Two Strategies To Use When You Are Attacked For Your Choices

'Flame Wars' exist online and off --- here's how to snuff one out.

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Photo by Patrick Viau

The tricky thing with flame wars, they could happen in any environment. It’s quite easy to manage it if you already know you’ll likely be attacked for your views. But what if you were expecting to walked into a safe place, then suddenly someone hurls a doughnut at you….and no one else in the room speaks up?

I’m not sure if getting a piece of pastry flung at me would have been better than what I experienced when I visited a community in Reddit (aka ‘a sub’) that focuses on a show on AMC called ‘Better Call Saul‘.

I got excited when I realised what the sign-off at the end of the podcast episodes indicated and proceeded to share my discovery (that it was from the Saul ad webisodes) and asking the community if I missed anything else, since I was not a ‘Breaking Bad’ viewer.

I was quite shocked on the kind of judgement I received after I mentioned that I wasn’t a ‘Breaking Bad’ viewer. Then when I got vulnerable (mixed with a bit if lightheartedness)…the user accused me of being sarcastic.

I decided to try the philosophy of not throwing hate back when given it…and see if there was something salvageable about where this person is taking the discussion…but looks like the user was hell-bent on picking bits of what I wrote to a kind of twisted narrative. So instead of understanding that I was worried that other ‘Breaking Bad’ viewers would give me abuse…and as a result…I’d have to abandon my handle, the narrative in that user’s mind still saw it as me saying: ‘you abused me!’


Oh well…

“Leigh, what do you expect from Reddit!? It’s mostly populated by the ‘under-25s‘ and people who despite their age…and think like acting like a jerk is okay.”

I hear you. I should have known right?

Thing is, I was quite smitten by the show. I knew ‘Breaking Bad’ wasn’t a fit for me (by then I created a rule around my viewings) and would hear news about the show gaining new fans as the years went on. I’d hear a story of at least one of my buddies get into the show because a passionate viewer loaned them their DVD set.

I’m not exactly sure how I heard about the spinoff, and one day found myself looking at a DVD of Season 1 while browsing a local library’s film selection. I rejoiced when I saw that the Season was not rated MA (like ‘Breaking Bad’), instead it was one notch lower.

I saw episode after episode…but had a slight reluctance to give myself over completely (as I knew what the future held for Jimmy…at least one that is within the ‘Breaking Bad’ timeline). I think it was listening to the DVD commentary that won me over: the humour and the feeling of camaraderie between the crew.

My defenses were down coming into that subreddit, mistakenly thinking that the kind of respect (maybe a bit of ribbing!) would carry over to fellow viewers as well….

Two reminders I’ll be carrying around for the next time:

#1 – Put on hold the need to explain yourself and focus on the other person

My first reply could have been: “Wow…you sound quite passionate about ‘Breaking Bad’. What do you think it is about the show that you like the most?”

Find questions that would help you understand their point of view better.

#2 – Don’t respond

Tried and tested. Harness that energy to resist responding in any way. I directed my energy to write a draft of this post. 

I mean…I would have liked to mention the fact that the comment was judging me (based on what I’ve written — you’re telling me my decision is a failure?)…but that is how you feed the behaviour of someone that has chosen a mindset of constructing a reply designed to elicit a negative reaction. Yep…also known as ‘trolling’.

Just remember no matter what platform you’re on. Don’t feed that behaviour. If you have enough patience to be kind despite the other person showing you unkindness…limit it to one reply.

There is also one small thing you can do is report the user’s bad behaviour. I was surprised why Twitter’s reporting was not able to save Justine Sacca from people who do not share the same (MA) type of humour that she had and proceeded to hurl obscenities at her. Unlike Steemit, Twitter and Reddit’s reporting system is still anonymous.

Another thing I noticed with those who have got their focus correct…is they rarely respond to comments unless they know it’s a good investment. I’m going to remind myself to do this too…as energy is a limited resource! Gotta make sure I invest it in the projects (and people!) that align with my values.

Coming across this recently probably helped me a bit too! 🙂

PS: If you were looking for the detail in the thread I created, I’m guessing one of the moderators took it out to prevent anyone else to be tempted to reply negatively.

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