Mitosis


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We've all seen it. An online forum or chatroom hums along just fine for awhile, attracts more and more members, and then all heck breaks loose. (Yes. I said "heck". Somebody emailed to tell me that my language was getting too salty lately. Since I don't want to fu... er... that is... screw up my relationship with that person, I've decided to self-censor for awhile.)

Anyway, what happens is that a few people drop away from the group and start their own. And then, another group follows suit. And then another. And another. Soon, you've got about a half-dozen or so small groups that are all pretty much saying the same things about the same things. And about the only common characteristic holding these smaller groups together is their shared animosity for the parent group - and for each other.

I entitled this thread "Mitosis", but that's not really an accurate description of what happens when groups split apart. In real mitosis, the parent cell splits into daughter cells which share the same characteristics as the parent. In web-group mitosis, the types of threads and posts encountered may be similar, but the all-pervading atmosphere is one of resentment and ill-will. These web-group daughter cells would kill the parent, if they had but half a chance. Real mitosis indicates growth. Group mitosis, on the other hand, is a sign of decay.

In my neck of the woods, I am aware of three churches whose members all used to attend the same church not more than ten or so years ago. For one reason or another (none of the reasons doctrinal in nature, but basically all due to personality conflicts) these folks - who were all one big, happy family in the past - are now three rather small, rather depressing-to-be-around groups of people.

Folks wonder why there are so many different Christian denominations. It's because those denominations are composed of people, that's why. Flawed, silly, ego-driven, easily ticked-off human beings whose response to something they don't like is to run away to "something better" rather than stick it out where they are. In the past, I've sat on Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, and other Christian pews and, aside from a little tweak here and a little window dressing there, it was all pretty much the same thing. The reason they're not all singing from the same hymnal anymore is because, years ago, somebody got upset with something someone else said or did. Rather than work it out, they instead said, "I'll show you! I'll start my own church!" And so, they did.

That may be the reason that many forums - and almost every blog - exist. If you were able to trace the history of each of them back to their starting points, would you discover that Human A did something just awful to Human B and, instead of working it out like adults, Human B just grabbed a few of his best buddies and opened a shop of his own? I'll bet you would.

Before I get too carried away with this, I should say that I don't think that it's a particularly bad thing that there are so many virtually identical forums out there. A "universal forum", like a "universal church" would just be too unwieldy, and something that large would be lacking the sense of community which a smaller forum has.

Anyway, I say all this because, once upon a time, it was I who started a forum (and another forum, and a blog, and another blog) due to a spat with the owner of a forum I used to be a member of. It's a mistake which I shall never repeat, let me tell you.

In closing, if any of you folks have a problem with this place, then don't go splitting off. Don't grab your toys and run home. Don't conspire, or collude, or crap all over the place in a hissy fit. Just drop a line to Num7 and talk it out. He seems to be a pretty reasonable guy.

(Shi... er... shoot, that was a long post.)