Forocoches is a jumble of stories. With 20 million visits per month and some 780,000 registered members, it is the largest Spanish-language forum on the Internet. The stories are arranged in thematic threads that are born, stretched and tangled up to create an indecipherable narrative tangle. “I’m going on a trip to New York, help”, “Reserve Xbox series X”, “At what age did you stop partying?”… The conversation continues with bulimic fury, burying the stories with more stories. Tons of words, photos, and memes pile up in a never-ending torrent of information.
But in Forocoches there is a story that does not go out of style and returns every so often to the first page. It was counted for the first time in June 2008 and accumulates nearly 380,000 messages. It begins like this: “A reasonable amount of time has already passed to reaffirm the “we have left it” and move it away from the simple “we have problems”. You have suffered, you have cried, you have spent sleepless nights looking for the reason why that relationship that you considered good does not continue. It doesn’t matter, you leave it behind. You go out, have fun, take up old hobbies. You think you’ve truly gotten over it. But that night comes, you stay with friends: dinner, drinks, laughter… Everything goes well. You go to the usual place, there is a good atmosphere. And you see it.”
His name was Canesten and he wrote these words under the title When you see your ex for the first time. At first he received signs of support from many forum members. Later, others, feeling identified, were encouraged to share their experiences. Some more gave advice. And so a community of users began to form who exposed their feelings in a stark way. A place to cry and lick your wounds. The most romantic corner of Forocoches. And this is surprising for several reasons.
95% of Forocoches users are men, according to its creator, Alex Marín, in an interview with The vanguard. This male predominance, together with the freedom that anonymity offers, has promoted a certain reputation as a macho place. Embarrassing episodes have helped to shore it up, such as when the personal data and photos of the victim of La Manada were leaked. Or persecution of Twitter users from the left, who are singled out from the forum to coordinate waves of insults. But in an unfathomable place like Forocoches there is room for objectionable stories, for others, most of them inconsequential, and for a few memorable ones. the of When you see your ex for the first time belongs to the latter group.
Rubén Giménez is 41 years old, is a follower of Atlético de Madrid and works in the security sector. And he gives very good advice on relationships. In Forocoches he calls himself Recobrador and has been in charge of keeping the thread alive for a long time. When it approaches 2,000 messages, you have to close it and open a new volume, recovering Canesten’s original message and a series of tips and rules to overcome a breakup. At the time of writing this article, they are on volume 192. “I have a template because otherwise it is very complicated,” he explains in a telephone conversation. “The first kid [Canesten] He was in charge of opening the first volumes. But after he disappeared, I think he is no longer on the forum. And then came a second, a third… we’ve been taking over from then on”.
Giménez entered in 2009 because his girlfriend had left him. “He had been with her for two years and he was knackered,” he recalls. He read the stories of others and was encouraged to share his sorrows. He was therapeutic. “I think it’s because of anonymity,” he reflects now with perspective. “The advice that a friend can give you, who does not want to hurt you, is not the same as a stranger. The advice can be rough, but start from sincerity. And you too, not feeling judged, tell things you wouldn’t tell your friends.”
His story is similar to that of Fuckingmaster. In the real world his name is Alejandro, he is a computer engineer and he is 49 years old. In 2009 he stumbled upon the thread When you see your ex for the first time. And she was shocked. “I had had a very tough breakup years ago and I started comparing it to what had happened to me,” she explains over the phone. “It is as if all your life you have been reading some Egyptian hieroglyphs, thinking to understand something. And suddenly they give you the Rosetta stone and you realize you had no idea. The forum helped me understand, in hindsight, what I did wrong.”
The two foreros believe that anonymity achieves, ironically, a great complicity. Sharing your weaknesses with a bunch of strangers can be easier than sharing your weaknesses with your friends. Especially if you hide under a nickname and an avatar, which serve as a shield against the judgment of others. “Men have, due to the patriarchal culture, more difficulty in showing their feelings, in being able to show themselves vulnerable and recognize that they are having a bad time,” explains Lorenlay Fraile, psychologist and couples therapist. “I see it in consultation, but in a group it is even more complicated. That is why what I have seen on this forum has pleasantly surprised me”, she adds. “Also because of the prejudice for which I left for this place from a feminist perspective.”
In Forocoches the tone is testosteronic, funny and lazy. But when you get to this thread the messages take on a certain weight. There are jokes and outbursts, sometimes the occasional message sneaks in with a certain stale smell. But above all there are men who talk about feelings. Men who cry, who tell how they have been deceived. Men who feel ugly, lonely and sad. Broken men, sincere. “It should be normal,” says Giménez. But is not. “There is something that does not work in this society, that makes us swallow our problems. We eat them and they grow inside. And sometimes you have to kick them out, throw up all the shit you have inside. This forum gives you that opportunity.” Alejandro makes a similar analysis. “We don’t have any emotional training,” he laments. “I have the feeling that emotional education is a bigger taboo than sex. We are all aware that children must be given a sexual education, but there is no emotional education”. He is doing it with his two teenage sons, but he thinks this should be a social discussion, not an individual one. Perhaps that is why he has remained on the forum, many years after closing his own wounds.
Perhaps that is why these two middle-aged men, with their families, their jobs and their determined lives, connect a couple of times a week to give advice to strangers. To listen to their cries and regrets and tell them that everything will pass, that everything will be fine. Or that it will go wrong, that you’re an asshole and what the hell are you doing meeting your ex for dinner. Not being a psychologist gives you certain licenses.
In any case, many men who were once helped by this community stay behind to help others. “I just don’t want this to die”, says Rubén, “It helped me and I want to give back to the forum what it gave me”. His partner points to similar reasons. He says that giving advice to kids who arrive at the thread broken is almost retroactively satisfying: “I feel like I’m giving it to my past self.” Neither Rubén nor Alejandro have studies in psychology. Almost no one has them in this forum, in which advice is given from close quarters and without making a professional approach. “We are not psychologists nor do we claim to be,” says Rubén. “And this is not a substitute for professional treatment, but the story is that not everyone can afford one. That’s why it’s important that we’re here.”
Lorenlay Fraile emphasizes that a forum cannot act as a therapist, but she believes that it can help. “It’s a first step to get out of the hole, show your feelings and not feel like a freak,” he explains. In the end this community is based on empathy. All the stories that can be read in the thread are similar. Although they feel unique. “If you don’t tell, you think your case is special, that it has only happened to you,” admits Alejandro. And there are differences, there are women (in a small but notable proportion) with children who are going through their first divorce, 20-year-olds who believe that the world is going to end because of that first heartbreak, people bordering on depression. There are peculiarities. But deep down, the forum members point out, all disappointments have a common pattern. Therefore, reading the stories of others can help put your own into perspective. “Nobody has the collaborative experience that has been accumulated in this thread for years, no life is that long”, jokes Alejandro. In addition, seeing how others open up can serve to encourage them to participate,” says Dr. Fraile. And she adds: “As in all group therapy, the act of empathizing, and seeing that other people have gone through the same thing also makes one show oneself, express one’s vulnerability without fear.”
And so a repository of heartbreak stories, advice, anecdotes and conversations is created. His reading, assures Alejandro, contains a few life lessons. “They say that no one teaches someone else a lesson, but it’s not true, we recognize ourselves in the stories of others.” Many recognized themselves in the one Canesten wrote in 2008. It helped others tell their story and created a small online community that survived Canesten himself. When searching for it, it appears as a profile with no activity. There have been a couple of threads asking about it. Nobody knows what happened to him. Maybe he changed accounts after gaining so much fame on the forum. Maybe he left him never to come back. He probably got over the hump. And along the way he helped many others to do so. In any case, no one could stop what he started. 14 years later, weekly, hundreds of users stumble upon his story in a Forocoches thread. And they dare to tell theirs.
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– Article Written By @Enrique Alpañés from https://elpais.com/tecnologia/2022-04-28/el-rincon-mas-romantico-de-forocoches-380000-consejos-para-olvidar-a-tu-ex.html