I was in a spanking chat room the other night where one woman, who identifies as a bottom, happened to say something "inappropriate." A man who identifies as a top (but was not her top) chided her. She wasn't "bratting" per se, but simply being herself, as far as I could tell. There were other bottoms and tops in the room participating in similar virtual exchanges. At one point another bottom was in a virtual corner with a virtual bar of soap in her virtual mouth.
A lot of people really like this back and forth, and sometimes I've engaged in it as well. But on this occasion I found myself getting mildly annoyed -- maybe because I was attempting to start a "real" conversation about something, and it seemed things weren't going that way.
On the one hand, the bratting and resultant topping are ways to break the ice, to connect, to try to make sure you have someone to play with in real life. (Many in this chat are planning to attend a upcoming local party).
On the other hand, it brings me no closer to knowing a new top than I did before I entered the chat room.
What I'd like to know is: Does this top have experience? Does he have a clear idea about what he likes to do when he plays? Does he have the confidence, the ability to take charge? If I see a top in a chat room scolding a bottom -- one he doesn't have a relationship with -- for her chat room banter, it doesn't sound authoritative. It sounds (to me) more like "Oh, there's a reason to spank someone -- I better jump on this!"
If it's a top I have an "understanding" with, that's different. If my top and I establish a rule that I'm not supposed to curse, and we're both in chat and I curse, he can certainly call me out if he chooses. But if he's not there, and some other top knows I'm not "supposed" to curse and I do, it's not up to the second top to jump in and claim authority. It feels silly. If feels opportunistic.
Why do I care? I guess because I'm in the chat for the same reason -- to meet people, to connect, to get an idea of who I'd like to play with at upcoming events. I appreciate a good top. We need them. In my opinion, there aren't enough of them! So how does a top distinguish himself in a chat room? That's tough. Maybe with a little humor: "Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?" Maybe with a hint of what he's done in the past to other bottoms he's played with. Maybe, simply, with honesty.
Maybe for tops and bottoms, it's a matter of stepping away from cliches and getting a little more real. Instead of the old, "I'm allergic to wood!" a bottom could say something like, "Paddles really scare me and they're hard to take, but with certain tops I don't get a choice ... and sometimes that's a good thing."
Sorry for the mild rant.