I put away the reasons why I hate my message board for awhile because in truth it was difficult for me to find an acceptable way to complain about people who were more or less my customers on the front page of a website most of them visit every day. It seems kind of ungrateful, doesn’t it? Here, come help me grow my big corporate empire you worthless, lazy, ignorant, annoying whine-babies! That sounds inviting, doesn’t it? Although in all honestly, I’m pretty sure 99% of them didn’t think I was talking about them and the 1% who did take it personally had low self esteem and expected nothing better.
Still, it was a problem until I really and truly accepted the truth into my heart: if they leave just because I think they are whine-babies and told the whole world so, that means they really weren’t my friends after all and I am better off without them and so I have decided to continue this series.
You’d think people would ask me all the time what it’s like to have such an important job as message board owner and administrator (root administrator, mind you, not just regular old administrator) but I think maybe one person did, at the beginning, just to be polite. That’s the problem with people these days, they lack curiosity and an interest in how things work. Oh the wisdom I could impart to them if only they were open to receive it! My heart aches for the lost opportunities, but what are you going to do? Blog about it? Ha!
Most days it’s a pretty easy gig. I check my email often to see if anyone is having problems, do a quick scan of the boards several times a day to make sure nobody has started a thread titled “OMG, WTF, HELP! I have a PROBLEM!” or that there is no interesting drama that might need monitoring in case a cat fight breaks out. Make sure we have money coming in to pay the bills, that sort of thing. It’s not what I dreamed of doing as an idealistic high school student, but it feels good to provide a service people need.
And then there are the other days. Have you ever had a party at your house get out of hand? People you don’t know show up and invite other people and before you know it, your house is crowded with people who have no idea who you are, and what’s more even if they did know, they really don’t care. You’re standing right there, right next to them even, and they are making fun of your furniture and complaining about the food and when you go over to talk to say hi and be a good host, they ignore you and keep jabbering away with their friends. Meanwhile people are smoking inside and putting drinks on tables without coasters and people either ignore you or get huffy puffy when you ask them to stop. Finally, it’s time for everyone to leave and a couple of folks say thanks but most people just shuffle out, many of them talking about the even better party they should have gone to instead.
That’s what a really bad day as a message board administrator is like. It’s a job and just like any other you often feel unappreciated and misunderstood but have to bite your tongue lest you get fired or people start thinking that you’re an oversensitive whackadoodle. The thing is, you do have to be careful what you say, lest people think that you are trying to make them feel beholden to you. Or worse, that you are on a power trip. Nobody wants that, I certainly don’t want people to think that they owe me something or have to walk on eggshells around me.
I think that for the most part people just forget that I, and every other message board administrator/owner out there have a lot invested in their boards. I do want the members to feel a sense of ownership in the boards. I do want them to feel free to come to me with ideas, suggestions, criticism and problems. I do not want them to feel like it’s my way or the high way.
That said, it’s hard some days not to let it get to you. Some days I really do want to just let it fly and ask “Hey, how would you feel if you spent all day fixing a problem, and people’s response to that was ‘that problem sucked. frowny face’?” or “Hey, how would you like it if you were telling people important information they needed but nobody could be bothered to acknowledge that you said something?” That actually might not go over to badly, except that I’d add something unhelpful like “because Lord knows we all listen to you moan and groan enough”.
On really bad days, I’m always tempted to cleverly disguise my complaints about message board administrating in the form of a story about something bad some person offline did to me. In my head I call these the parables of the bitches. And I imagine all the sympathy I’d get and all the commiseration and then I’d say “Look at yourselves, for you, YOU were the ones that were so ugly to me!” It seems to me that it would backfire horribly so I haven’t done it yet, but I get a great adolescent sense of satisfaction imaging how sorry everyone would be once they realized how truly wounded a soul I am.
That’s really not how the world works, though, is it? For the most part, people want you to do your job and let them go about their business. You can’t always expect support and a cheering section and frankly sometimes the better you do, the less people think to encourage you. Sometimes that’s when people start subtly discouraging you. If you’re an 80s style can do person like I am, you wallow in the self pity for a minute, pull on the leg warmers and make your passion happen. But first, make a list of all the people that wronged you so that you can snub them when you make it big. There is no reason positivity can’t go hand in hand with petty list making. No reason at all.
Oh yes, I did embed a cheesy 80s video in my post. Without one ounce of shame – not even a gram.