Having been on the WWW now since about 1997, I have a certain amount of experience and opinions regarding Marines Websites, MessageBoards/Forums, etc.
First of all, Forums are one hell of a great way for Marines and Navy Corpsmen, etc. to find one another, get together, and interact online.
But there are a diverse group of Marines out there from some pre--WW II China Marines, WW II and Korean War Veterans, and, of course, Vietnam-era Marines. These are now usually considered by most to be "Old Corps."
(I have myself come to think of "Old Corps" Marines as those who served between the wars--The Great War and WW II, that is.)
But it doesn't stop there, there are also, now the vast majority, the Marines from more recent wars of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and now Iraq and Afghanistan, whatever. Some of these Marines now consider themselves "Old Corps," too.
Many of these Marines are discharged one-cruise Marines, some multiple-cruise Marines, mediacally discharged/retired Marines, regular Marine Corps, USMCR, draftees (selective Service/SS) from years gone by, Retired, etc. Many are war-era veterans, many are combat veterans, many served during peacetime years only, within the U.S. only, or overseas.
Who are these Marines specifically? They are the Infantry Marines (Grunts), the typically held image by the American public of Marines in general. There are also many more Marines not Infantry--Aviation Marines, Admin Marines, Artillery Marines, Service Marines of one kind or another, on down the line. One thing they have in common--they (we) are ALL Marines. All Marines, BTW, are basically Marine Riflemen. But I sometimes wonder if the diverse ages, interests, eras served, etc. does not also serve as barriers to a smooth running exchange of coversation, ideas and so on?
The term "war" I use loosely here, as the last declared war for the United Staes was WW II, BTW.
So all these Marines find themselves a Marine Forum online, get together, find old buddies, make new buddies, swap sea stories, tell lies, etc. A fine time had by all! Right? Yes, for the most part. There is also another side where there is constant bickering and infighting among the members onboard any Marines Forum/messageboard. Insults are traded, name-calling, and downright hatred over different opinions on any subject from the most ridiculous to the more serious. Generally, most Marines are of the political conservative bent, but not all. Politics or otherwise, those in the minority of any topic under discussion are in for a hard time, to the point of others taking sides and organizing to get the perceived 'loner' either shunned by the herd, or kicked out altogether.
Because of these things, it has been my observation that most of those who visit Marine Forums are those known as "lurkers" -- they view the posts on the board, but they do not post themselves or respond to posts. Some do post, but not much. Many just just do not want the hassle. They look in, see others involved in ongoing cyber-fights, and just say, Not This Marine, and they move on and do not return. All posters on these forums form up into various groups of prolific posters, seldom posters, those more interested in specific areas of interest than others. One sub-group usually becomes what I see as the clique prevailing and bullying others within the group. They see to it that all aboard conform to the party line (their party-line), or make them wish they had.
Many of those who avoid these messageboards are those whom, I think, are Marines that should be seen among those very valuable to the Forum, older Marines from days long gone by. Forums can serve the function not only of providing a place for Marines to discuss things online, but to collect and preserve stories/history from these old-timers regarding their knowledge and experiences of long and varied service. Many of the more mundane facets of military life have never been set down in writing. Now that we have the Internet, we have the easily accessible means to both provide and encourage that this be rotinely done. To some extent this has been and is being done, but the potential for this is much greater.
Back in 1997/1998 there were much fewer forums available than today, and most of those available now are big outfits, commercial, business-based. One of the biggest, and most successful, of them in years gone by for "The Few, The Marines" was one that was not a commercial forum, but set up by one Marine for many Marines. It was eventually abandoned, hijacked by ex-marines and sold out from under the Marines who called it home.
True, there were lotsa infighting there then too, just like the many forums today. One good thing to come out of that fiasco was that many of those then homeless Marines, who had had enough of the fighting and back-stabbing on the few available forums, just went ahead and set up their own small forums for their much smaller circle of friends. Like attracts like--something to be said for that. I know of a few of them that are still around. Seems like they may have a better setting for what they want. No doubt there are also shortcomings fort this solution, too. A more specific forum setting may be useful to those w/specific interests.
So, who knows, maybe that's the way to go. But, I have stated my opinions before.
R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952 (Plt #437)--'72
GyG's Globe and Anchor! --Sites & Forums
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