The Boards vs. Social Media — Can We Have Both?

TAGS: in-depth conversation, social interaction, message boards, the boards, bodybuilding community, twitter, social media, facebook, instagram, Just Sayin', Skip Hill

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Wouldn’t it be cool to have a place on the internet where you could discuss your passion with other people who are equally as passionate about getting ripped and getting more muscular, searching for that ideal physique? A place with a sense of community where you not only interact daily with other people that have the same interests, but where you actually get to know these people over time, almost like a family? Today’s social media doesn’t provide this but there was a time not long ago when you could find it with the click of your mouse: “the boards."  (Message boards for you youngens that don’t recognize the reference.)

No matter what board you called home—The UG, MM, Meso, PM, IM, Bolex, RX, MD, etc.—they were usually referenced only by an acronym. Newbies might use the entire name of the board, but the vets and regulars knew the boards simply by two letters. It wasn’t necessarily a gang affiliation…or was it?  We didn‘t throw signs, but it was common to ask where you were from and get an answer of, “MM is my home but I spend  time at IM and PM, too.”


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The format was almost boring: straight-line format without much of any visual stimulation, but that isn’t why we went there in the first place; no one cared what it looked like. It was a place where you could not only congregate with other like-minded, sub-cultured outcasts, but you could discuss anything and everything related to how to get HYUGE-er or RIPPed-er or both at the same time.  Nothing was off limits — nothing, including your mom.

During this time, anonymity was king. It was rare that anyone used their real name, opting for more of an alter-ego reference or a name an immature teenager (or adult) wished their parents would have named them, but never would have considered. In fact, immaturity was rampant and so was acting like a badass and arguing, non-stop, on an almost daily basis. “Flaming” was everywhere and there were masters of the art that sometimes would end up being elevated to a well-respected status for no other reason than being able to very efficiently and effortlessly hand someone their ass in prose.

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Fast forward to the current computer age and, yes, message boards still exist and there are still some communities left, but not many. And more importantly, the ones that still exist are nothing of what they used to be. You will rarely see a new board pop up these days because that would be akin to wearing a pair of Zubaz to train legs. Sure, they LOOK cool, but everyone will look at you like you are old and outdated.

Social media has replaced message boards and, in my opinion, lacks passion, in-depth interaction and community. Facebook, for example, allows you to connect with a lot of people but the conversations and interactions are limited because they are brief and topics disappear in a matter of hours, typically. There is more of a focus on pictures, less on discussion, and it almost seems more of an avenue for entertainment and impressing others  than it does an avenue for exchanging knowledge or information. Who of your friends on Facebook have you gotten to know a lot better through Facebook? Not many, I bet. Facebook, Instagram and even Twitter are for interaction but they hardly provide a format to really get to know people and have in-depth discussions.

I miss the original message board format for this very reason and I find it disturbing that such a popular venue for communication is starting to slip through our fingers. I also think that there is still a place for this type of format, but that it just needs to be updated and “modernized” to fit our short attention spans and to serve our egos by still allowing us to get “likes." This really isn’t that hard to do; hear me out.


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There are too many forms of social media right now. We are in a time that is the equivalent of  VHS fighting for superiority and popularity over BETA. The only difference is there are ten kinds of VHS and ten kinds of BETA so this might take a while before a winner emerges — or at least a narrowing of the field to about two or three top choices. Once this happens, the format that combines the modern age of “likes," pictures and the ability to self-promote one’s ego, with the ability to discuss topics at length, share knowledge, and have a sense of community, will prevail.

Message boards were too anonymous — to the point of people taking pictures of their physique and chopping off their heads to not be noticed. These days there is more accountability and less bullshit because it is hard to lie to people when they know who you are. The combination of these two formats coming together could revolutionize (and simplify) social media. You basically combine Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and then add in a message board component. How? What will this look like? I have no fucking clue. Do I look like Mark Zuckerberg? I am way darker and my legs are slightly bigger. Plus, I wear t-shirts that are different colors. Someone else is going to have to figure this shit out and get rich.  Just Sayin’.

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