Flaming…If You Own A Computer And Have Taken It Out Of The Box, It’s Bound To Happen…


There are a lot of wonderful things about the Internet. Those of us who are old enough to remember the Internet-less world can appreciate just how much having the world wide web at our fingertips can enrich our lives….

For example, if you’re like me, you have no sense of direction. Internet direction programs have saved me more times than I can count…

And…I never have to worry about what to make for dinner anymore. I can go to any one of the available recipe databases, punch in the ingredients I have on hand, and it’ll tell me what to whip up that night to feed the family…

The Internet has also been great for our social interaction too…before, we just lost touch with people we knew, especially when we moved away. Now, with email, instant chat, Skype, and Facebook, we can easily keep in touch.

In fact, it almost seems that there is nothing bad at all about the Age of Technology…aside from the fantasy based possibility that computers will eventually become self aware and take over the world…:::shudder::: 

So, it’s all harmless, right? Well, not exactly…
It never fails…if you’re even a little active online and either commenting interactively in open forums, or producing your own original content and putting it out there for the world to see, inevitably, somebody somewhere will take issue with what you say, no matter how benign or non-controversial it was when it came out of your head and was typed onto your keyboard. In fact, there probably isn’t anyone walking around out there who owns a computer who hasn’t been flamed at least once.

FLAMING: Flaming, also known as bashing, is hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users. ~ http://www.wikipedia.org

It’s human nature to want to discuss our thoughts and feelings about what’s in the news, etc. with other people. And, an open forum with a news story that we’re interested in is definitely a huge temptation to jump in there and make our views heard. Or read, I guess. For me, this is often where the trouble begins. I can be outspoken, but I do always try to state my opinions in a way that shouldn’t incite any sort of legitimate anger from my fellow posters. But, as it turns out, a lot of them don’t need a reason to make trouble. In fact, more than likely, that’s why they are commenting themselves–just for the sake of making trouble and getting some sort of attention in doing so. I’ve had this happen to me when I’ve commented in political and parenting forums, certainly, where the subject matter is inherently polarizing or controversial. But, flaming happens everywhere–you can’t escape it. I’ve had the same thing happen to me on soap opera, makeup and hair, and other types of forums as well. Flamers become angered by your opinions for whatever reason, and this makes them so frustrated that they counter by attacking you personally…the way you wear your hair, your intellect as they see it, the fact that you’re even online when you should be doing other things according to them, etc. Anything they can grab onto in order to try to shut you up because they don’t like what you’re saying, or simply to bring attention to themselves because that’s why they are interacting in the first place. Not to interact and exchange ideas and discuss, but to get someone to notice them. That’s a sad reality, but nonetheless, the truth is that there are a lot of pathetic trolls out there…

A lot of my friends, and Friends (as in Facebook connections) try to avoid the flaming phenomenon by never interacting at all. Or never posting or commenting anything that might be even the least bit controversial. Or both. This is one strategy, I guess, but I tend to believe that if you have no intention of interacting, saying what you think and seeing what others think, then you might as well not be online at all. Or at least not on any social sites or forums open to comments. For example, I have a friend who is extremely active on Twitter. He has amassed far more Followers than most Twitter users, and he has done so by adhering to his own self imposed Twitter rule of never posting any articles or comments which are at all controversial. However, even he has been flamed! And the reason for that is that everything anyone says or does is fodder for flaming to those who choose to make an issue out of it–no matter what it is. Nothing is safe from the flames! 

So, I have decided to just keep on keepin’ on, as they said in the 70’s (my favorite era these days). If I feel like commenting in a forum, I do, knowing full well that some idiot may randomly choose to attack me personally from out there in left field if they don’t like what I have to say. It just comes with the territory. It never feels good and I never enjoy it, but it’s just a fact of life. Like car wrecks. You do what you can to avoid them, be safe, be courteous to other drivers, but know that you may be unlucky that day if you choose to get out there on the road, living your life and going places. And if you’re a blogger, you have to know that you’re a forum commenter on steroids–literally everything you write leaves you, and the life you lead, vulnerable to somebody (or some troll) who might have something to say about it. And in some cases, some crazy might even be so incensed by your thoughts and your perspectives, or the way you live your life that they’ll…ahem…write a whole blog themselves about it just to call you out

I don’t live life timidly. I won’t. That’s no way to live. So, within reason, I plan to keep interacting in open forums, keep writing blogs when I feel like writing, and in general, putting my thoughts out there into the mix with everybody else’s. After all, that’s why Al Gore invented the Internet, right? 😉 

I have come up with a few strategies for living happily in a flaming world though…

  • Above all, don’t take it too personally. When someone flames you, you have to remember that they are bringing all the garbage of their lives to the party, and are trying to dump it all on you. Sometimes, even when they pick something out about you to insult, it’s not about you at all. Maybe you look like their ex wife or something…
  • Don’t ignore them, don’t let them walk all over you, but don’t let them trick you into a never ending, useless back and forth either. Sometimes, that is what they’re really looking for. Some folks are truly that lame. They can’t get people to talk to them any other way. So, I’ve found it’s best to acknowledge that you’ve seen their comment(s), but that you won’t be falling for it. And then DON’T fall for it. 
  • Understand that flaming comes with the territory. If you want to interact with people online, expect a certain amount of conflict. With online communication, people feel much more free to say things that they definitely wouldn’t say if they were sitting in the same room with you. 
  • Give them the benefit of the doubt. Online communication also doesn’t have the richness that face to face communication has. In other words, those visual cues, along with tone of voice that sometimes convey true meaning in a conversation are totally absent in online, typewritten forums. Sometimes a communication misunderstanding will snowball in an environment like this. Maybe they simply misunderstood your words, or the way you chose to put your words together. 
  • Don’t let it ruin your day or take over your life. Trust me, I know that if this happens to you, your instinct is to keep checking back to see what else they’ve said, what others might have jumped in to rail on you too, etc. Don’t give in to that natural tendency. Say what you need to say, then walk away. Resist the urge to keep going back to the scene of the “crime”…:-)

How do you deal with flaming? Please post your tips and comments below… 

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