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Subject:Re: What may new subscribers post? From:Rebecca Phillips <rebecca -at- QRONUS -dot- CO -dot- IL> Date:Tue, 24 Sep 1996 09:33:42 +-200
I understand the argument that the flaming can tend to get over-the-top at times. However, I want to add a few observations on this topic.
In our daily lives, we come across people of different opinions. We have arguments with others on professional matters. In most Western countries, people do not raise their voices during these arguments; however they do communicate strong feelings and objections. Sometimes we walk away from these arguments absolutely flaming mad. Sometimes we feel insulted. That is part of life. However, frontal communication allows us expression that we can't find in electronic communication. Also, since you have a relationship with the person, you have a context which eases the blows of these arguments.
In electronic mail, you often have no means of softening the blow. I find myself frequently sticking in those little happy-face-wink signs because I have no other way of expressing that I don't mean any offense. When you post, you automatically sound more pompous that usual. Also, in making things short, you tend to get to the point a lot faster than in regular conversation. Nobody would put up with a lot of disclaimers. In fact, I have found that disclaimers often are more insulting than the insult. Also, most of us don't have a lot of time to proofread our emails.
E-mail communication is different than regular communication. For one thing, we don't see each other so we can't give visual clues. We also don't even know if we like or respect each other because we have never met. It's a little like honking your horn at the guy holding up traffic and then finding out the poor soul is lost and asking directions.
When I read flaming responses, I mentally turn down the volume. I try to understand that although this person is mad about something, he/she doesn't mean any offense. Probably the person simply said what they mean more bluntly than one would in polite conversation. Frequently, this really is the case. When I have taken heated discussions "off-line", I have found a lot of common ground with my colleagues. Nobody had really meant personal offense. There is just an unavoidable bluntness about writing, particularly if you are in a profession which demands that you write what you mean.
Yes, we all need to watch out how we phrase our email correspondence. I am the first to admit that I have on occasion used harsher language than necessary in writing emails. I have also used harsher language than necessary with my boss. Believe me, even when I didn't know I had done so, someone pointed it out to me, bringing the blood rushing to my cheeks, and teaching me an important lesson.
In the meanwhile, I go on the assumption that nobody here is trying to offend anybody, and I read even the most flaming responses in that light. If they are really flaming, I excuse the person as having a temporary problem which I cannot solve, and press the delete button. There are always going to be some responses that are offensive to some people. I think that is part of a healthy discussion, and part of learning to deal with one another and with ourselves.
Rebecca M. Phillips
Qronus Interactive Ltd.
14 Shabazi Street
Yahud 56231 Israel http://www.qronus-int.com