Think someone's flaming you? Careful you're not self-immolating
So, I got a response to the repartee I left on Cat's Reality TV for the Meowies blog entry... and got really amused and bemused all at once. While I had thought there was a debate going on, the other party was, apparently getting hot and bothered, framing the idea that she was being flamed. It is interesting to to note there's been two mentions of flaming at this point, and both by the other party. What's even more interesting is how sensitive the other party appeared to be about flames... it seems like the only level playing field is where this person gets to state her views, and... period. Huh? That's it? Yup... imagine this sequence of events:
- You read a blog, and give your comments
- Someone weighs in after you and say the situation is not as bad as you think
- Since the Someone didn't seem to get your drift, you weigh in again, and explain further why you said what you did
- the Someone respond with the statement that she believes in balance, and tell you not to be one-sided in your view, at which point you're going DUH
- You take a deep breath, and reply and give even MORE details to show your views are not formed in a vacuum. And also your opinion that balance is cool, but balance can only happen in a situation where all things are equal. In this particular case, there is IMbalance
- the Someone respond again with the balance thingy again
- You take a really deep breath, reply and give another example, with in-depth details where you feel there's a lack of balance
- the Someone respond and says you read too much into her views, is saying she doesn't support the situation in this particular case, she never intended to criticise your views, just want offer her views, and says she's stopping because you're flaming her.
- You go WTF first, and then WTF again for the almost petulance in the accusation. You then take a really really deep breath, count to ten, just for good measure, and compose a response like this:
- Views are open to interpretation... esp online views
- Views that almost belittle/negate the concerns you raise means supporting the situation, however implicitly
- Views being open to interpretation, are therefore open to responses ... esp online views She can air her views on your views, so can you air your views on her views on your views
- Flaming is defined as nasty responses, and is an accusation that's not taken lightly. You point out, almost with a spotlight that discussions and debates involve saying things in a way you feel strongly for... like it or not, just because a sentence rubs the Soomeone the wrong way doesn't mean she's getting flamed. You also invite the Someone to point out instances in your replies to her where she feels the heat
- What you didn't mention is how the Someone skipped over your latest response, and instead used a retro-quote (a quote from your previous previous previous post) in her accusation of your flaming her, which seems strange since that quote was already dealt with, or so you thought, in the relevant previous posts. And yeah, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen... in a moment of benevolence (the counting and deep-breathing does help!), you decide to save the over-sensitive one more agitation, in case self-immolation occurs and you get pinned with another WTF accusation.
Funky, isn't it? IMO, freaking convoluted too. Ok, so what's the point of all this?
Are you ready???
Don't take things so personally, an opposition to YOUR view is NOT a personal insult. Relax lah! And yeah, everybody else has as much right to view-airing, not to mention responding, as you do.
I kid you not, read this article if you need evidence.. now, don't ASSume you're being flamed if you happen to be the sensitive type. Take 3 DEEP breaths, and then think it over. If it doesn't work, repeat.
Trust me, life will be more endurable... especially if you do like to air your views, more so you're active in online view-airing. At least you reduce the chance of self-immolation and bringing down an innocent party or three with you.
If the deep breathing/stop to think just doesn't work, hey, just remember flames are better used for barbeques, as someone with a sensible mind said. Just be careful playing with that fire, yah?The Secret Cause of Flame Wars By Stephen Leahy . Also by this reporter
02:00 AM Feb, 13, 2006 EST
"Don't work too hard," wrote a colleague in an e-mail today. Was she sincere or sarcastic? I think I know (sarcastic), but I'm probably wrong.
According to recent research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, I've only a 50-50 chance of ascertaining the tone of any e-mail message. The study also shows that people think they've correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time.
"That's how flame wars get started," says psychologist Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago, who conducted the research with Justin Kruger of New York University. "People in our study were convinced they've accurately understood the tone of an e-mail message when in fact their odds are no better than chance," says Epley.
The researchers took 30 pairs of undergraduate students and gave each one a list of 20 statements about topics like campus food or the weather. Assuming either a serious or sarcastic tone, one member of each pair e-mailed the statements to his or her partner. The partners then guessed the intended tone and indicated how confident they were in their answers.
Those who sent the messages predicted that nearly 80 percent of the time their partners would correctly interpret the tone. In fact the recipients got it right just over 50 percent of the time. "People often think the tone or emotion in their messages is obvious because they 'hear' the tone they intend in their head as they write," Epley explains.
At the same time, those reading messages unconsciously interpret them based on their current mood, stereotypes and expectations. Despite this, the research subjects thought they accurately interpreted the messages nine out of 10 times.
The reason for this is egocentrism, or the difficulty some people have detaching themselves from their own perspective, says Epley. In other words, people aren't that good at imagining how a message might be understood from another person's perspective.
"E-mail is very easy to misinterpret, which not only triggers flame wars but lots of litigation," says Nancy Flynn, executive director of the e-Policy Institute and author of guidebooks E-Mail Rules and Instant Messaging Rules. Many companies battle workplace lawsuits triggered by employee e-mail, according to Flynn.
People write absolutely, incredibly stupid things in company e-mails," said Flynn.
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