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*** continued from part 1 Section 2. Social Aspects of The Net. *** Tolerance This is an important quality for peaceful interaction on the Net (and in Real Life). _All_ sorts of people use the Net. Old, young. Black, white, everything in between. Atheists, Christians, Moslems, Pagans. Homosexuals, heterosexuals, bisexuals. IBM PC users, Macintosh users. You won't get very far if you immediately dismiss anyone as unworthy of your attention simply because they're not like you. Never, _ever_ make assumptions about somebody based on your concept of what people 'like that' are like. Try chatting with them to find out the truth. We can all get along if people remember that everybody else is people too, and not evil scum. *** Net Romance Over the Net, you can communicate with hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of people. With all of these people, sooner or later you may find yourself chatting with some member of an appropriate sex whom you find interesting... and who, amazingly, finds you interesting in return. Congratulations! You're now involved in one of the more interesting situations that develops on the Net... a "net.romance". First off, don't panic... if this person lives fairly close to you, you can ask him or her out on a quick date before things get too serious. That puts you right back into "Real Life Romance", which, even if we don't fully understand it, is just a little easier to cope with. But what if this person lives a hundred miles away... or even, as sometimes happens, thousands, or several thousand miles away? Here is where things can get dangerous. Many people have tried to quantify what makes two people attracted to each other. All of them have failed in the end; there are simply too many variables. This failure is an important lesson to keep in mind when you find yourself attracted to someone many miles away on the Net. It _is_ possible to fall in love over the Net, and to fall hard... and it's possible that when you meet this "love of your life", you'll find yourself perfectly compatible and still very much in love. But it's also possible to find out that this person you've been talking to is so... well, _different_, to what you thought. Perhaps over the Net, your sweetie seemed so quiet and shy, but is loud and a braggart instead. Maybe you thought s/he was bold and talkative, when s/he's tightlipped and uncommunicative. Maybe the person who seemed very physical is frightened of being touched, or maybe s/he's constantly pawing at you, never giving you a moment of peace. Get the idea? There are thousands of things you just don't know about people until you meet them... and there will almost always be something EXTREMELY important that you don't know about your net.love until you meet him or her. Sure, you can and will learn a huge amount of information about this person beforehand. One of the beautiful things about the Net is the fact that you can learn about people in their 'purest form', by how they talk and think, before you are forced to consider their appearance, mannerisms, and quirks of personality. This can be great - maybe you'll end up in a happy relationship with someone you never would have considered had you met them in Real Life first. But unfortunately, mostly it doesn't work like that. In the end, there will always be something unknown and unknowable about that person until you meet for real, and that might be a huge stumbling block. Why these dire sounding warnings? We certainly are not going to suggest you SHOULDN'T fall in love over the Net; you might, and it might be a wonderful thing. Some people here can testify to that. However, like net.addiction, _unworkable_ net.romances are a constant danger. You should be willing to take a step back and look at yourself and your behavior. Do you have unrealistic EXPECTATIONS (we all have unrealistic HOPES, which is a different matter entirely) about this person? Are you ignoring other people who might be as important to you? Do you find yourself pinning a huge amount of importance on this person (planning on moving to another city without consideration of career, money, etc)? Then you may have just fallen into a bad net.romance. *** People Ignoring You When people find a friendly-looking group like Callahan's, they sometimes expect lots of responses or instant responses to their first post. This is unrealistic, for two very good reasons: 1. News software is notoriously unreliable. Sometimes a post never makes it out to the world in general, and sometimes it can be delayed by several days - up to two weeks or even more. This is true whether or not it appears at _your_ site! If the post exists on one machine, there is no guarantee whatsoever that it exists anywhere else. 2. People are busy! Any given person who actually does see a post may be too busy at that time to reply immediately, or even at all. But since there are lots of people in Callahan's, surely _someone_ will reply? Not so - the laws of statistics make it inevitable that some new posters will miss out. We're not elitist or anything, and we don't ignore people on purpose unless they post something nasty and insulting. We just sometimes aren't given enough of a chance to get our act together. :-) So if you post an introduction and don't see any responses for a few days, don't assume that you've been deliberately ignored and walk off in a huff. Try again. Or send e-mail to a friendly looking person and say that you suspect your post never made it out and could they please check to see if it did. An e-mail is more likely to get a reply for you, and is the best way to work out if the problem is technical. *** Net Addiction This is serious. The amount of time a person spends keeping up with newsgroups can become a problem, especially with an active VR group like Callahans. It is all too easy to become net.addicted, where keeping up with the surging tide of information and new friends becomes more important than activities and relationships in Real Life. When properly used, the Net can be a useful resource in leading a full and interesting life. Many of us make some of our best friends here. But a newsgroup should never be a _substitute_ for Real Life. And it should never be something that interferes with your personal relationships, study, or work. If you find yourself spending _too_much_ time interacting with people on the Net, you should seriously consider cutting back. How much time is too much? This depends a lot on how much other stuff you have to do in your regular life. If you start to neglect your work, or your study, or probably most importantly your Real Life friends, then you have the warning signs. Note the distinction: If you log in and spend ten hours a day socialising via the Net, that's not a problem. If you spend three hours a day logged in, and ignore your spouse or miss work deadlines, that _is_ a problem. What to do? Unsubscribe to a few newsgroups. Do you _really_ need to read everything in rec.humor? Be a little more selective about what you read, and to what you reply. Even in a single group, you don't have to read everything to participate. Callahan's in particular always has lots of different threads going on. Pretend you're in a real bar and join only the two or three in which you are really interested. And remember, in Callahan's there are always sympathetic ears who will listen and try to help if you ask for it. One patron became addicted to the Net a while ago, and it almost destroyed a 10 year marriage. (They are recovering together now.) We don't want this to happen ever again. *** Net Burnout The patrons of Callahan's like to care for each other, especially in times of personal crisis or turmoil. We do have to be careful, however, not to care _too_ much. It can be easy at times to throw yourself into supportive roles for several people at once. You can end up composing several long and heartfelt e-mail messages every day and find yourself taking on some of the burdens of these people. If you have the resources to spare, this can be okay, but too much of this sort of activity can lead to net.burnout, where you spend your days in a daze, emotionally drained and perhaps physically tired too through lack of sleep. This is similar to net.addiction, but in this case it is not the amount of time you spend on the Net, but the amount of effort you are putting into it. Interacting on the Net should never be a chore, it should be fun. If you find your Net time becoming hard work, take a break and relax; do something you enjoy in RL. Physical activity is good, exercising slack muscles and getting the blood pumping. Jog, play football, shoot hoops, dance, throw frisbees, build a birdhouse. But then, what can we do when people are hurting and need our help? Just remember that many Callahan's people will leap to provide comfort and assistance. If you already have a full or overloaded emotional plate to deal with, don't feel guilty about not accepting dessert. Maybe you can just send a short note to show you are thinking of them, but you don't always have to offer your ear as "always open". It may sound selfish, but if you end up burning yourself out then you won't be much of a help to _anybody_. So look after _yourself_ too, okay? *** Hate Mail This is a nasty topic, but it's better if you know about it. There are _many_ more people reading Callahan's than posting to it (50,000 at the last official estimate - July 1994). Most of them are good people, but there is the odd bad apple out there - someone who maintains a prejudiced, biased, or plain hateful view of some topic or other. These people usually prefer to keep out of the public eye, but may make their presence felt by sending anonymous or semi-anonymous hate mail to people with whom they feel they have a grievance. The active patrons of Callahan's do not condone such action, and abhor it as antithetical to the spirit of the Place. You will hopefully never receive such a message, but if you do, here are the three steps you should take: 1. Do not attempt to e-mail a reply to the person, and do not make a public post mentioning it. Acknowledging the mail in _any_ way may provoke further, and more disgusting, responses. 2. Realise that the person is intolerant and misguided. Do not give credence to any of what they say. 3. Save the message. Send me a copy, including all the header information, by e-mail (email@example.com). I will do everything in my power to track down the culprit and contact the administrators of the person's site with the evidence. Section 3. Technical Matters. *** KILL Files A KILL file is something which many newsreaders use to filter through your news before you read it. You can set it so you don't see any posts with certain words in the Subject line, or written by certain people. Combined with Subject line keywords, KILL files are a powerful way to cut down your newsreading time if, for example, you don't want to read any PARTY or SOAPBOX posts. But whatever you do, don't kill the keyword 'ADMIN'! You could miss some very important stuff! If you want to kill _this_ post (parts 1 and 2) so you don't see it every 2 weeks, the best way is to scan for the string "New Patron's". (Your documentation should tell you how to do this.) If a particular person seems to make posts which you find irritating or insulting, you can put that person in your KILL file. Nobody can stop you, and it can be a good way of avoiding confrontation - although it can be argued that you are better off standing up to it (politely, of course). But NEVER *EVER* make a post saying that you have KILL-filed somebody. This is the ABSOLUTE HEIGHT OF RUDENESS and you WILL get mail telling you so. It is like being a hit-and-run driver, only deliberate. *** Redirecting Replies Some people like to have e-mail replies sent to a different account name than the one from which they post. If you want to do this, there's no need to tell people to "Send replies to firstname.lastname@example.org". If you use your editor to add the line: Reply-To: email@example.com to the header of your posts, then e-mailed replies will automagically be sent to that address! This saves other people from having to fiddle with your return address, and you from getting e-mail in the wrong account if people forget. *** Other Good Advice for New Net Users If you're new to the Net, it's a very good idea to check out the newsgroups news.announce.newusers and news.newusers.questions. These groups have lots of good information for people learning to interact on the Net, including how to use KILL files and how to do neat things with article headers. Most of your questions will probably be answered by periodic posts in these groups. *** Using Your Editor/News-Software Some of the suggestions in these posts rely on your ability to use your editor and newsreading software properly. If you don't know how to use either of these to achieve these goals, it is best that you ask someone local at your site. There are too many different programs to allow us to cover how to use all of them - you are much better off getting specific help from local people (or your on-line help system). If, for some reason, you still can't work something out, you could try posting a request for help. If you do this, please make sure that: 1. Nobody local can help you; 2. You tell us exactly what computer operating system, newsreading program, and editor you are using. Hopefully somebody here will have enough experience in your particular software to be able to help you. ----- That's it for the new poster guidelines. Much more information specifically on alt.callahans is available in: The Callahan's Allabout : David Mar (firstname.lastname@example.org) The Callahan's Keyword Guidelines : David Mar (email@example.com) The Callahan's World Wide Web page (ask a local about accessing this!): http://www.physics.su.oz.au/~mar/callahans.html If you have any suggestions for changes to this file, please mail me. Thanks to: kitten, Margaret Gibbs, Alfvaen, Nicarra, Jason Magnus, John Palmer, /*, John Ockerbloom. - Danger Mouse.