I am going to tell you a secret. Many on this path consider helping new people to be a vital part of their practice and tradition. We actually enjoy answering questions, and often we learn as much as you do from open discourse.
I began reaching out to pagan chatrooms and message boards when American Online was the next big thing. Spent some time on Yahoo chats before it turned to hell, showed up on the old message boards and chats. Over the years I picked up a few hints for surviving social sites like this one. Some of these should come across as no brainers, but still, here are the most needed tips.
No one likes a braggart. Hubris is not fun to play with.
Confidence is a wonderful thing but please don't be butthurt when no one is impressed with your long recitation of affiliates and experiences. Experience has taught us to reserve judgement as...big surprise:
People sometimes lie.
Please don't claim a tradition then get offended when vetted. Traddie types take their position in the community very seriously and get a little offended when you claim you are family in order to establish credibility. Traditional types rarely get their panties in a knot when openly vetted, or when they are questioned in more subtle ways but people who cannot properly vet these imaginary ties, fly off the handle. This is a red flag.
Some people will like you for you, others won't. We don't need a grand entrance or invented names and ties. "Hi, I am new to the site and paganism." will be greeted more kindly than, "OMGS Help Me, I am being attacked by demons after performing such and suck working."
There is no need for over the top ice breakers here. People are generally accepting.
Do not expect that we all think alike or will be more accepting than any other religion. We are just as human and suck just as much as the mainstream religions. We have cultural, socioeconomic , and educational biases just like everyone else.
No one is going to give you a hard time for being new. We were all new once and it sucked to deal with trolls and the pagan police.
Very often, the people that most want to educate you are the last your should listen to. Pay attention in the forums and in the chatrooms for who the regulars go to for advice. These people usually have proven themselves and are more than happy to help. Be wary of anyone that leaves generally titillating if vague words on your profile. "I have something important to tell you, please Email me at yahoo."
They have pegged you for an easy mark. Show them you are not. Ignore it.
You will come across a wide variety of uptight, mildly informed people that believe it is their job to fix you. Ignore them. They are no benefit to you or the community. Sometimes their "real" life is not as fulfilling they they dreamed or they just enjoy being mean.
Please, don't start calling people mean and throwing around words like "attacked" if you ask for serious advice about your brother, the vampire. We are here to network and inform, not to amuse your fantasies.
Read between the lines. Sometimes the answer you want is not the answer you get but it might be the one you need. Text is very limited and sometimes intentions do not translate well in any font. Ask yourself if you are mistaking meany pants for upfront and blunt. Some of us don't beat around the bush well while others have it honed to a fine science.
Please do not start recommending medical advice after reading an herbal. It is stupid dangerous and can hurt someone.
If you are confident in your recommendation, be prepared to back it up with hard evidence. Throwing herb names into a chatroom is not the same thing as healing. Unless you have personally worked with and thoroughly understand what you are doing, just don't. Know your side effects, pharmaceutical and herbal interactions, and counter-indicators. Know how to dose and make sure you have a thorough medical history. Even if you are the most intuitive diagnostician ever, it is still the internet and you are still unable to treat people properly. Protect yourself and them. If you truly want to heal with herbs, gain certification and have some hands on experience. "Natural" does not equal safe.
Please don't pick a fight. We are better at winning those than you are. We have a good deal of experience with "know it alls" who don't.
Come as you are. You are most welcome here.
Bravo, well said.
Very well said indeed, Sutra!
LOL Nicely done. Honestly I'm not sure how much of a secret that is... I'd say the real secret is that there are still a few who are not quite so open with answering questions. But yes, most are happy to share.
I remember AOL chats. I was involved when they swallowed up another online company called PCLink right round 1989/90. I feel ancient now... But one of the first things I discovered back then was the pagan rooms. I also remember a number of times people trying to shut them down... good times... good times... well, fun pagan people anyway.
Sutra, love it. Whenever you find yourself unattached, remember, will you marry me?
Strength is necessarily in the individual. Recognizing and exerting your strength is paramount in being a strong witch. Barbara, keep your power and do not give it up to another. We are witches. We judge everything. Your judgment is good.
LOL yes, think most of us back then had one of those. I can say I did learn a lot about the good and the bad back then. Still kind of gives me a headache though to think about how long ago that was and the oddness that went on.