Paperlate: Does arguing online ever solve anything?

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I’ve been following the multifarious Facebook threads posted on the Prog Magazine Readers forum with a mixture of interest, excitement… and bemusement.

Lots of new bands to check out, opportunities to reminisce and share our album and concert experiences, and naturally a bit of robust debating as we each try to put the world of prog to rights. And for the most part it’s been friendly and cordial, and for me, it’s become a sort of home away from home. It’s a vibrant community that supports the magazine and the genre, and gives us a vital prog fix while we wait for the next issue to arrive.

However, as we all know from experience, sometimes a random comment can be easily misconstrued, or someone takes personal offence at an implied criticism, and before we know it a casual query becomes a verbal battlefield.

Just recently someone posted a comment inviting suggestions for albums which might change his opinion of a certain high-profile prog band. The initial responses were friendly, if perhaps
a little querulous in some cases, but for the most part I found it interesting to read all the differing views around this band’s considerable legacy of music.

Let’s face it, when it comes to our favourite bands, we all have something earnest to say. Unfortunately some of us are a little more earnest in our contributions; it gets a little heated, and suddenly our community becomes the very thing we dislike about those other music forums which we perceive to be blinkered and prejudiced. Worse, it starts to drive people away from our own community.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how quickly this group has grown, and how much goodwill we show to each other in supporting a music genre that’s all too often derided elsewhere. It would be a shame if this progress started to decline because of a few ill-judged posts. (I, too, can be just as prone to posting a ratty comment in the heat of the moment!)

Perhaps we should be asking ourselves: in the time it’s taken to write and post our comment for argument’s sake, how many new songs could we have listened to? How many new acts have missed their window of opportunity on the Facebook page because we were too busy reheating the same arguments about an established band? Said band doesn’t need our approval, and probably cares less what any of us think. But the new bands trying to get our attention do care and need all the support they can get.

If any of you have seen the opening scene in the movie The Warriors, think of Cyrus addressing the massed gangs, berating them for fighting one another for their own little piece of turf. “All we have to do is keep up the general truce[…] because it’s all our turf!”

Can you dig it?

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