say that there is one chat convention that is there for a good reason, and that's the "no private messages without permission" rule found in a great many chat rooms (and not just in the BDSM section). PMs are disruptive and annoying, and if you're not expecting one, they can fragment conversation - not to mention the fact that they tend to be full of "a/s/l" and "wanna fuck?" crap.
I can't be bothered to list anymore right now, but I think that this will be sufficient to offend about ninety-five percent of the chatters I know. You have to love the defensive. Maybe five percent will read it and think - but I know I'm being optimistic.
More Essays by Rowan Ste. Julian
Further Reading on Netquette and Internet History
- Some Notes on Netiquette and 'Net Basics by Ambrosio
- About BDSM Usenet Newsgroups: In the mid-1990s, visiting newsgroups was a great way to learn about WIITWD. The resource on this page are mostly offered as historical documentation.
- The Idiocy of Chat Conventions by Rowan Ste. Julian
- About the POWERotics Foundation and Hans Meijer: The POWERotics Foundation was one of many Internet publisher with BDSM themed web sites. It no longer exists, but many of the articles by its chairman, Hans Meijer, are still available on-line and still relevant. Some are on this website.
- About this site: People to thank, fonts with which to best view the site, and a yet more links.