By now, unless you’ve been living like Richard Proenneke, you know just how awesome the internet is. Who would have thunk it? From its humble beginnings in the mid-90s to the mind-bending repository of knowledge that it is today, the ways the net are empowering and connecting people are nearly innumerable. Almost all of us have “Googled It” at one time or another. And where would we be without online maps and driving directions (at least before TomTom) or without our Facebook conversations or our ability to buy classic video games on Ebay?
The internet has evolved to become a mandatory part of our lives, and for good reason. It’s not all good. Bullying and harassment and other crimes occur online. And what about hackers and those annoying spam emails? However, generally, the internet is a “net” win for us all. And there are all kinds of resources for outdoor lovers on the internet as well, but there’s one aspect which seems to rise above the rest when it comes to the benefits we get, and that is the online outdoor forum.
What is an Online Forum?
Again, you would have to be a hermit to not know what an internet forum is, but for those who need a quick introduction, they are “online discussion sites where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages.” That’s the Wikipedia definition, and it’s good, but it doesn’t capture the real essence of exactly what a form does and how it benefits its users. For that analysis, read on…
Wealth of Knowledge
Pick a topic, any topic and there is no doubt you can find reams and reams of information about it on the web. The internet in and of itself is a wealth of knowledge. An online forum is like a microcosm of the internet, where people can get really nerdy about stuff. You want to know if bubblegum slim senkos work with steelhead? Want to learn what’s better, an Aqua Lung Legend LX or a ScubaPro mk25/s600? Want to know the difference between a blind set and a pocket set? You will find it in a forum. Whatever catches your adventure fancy, there’s an online community for you.
A Place to Socialize
Sometimes you just need to vent. Some moron put his deer stand in the same tree as yours. Some jerk swiped your crap trap. You spent a frigid day on the ocean and got skunked. There will always be someone in the online forum with a similar story, someone who will give you that much-needed company for your misery.
Or maybe you want to gloat. You finally tracked down that 12 point buck. Or your quest for that fall King finally ended in success. Or you found a rare lure at a garage sale. Whatever it is you want to discuss, even if it’s so obscure you can’t find a “live” person who knows what the heck you are talking about, it’s virtually guaranteed someone on the web will want to listen. The online forum is a place to meet new friends, people with the same interests as you, people from all over the world.
A Place for Inspiration
Sometimes we just need a pick-me-up, some wise words or sage advice. Sometimes we need someone to make us see a horizon we may not have noticed otherwise. Sometimes we need inspiration, and online outdoor forums are incredible sources. Whether it’s the encouragement to try a new technique or to travel to a new locale, there are those times when we need that extra shove, that little push that gives us the confidence we were missing. It seems no matter how much you know about something, there will be that old timer who puts you to shame. Not in a bad way, but in such a way that motivates, that stirs up those juices for learning and experiencing. When we learn, we are inspired, and that’s one of the most satisfying aspects of online forums.
A Place for Activism
How many times have you seen something egregious and felt powerless to change it? Whether it’s an unfair law or an unjust action taken by an agency or maybe it was the blatant abuse of power by an official in a position of authority. A lone individual, unless you are a billionaire, really can’t do much to affect change, but the power of an online forum really kicks in where the rubber meets the political road.
Let’s face it. Not everyone out there is in love with the idea of hunting and fishing. Those people form powerful political action groups and pressure lawmakers for stiffer regulations on our favorite sports. We need to have the same sort of influence on our side, and an online forum is the perfect place to start a grassroots movement that would be a force to reckon with.
If you haven’t joined an online forum yet, what are you waiting for? Here are a few of our favorite:
Ifish.net, Trapperman.com, Scubaboard.com, Salmoncrazy.com, Refugeforums.com, Duckhuntingchat.com, Oregonfishingforum.com