Blog Flame War
- Comme toujours, Tim Burke has incisive and thoughtful comments.
- And my good colleague Bill McInerney reflects:
You know what this is? Internet road rage. I’ve been struck for some time by the fact that when two people arrive at a doorway at the same time, each smiles, nods, and beckons the other through the door. When two drivers arrive at the intersection at the same time, they blow the horn and give each other the finger. Well, some drivers do. What’s the difference? It’s the anonymity of being in the 4,000 pound vehicle, which makes it easy to forget that you’re really not interacting with a machine; there’s a person in there. At the doorway, you see that it’s a person.
I know we all know this. But I had a similar experience once. Back in the Halcyon days of listservs, when everything was ASCII, I had developed a signature file which had a little locomotive, a little Purdue Boilermaker Special, if you will. I was rather proud of it. I posted something to a list I was a member of, and some guy fired back a really tacky response not to what I had said, but to my signature. His point was that bandwidth was limited, and I was wasting it with my signature file. But he said it in a really snide, nasty way.
I emailed the guy off list and told him I had never thought of that before, that it certainly wasn’t my intention to waste bandwidth, realized I was perhaps a bit of a novice when it came to this sort of thing, and thanked him for bringing it to my attention.
I got what I can only describe as an astonished email back from him. He told me he had flamed lots of people, but I was the first person who had ever responded to him in a courteous way, and that he really appreciated it, and that he was sorry the tone of his comments had been so harsh. We ended up corresponding several more times. I think I took him out of his SUV and to the doorway, so to speak.
These three people need to meet at the doorway of a nice coffee shop and have a cup or two.