Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My Time At The Banjo Hangout

I’ll subtitle this, “Pathetic Little Men, Part 3”. Not the picture, not the picture :D .
The Banjo Hangout is an internet message board, relating to all things banjo. I don’t remember the exact date, or even year I joined, but I’ve been there for 3 or 4 years. I’ve tried posting there 3 or 4 times, and each time, I encountered the same things. On all internet message boards, there are the guys who do the usual bullying, insulting, and sometimes threatening, and filthy namecalling. What happened at the Banjo Hangout each time was, I would post an idea, belief, or opinion, only to have one or more guys come after me with their smartass remarks, cheap insults, and ultimately, having my posts deleted, and this last time, being locked out of the message board.  One of my shortcomings is that I let myself get sucked into arguments with dimwits :D .
It all started in a “thread” where a player was asking what the proper use of a tuner was. Some replied with such self serving answers as, “The electronic tuner has become a crutch for too many pickers”, “I'm a tune by ear kinda guy… I can just tell when its flat or sharp…” I tuned totally by ear for 20 years”, “If your ear isn't good enough or "trained" enough to tune, use a tuner”,“I'll ask someone for a middle G, then I'll go from there”, and many other similar posts. I replied, starting with this, “Wow, the ironies, inconsistencies, physical impossibilities, and half truths can be one step short of hilarious”. You can see the whole exchange here: - that's if it's still there.
Here, cut and pasted, are some of what I see as smartass comments: “That first statement is incredulous”, “That second statement is,well, wrong”, “its quite normal for banjos to go out of tune”, “Oh well, hopefully you'll see that at some point and stop this ridiculous attempt to turn this into something ugly”, “I do not think you are trying to 'help' anyone here”, “give this nonsense a rest”, “you are the one call folks 'arses' and other things” (totally not true, I never called anybody anything, you can see for yourself at the link), “Here's the O.P.s original post. So tell me what these statements have to do with it Fid?”, “but simply seek to put your situation on a pedestal”, “instead of simply answering this you continue to rant about me”. He also said several times, "I'm gonna call you on this, I'm gonna call you on that",  trying desperately to establish some kind of superiority. These are all from one guy, who uses the screen name, “Banjophobic”, and this is from one “thread” (a topic where people post their replies). This continued on two other “threads”. After having 8 or 10 of this guy’s friends come to his defense – with more similar smartass comments, I got locked out of the message board, meaning I cannot post there anymore. After a few of Banjophobic’s friends added their cheap insults, the owner of the site, Eric Schlange, posted this: “This thread proves that "Ignorance is bliss."(On a side note, it may also get your account locked.) You get what you give, folks. I’ve said many times, censorship is for cowards, and so is gloating. While it’s annoying to see this stuff – especially when I’m on the receiving end of it, the good thing is, I was able to make my points, and the exchanges spoke for themselves. I realize that some will be ok with my ways and my points, and others won’t. My problem is when moderators step in and come to the rescue of their friends – using their power to delete my posts, and lock me out of the message board. From where I sit, this is cowardly behavior. I guess to make it even worse, this kind of thing seems to be more rampant today than ever before – both on the internet, and in non internet life. Most people cannot debate. As soon as they see a person make a point they do not like or agree with, instead of stating their case, they immediately start with the smartass, the cheap insults, and so on. It always amazes me that moderators will practice buddyism, not caring that it’s more often than not, their friends doing the instigating – and yes, it DOES matter who starts it.

This guy, Banjophobic, is one of those guys who, whenever a question is presented at the message board, will be one of the first to answer, professing to know it all. Some of his information is adequate, other times it's just silly. He's been there for years, and has thousands of posts.  He also has hundreds of sound files of himself playing. He claims he's been playing for more than 30 years, but he is, at best, a mediocre player, and I guess that enrages him. What I believe happened with me is that after a few people posted about tuning often, I posted that if a player is tuning all the time, that there's something wrong with the banjo - either a setup problem, or a "crappy" banjo - meaning a cheaply made one. I also agreed with a couple of posters who said constant tuning could be a nervous habit.  He apparently didn't like my postings, and likely resented that I may have known something he didn't.  This is when he started his smartass remarks, mocking, and ridiculing. I don't know how many times I've said this, but, my belief is, if you cannot debate a person straight up, then you should keep your mouth shut. I guess that's an oxymoron, because when a guy's ego is what drives him, he will never do anything straight up - he will pretend, lie, sling cheap insluts, profess, boast, manipulate, and gloat.
There's a saying, I don't hear it much anymore, but I've learned that it's very true.  It goes like this, "Birds of a feather flock together".  Translated, means that people with similar personalities stick together, and, they will defend each other, unless of course they engage in arguments among themselves.  One of the things I've noticed about internet forums is that most of the people who spend lots of time there are usually very angry, they have the self loathing syndrome, they are know-it-alls, and they are bullies.  This includes the so called moderators.  I did, at different times, go to a few other message boards looking for information.  One was a Beatles site, one was a site to ask technical questions about building a blog, and one was a site to ask technical questions about digital multi track recording.  I experienced precisely the same thing at those sites as I did at Eric Schlange's Banjo Hangout - smartasses, know-it-alls, and bullies.  I guess therein lies the problem with internet forums :D .
There is one glaring fact that I managed to post at the Banjo Hangout before I got locked out. It’s the fact that there are 77,000+ (that’s seventy seven THOUSAND) registered members, while only a small handful are posting – less than a hundred – and that’s a high estimate. My educated guess is that many players and/or banjo enthusiasts have registered, experienced the same thing as I did, and never went back. Of course, I’m sure some had only a question or two, and others have busy lives, but from 77,000 down to less than a hundred is a huge drop.
I go there and read, because even though the ownership and management are small people, I learn some things there, and some of it is just amusing. I will, though, be back to my busy schedule in a couple of weeks, so I won’t have much time to be on the internet (and that’s a good thing). I have lots of recording to do, and lots of practicing. There are also lots of places to play live in Forth Worth, so I’ll probably be working fairly regularly. I don’t want to work more than a night or two a week, I need my energy and time for recording – can’t wait.

Added on 5/23:  I haven't been to the Banjo Hangout since a few days after I was locked out, I guess I just lost interest.  I do, though, see that 60+ people have read this article today - most of whom, I'm assuming, are from said Banjo Hangout.

Added on 5/27:  I see somebody viewed another post of mine regarding the Banjo Hangout, dated July 6, 2012, just about a year ago; I'd forgotten all about this one, you can see it here: .

Added on 1/21/2014:  As I continue to spend 2 - 4 hours a day, at least 2 days a week, playing my banjo, I continue to notice that I rarely have to tune.  I check it before each sitting, and I will go for weeks before having to tune even one string.  The only exception is the couple of times when I went to Rancho San Rafael Park when it was about 45 degrees - I had to tune shortly after I got there - then again the next time I played at home.  I wonder how numbskulls like Banjophobic figure he can "Call somebody on this, call somebody on that" when he's nowhere where he can disprove anything.  Envy, plain and simple - and envy only lives in the small and the pathetic :D .

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