First, I have to say how disappointed I am that I even need to write this, but it is entirely clear that I do. I have in my possession a small collection of flames regarding the content of this LJ. They all have one thing in common: they are pathetic. I mean, there was a time in this world when a flame meant something. I grew up grinding my teeth as I chanted, "Do not feed the trolls" like a mantra. It used to be difficult to move on without responding. And do you know why? Because those trolls were actually good at what they did. They wanted to piss me off, and they succeeded.
From this LJ, though? The very best flames have made me laugh. Most have just left me worried about the future of bitter rhetoric. So it's apparent to me that if I want flaming as an art form to be preserved for future generations, I need to act now. Thus, I'm offering the short course on "Flaming for Dummies." Because evidently some people out there really need it.
- Don't paint the target on your own forehead. So, for example, if you're responding to a rant about poor spelling, grammar, and usage, don't make copious tragic spelling errors in your email. All you're going to do is reinforce my beliefs. (Well, and make me giggle, which was likely not your intention.) I'm really not going to give up on the English language just because it's too hard for you.
- Say what you mean. Sure, meaning what you say is important, too, but it doesn't matter how sincerely you believe your statements if no one else can understand them. I can't be angry and hurt and insulted if I'm too busy trying to figure out what it means that you "het"* me. Do you hate me? Do you heart me? Do you get me? Do you want to have heterosexual sex with me? (For the record, if it's the last one, don't hold on to your hopes. I don't have sex outside my space-time continuum, and it's clear that you come from Alternate Earth #437, where they speak Genslih, that strange language that has some things in common with English, but doesn't make a lick of sense to English speakers.)
- Know your target, part I. Before you write me hostile email, take four minutes to review my user info and read one of my posts completely. It will greatly enhance the success of your flames. Because, see, when you base your flame on the assumptions that, for example, I come from New York City (or Europe), I have a penis, and I am a teacher, I'm not going to be wounded. I'm going to be wondering if there's a website for mis-directed flames where I can post this so that perhaps the proper be-penised Manhattan-based educator will someday see it.
- Know your target, part II. If you're going to insult me, then insult me. Please. Do not simply state the truth and expect that I will understand why it's a bad thing. For example, if you tell me that I like boys, or that I like girls, my reaction is going to be that yes, I do, at least in some specific cases, although I'm working every day to make my misanthropy all-encompassing, so be sure to check back later. If you tell me that I shouldn't think I'm better than other people just because I "write good,"* I'm going to focus on that last part first. I do write "good." I write it all the time, because this is a LJ about good fan fiction, but I wouldn't call it an ability of which I am particularly proud. Or do you mean that I write well? Because in that case, um, you've just complimented me, which is not going to enhance the burn at all. So by the time I get around to the first part of your sentence, which was the supposed insult, my only possible response is, "I don't think I'm better than most people. I just think I'm better than you, but only because you can't flame me for shit."
- Sarcasm is not for everyone. Specifically, it's probably not for you. I mean, you got offended by that comment I made because you didn't get that it was sarcastic, right? Well, if you can't recognize it, honey, you sure can't use it. Stick to insults you hear in daily use on a kindergarten playground. Or, you know, if that's too much, I could probably dig up some links to form flames for you. Just let me know how I can help; I want to make flaming me as easy and successful as possible.
- If you caused your problem, don't come crying to me. Let me emphasize that you are welcome to read this LJ even if you don't read slash; I'm happy you're here, and I do post some stuff that won't bother you. And I have received email from people who are looking for non-slash recs in one of my fandoms, and I have helped those people, because they were balanced and polite. In other words, they didn't send me feedback saying, "Slash sux and you sux and slash is sick and you are sick you need help."* Please note that I am not the one reading a LJ named after and filled with stuff that, by my own account, makes me sick, so I have to suspect a misdiagnosis on your part.
* Quotes are mostly sic, but I did correct capitalization in certain cases so as not to strike readers blind. A secret message from me to people who need it: while I appreciate your desire to implement capital letters, they are not something you can simply toss into your writing at random. They are really only appropriate in certain locations. If you are unaware of that, please stop writing, for all our sakes. Thank you.