At my time of life, the years seems to pass rather quickly; so, I'm not absolutely sure when I was introduced to internet forums - but I do recall how I came across them - and that was in an attempt to contact those with whom I had shared a tent on Christmas Island - and, with that in mind, I discovered a couple of web-sites which were created to appeal to ex-service personnel (a military Friends United sort of thing).
Paradoxically, the exercise was something of a failure. However, I did manage to get in touch with them by sending letters to local newspapers in the area where I thought they lived and, since then, we've enjoyed two or three reunions in the meantime.
Anyway, having registered with the aforementioned military web-sites, I started to contribute towards their discussion forums and even administered one for a short while. However, I soon discovered that the internet is an environment in which it is very easy for unscrupulous individuals to present an image of themselves which might not be an entirely accurate representation of the truth.
Now, this is deplorable enough in any walk of life - but within military circles, it falls marginally short of mortal sin. There have, for example, been instances where wearing inappropriate uniforms or unearned campaign medals has revealed blatant imposters - many of whom, as a consequence, were ostracised by friends and neighbours, vilified by the press, and in some cases, faced criminal charges.
From a personal point of view, I contributed to the forums for a while and, despite developing a handful of friendships which have lasted to this day, the combination of bitterness and (IMHO) pettiness which existed within military web-sites was such that I began to distance myself to the point where, eventually, I abandoned them altogether. Subsequently, partly as a means of keeping in touch with my grandsons in the USA, I dabbled with Myspace and Facebook - but, not an awful lot.
Some time later, I discovered a slightly different form of social-networking called Twitter - which has been described as place to be nice to people you've never met; whereas Facebook is a place to be rude to those you actually know. However, as outlined in two earlier blogs, although I had become quite enthusiastic, a growing suspicion that a few egos were being given an outing and, once again, not everyone was what they seemed to be has prompted me to draw away from it for the foreseeable future.
Paradoxically, although I understand the resentment which was expressed towards the military imposters, I felt that the vitriol to which they were subjected was a little 'over-the-top' - especially since all they were really guilty of was vanity and, as has recently been revealed on Twitter, the same condition can apply in Civvy Street. Somehow, however, I feel significantly less inclined to be so sympathetic towards Twitterfrauds because it's unlikely any of them will receive any censure whatsoever.