Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I encourage dissent.

Unless you're talking about me.

Oh Romanceland, how I love thee.

I'm not jumping into the fray. (I'm not even going to name the fray, unless you ask me nicely.) I am way too much of a chicken for that. I don't need hordes of fans on either side jumping on my bandwagon to defend my right to free speech. Instead, I'm just going to sit here on the sidelines, ruminating on the various ways one can "get in trouble" in the blogosphere and why I will probably encounter every one of them.

Last week I posted about why I suck. One of the things noted in the footnotes is that you won't find me in a flamewar.

There are so many reasons for this. First and foremost--it's the Internet! Who gives a flying fuck? I mean, really. No. Really. How could it possibly matter in your day-to-day life what is said on here? If you win the flamewar is your boss gonna give you a hundred dollar bonus and a pat on the back? If you lose will everyone at your grocery store point and laugh? Where are the real world implications that affect anything other than your ego?

Another reason you won't catch me in a flamewar is that I'm confident in what I say. Generally on any website or comment space I say what I mean to say and move on. I don't feel the need to defend my point, over, or re-explain myself. In fact, having watched a zillion flamewars in the past, I've noted that those who do jump back in again and again tend to look weak and defensive, vs those who are strong and stoic. I'm not saying I'm strong, or that those who argue for their POV are weak, I'm just saying how they look to outsiders.

The third reason, the one that I alluded to above, the one that makes me a chicken, is the emotional investment. Oh My God!!! Could we ever, possibly, in all the world, be more full of ourselves than when screaming to the (uncaring) heavens, "I'M RIGHT!! I'M RIGHT!! I'M RIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!!!!!!!!"

Yeah, exactly.

Temper tantrum much?

But seriously, a flamewar involves a large emotional investment from both sides to keep going back over the same ground again and again. Making the same points. Telling the other side that if they'd only *listen* they'd see how right I am. It's a game with no referee, just spectators lining up on either side waiting for blood.

It's also a game that has the potential to actually hurt my wee feelings, because once I become invested enough to argue about it, I'm invested enough to care what other people think. But it's the Internet. See point number one above, this emotional investment has no pay off. If I "win" (which I won't because people don't change their minds when emotionally invested) there's no pot of gold, it doesn't help me sleep better, it only strokes my ego and my ego is healthy enough. If I "lose" (which I won't because in a flamewar you Never. Give. Up.) there's no one to commiserate with me, or buy me ice-cream or pat me on the head with a there, there.

It's a lose-lose.

So I've been watching the most recent flamewar spring up in Romanceland. It's actually kind of funny. One side is (meanly) saying we should be nicer, and to stop being snarky and mean. The other side is saying, be nice--how dare you be mean about our snark. See the irony? It's delicious.

Currently reading: He Loves Me He Loves Me Hot
Currently reading:
B is for Burglar
Currently reading: Donovan's Promise
Currently reading: Dead Until Dark


Alex Moore said...

I haven't a clue what flamewar is taking place (& I don't want to know, thank you very much), but this is a delightful post :D and: so. right. on.

Venus Vaughn said...

Thank-you. And Cheers on winning a flamewar of your very own sometime soon. ;)

JenB said...

There's a reason flamewars are commonly called "wankfests"--most of them are just intellectual circle jerks.

Occasionally I will jump in and throw out a word of support for a friend, but otherwise I stay out of most arguments. It's more fun to watch from the sidelines anyway. Less blood that way. :)

Venus Vaughn said...

"wankfest" is a much better descriptor than flamewar. :)

I'll offer online support to a friend if they ask me, but usually I'm the one on phone reminding her that it's just words, and words only hurt if you let 'em.