Monday, February 23, 2009

Mortal Kombat

I've been on the internet since its early days. Back then, it was hideously expensive, frustratingly slow and mighty unreliable. There was no google, myspace or facebook, yahoo was evolving and porn wasn't free. There was no blogging and some of the few ways to communicate with strangers were IRC and usenet. The latter was occupied and aggressively maintained by angry nerds of all ages. I was 13 or 14 and was given to typing like I was texting on a cell phone (strangely enough, I didn't have one till much later). I was crucified for the first post I made, and it made me feel like shit. I still know where to find that post, but won't post it for obvious reasons. Soon, I caught up with the program was blazing away on the digital trail.

You can never take anyone seriously enough online. The anonymity that the internet provides makes for spectacular cajones and people are nasty, witty, interesting, predictable - sometimes all at once. In real life (IRL), people are almost the same. Usually civil, occasionally awkward and sometimes funny. While one may want/need the opinions of strangers (or people of online acquaintance), there's only so much thought you should give to the words of some chap with a little time to kill.

I've been on forums, slashdot, comment threads in communities and blogs long enough to somewhat understand human behavior online. Although the idea is to discuss opinions, people get into arguments. Some of them get nasty and turn into flames. Flames sometimes augur very well for traffic, but in the end they all end mundanely . It's like peeing in a crowded swimming pool - wrong but hysterically funny, until you realize that you're swimming in your own waste, and perhaps others had that idea too. Flames lose the original intent behind the argument rather quickly, and they turn into long-winding slugfests that people participate in, only because they want to have the last word, as useless as it may be. I've noticed a few patterns after having instigated and participating in plenty of flames.

Presenting, the top 5 defensive tactics and ways to deal with them -

Ad-hominem attacks.
"Oh yeah? If that's what you think about subject at hand you must be a retard". Common insult when a person has nothing much to say about the previous post since it did make sense, and cannot be countered by logical reasoning. Falls apart when goaded into sticking to the topic at hand. "Yeah, very clever, how about you focus on subject at hand and leave the Freudian shit to someone who knows better?" is known to work.

It's my blog/forum/website, I'll do whatever I want shpiel.
Web 2.0 (i.e. sites that allow and encourage interaction) presents a unique set of opportunities and problems. While your opinion may be spoken about on your site and elsewhere, it opens up the place for attacks on your thoughts. Many times, a good perspective will help quell some nastiness. However, if the perp is out to get you, taking it on the chin may be the only resort. A common mistake is present something controversial, and just dismiss it altogether in the next line (or post) by saying it's your website, a place where you don't need to justify your thoughts. Unless you can pull that opinion off without a long winded explanation, why bother maintaining it? Telling the author that's a weak line defense doesn't solve anything, but is extremely funny.

Yeah, I wasn't being too serious about it, get a life...
We write about the thoughts we subscribe to, because we like them, and want to be heard. But when one is forced into a corner thanks to numbers or strong words, some people throw water on it all by simply shrugging it off. It mattered, at some point. Admit it. How hard is it to agree with someone else? Laugh this line of defense off for maximum hit points.

Verbose posts that say nothing
You will find little ticks in every forum. Ones that don't have any real opinion, but want to be popular. They'll usually align themselves with the hip crowd and chip in with little more than "yeah, I agree" followed by a stream of wordy nothingness. Even if they disagree with the current happenings, they'll continue with the butt kissing, because everyone knows the ticks can't stick it up to the big boys. All the more interesting when the ticks are brown and the asses are white. Ignore the ticks, they'll never amount to much.

You need to get laid.
Right. Ultimate last resort from someone not getting any. Pity is an option.

Flames are great ways to build character and grow a thick skin. If you have the strength, find a forum, recognize the typical defensive reactions and kick their self righteous asses into oblivion. Always makes for good entertainement.


Perakath said...

Ah, what the fuck do you know, moron.

Thanatos said...

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