Someone once ventured, no doubt with awareness of the irony (as am I), that “opinions are like arseh0les, everyone’s got one.” In the world of internet p0rn0graphy this surely seems to be the case, and if you’re not careful someone will jam a c0ck in it. Which brings me to the world of virtual climbing, the forums. When I’m not downloading internet p0rn, I often check out some of the climbing forums, or one Victorian one in particularly. Like a certain glossy Australian climbing magazine, it quickly loses it appeal, and I rarely find anything to sustain my interest. That could be my fault of course; a life time of substance abuse and a fractional mind have given me the concentration span of an …where was I? Oh, climbing forums. In the old days you used to have to write a sycophantic letter to Rock to get your opinion published, or be the loudest mouth in the campsite (an option taken by many I could name). Of course, as Mark C pointed out, you could just monopolise the climbing media. However, with the advent of cyber-democracy (I’ll return to this), the Wiki world, all opinions are equal and equally inane.
You can go online and mention the routes you climbed on the weekend and not gain opprobrium from your online peers. In fact, other avatars will tell you that you rock, that they also found that route good, the number of times they’ve done it, and where the retro-bolts should go. Oops, did I say retro-bolts. The good old fashioned sport of taking the p1ss out of someone’s ascent seems to have completely died out, under the kindly and wise eyes of the forum’s moderators. I hope this doesn’t mean sandbagging is also dead. Surely not. Next the old Australian tradition of making jokes about bombs on planes will be illegal.
The forums are instead full of scintillating t1tbits of wit, and wisdom, long paeans to peoples’ opinions of what rope you should bring to Arapiles in what month, what shoe is best to climb Morphyd, and um [snore]… sorry dozed off there.
It interests me that the majority of posters are young males. Geeks. Working dead-end jobs in the city and dreaming of being rockstars. My evidence for this is that they log on Sunday nights after the crag (implying they’re not getting any) and are online all hours of the work day. They post links to Sci Fi remakes on youtube, and to any obscure piece of climbing trivia that endless hours trolling the net have uncovered. The modern equivalent of faxing a photocopy of your pr1ck to a public service buddy. (2016 edit – Most forum posts are now by old fahts, myself included).