I'm not much of an Internet forum type of person. I've registered with a half dozen different places and a truckload of various job sites that maintain their own message boards over the years. Even with that, I don't consider myself an active contributor and usually visit them purely as emergency sources of information.
I see a lot of immature behaviour, petty squabbling and pointless flame wars. Not that I'm above all of that (the immature part), but I don't like to get sucked into that sort of crap if I can help it.
Well a few weeks ago I registered to a large DJ/music community, introduced myself and within a few days, had received my first flame ever. First? Oh I don't know, I've probably been flamed before, but never like this. Totally unprovoked, a long-time forum member stormed into my innocent, peaceful thread, conveniently misunderstood everything I had previously written, gladly took offense to it and proceeded to insult my integrity, intelligence, abilities and overall goodness of being. I was actually absent from the forum for over a week (twas during Christmas) when it happened and in the intervening days I had a couple more twats take my attacker's side and a few sensible individuals rush to my defense. One of my allies could have been a moderator... at least he had a few billion stars next to his name, meaning he's either a mod or maybe a senior member that joined back when the Internet was invented.
When I finally returned to the forum, I was surprised to see my thread ballooning into two pages. What was all that activity, I wondered. Then I read the flame. What can I say? It's just words on a screen, written by some twit I've never even met, but the insults still hit you in the gut. My jaw may have dropped open a bit at that point. My heart began to beat faster. Hmm, this must be that fight or flight response that I always read about. Except there's nothing to fight or run away from.
I reread the fucktard's message. Wow. I've always prided myself on keeping these kind of conflicts at arm's length. If I find a flame war erupting on one of my forums, I either ignore it or try to be the one sane voice admist the madness and battling egos. I was the target this time. Someone had locked their sights on me and decided to take a shot. Ooooooh babeeeey. The stage was definitely set for me to fire back, and fire back big.
A dozen witty barbs flashed into my brain. Did I really want to get down and dirty? I was completely new to the forum and had every intention of making a positive impression on people. Granted, a big part of joining in the first place was to present myself in a professional manner and to promote my side business. I quickly lost my grasp on all those juicy comebacks begging me to type them into my reply. No, I wouldn't jump into the mud with this guy... yet.
I tapped out a short reply that was more of a knowing nudge and wink than a full-on retaliation. I couldn't resist to slip in a little sarcasm and humour to lighten the mood. I made no apologies but I definitely pulled my punches.
In the end, I felt better about being the "better man". Frankly, I would LOVE for this guy to take issue with my tame response and drag on the point. I would love him to give me an excuse to really take the kid gloves off. I'm reminded of a funny site a friend once sent me that categorizes in great detail all the different types of personalities you'll find on an Internet forum. I'm not quite sure which archetype I'd fit into but I'm pretty sure it's the pacifist dude. Or the guy who barely gives a shit. Check it out here
If the flaming continues, I'll be sure to post up some updates in the future.