Forums are great for some situations
Especially when the forum topic is a hobby, or passion that doesn't have many similar minds to meet up with available locally. If the one thing you love doing more than anything else is building one tenth scale doll houses, but you have to drive half a day to hang out with others who share your passion, forums can be the best thing that ever happened. They allow you to communicate and interact with people daily when to meet any interact in real life is only realistically possible once in very long whiles.
It's great for subjects that are not socially acceptable, especially when Identifying yourself as an enthusiast for subject-X (whatever topic that may be) is one where not only will you become an outcast but also experience many forms of abuse. Society is like that when they feel inferior or fearful for any reason about a person a little bit different, they'll go out of their way to make sure life is hard for you or unpleasant in any way they can. Whether it's attempts to humiliate you, constantly belittling or constantly being the butt of a joke, they find create ways to persecute you for your beliefs and behaviors. Such situations are typically when anonymity can allow for more freedom to be the people they don't get a chance to be in real life but wish they could.
Anonymity is only a problem when it is used becuase someone likes being an asshole but doesn't want to be known as an asshole, some people refer to them as trolls, people who post with the intention of making people upset. Anonymity can also be a problem when sites have a primary or secondary purpose of meeting people or finding those you want to meet in real life. People posing as someone they are not is extremely disrespectful others who are interacting with you because they want to meet in real life.
All sorts of people come to forums for many different reasons, a common reason is, as you said, you find it hard to speak with people you are close to in regards to certain subjects, but are able to to talk to complete strangers. Any topic where you fear your relationship could change or your point of view may not be shared tends to be hard to talk about with those you are close to. It isn't hard to understand, especially when you are worried it may affect how they see you. It doesn't really matter what someone thinks of them if they never have to interact with them at a later date, so of course it seems better to bounce ideas off them. When it comes to relationships in your life, it can be great to get other peoples' opinions, however in such circumstances nothing can really substitute for talking with the people your are in the relationship with. That is when others advice can be harmful (when you make decisions based on what others think who are not friends that know the jist of your situation) While gathering of others opinions is in general always helpful to assess your personal situation, if you don't talk to those who are in the relationship you are gathering opinions about, it is virtually impossible to get good advice. There are often small details which can change everything, using polyamory as an example, I believe when people are a good fit in monogamous relationships, there is no reason they cannot make the transition to polyamorous relationships. The problems arise from not being able to communicate the finer details of exactly what would make their situations alright/acceptable. In many cases it's because they honestly don't know how they will react or what would make poly relationships work for them, however if you cannot talk about poly with your partner, that will be an insurmountable problem. My first two experiences with polyamory were such that I didn't even know the woman I was "seeing" was "seeing" others as more than what non-poly people would understand when their partner talks about other "friends".
When I read the boards here, I often feel there would be easy solutions to the poly problems they are having, but a lot of it might have do with the fact that for years I found ways to walk through a life of polyamory completely in the dark, so when they lights are turned on, it's easy for me. But then again a lot has to do with the people involved, I tend to avoid those who made my life harder when walking in the dark, banging my shins on obstacles set in front me when it is pitch black is one thing, but when there is light I just stay clear of them because I don't like people who act differently anonymous than they do in real life
Forums are also great in order to get many different perspectives, usually perspectives you may not have otherwise been made aware (people from other cultures, countries, or different socio/economic class)
Last edited by Dirtclustit; 06-01-2013 at 11:42 PM.
Reason: added second to last paragraph/fixed typos