Friday, March 25, 2011

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Flame Wars.  I am a veteran of a few internet flame wars and I’m none too proud of some of the tactics I’ve taken.  My "IRL personality" is decidedly non-confrontational so it would probably surprise my friends to read some of the things I have written in the heat of the moment [pun intended].  It is the relative anonymity of the internet, I believe, that emboldens people with the conviction that they can say anything they want to other anonymous people on the internet.  I am guilty of this so this is by no means meant to be a holier-than-thou post.  

I often wonder if others are entertained by these type-written tiffs?  I can see the appeal, to a point, but far too often they cross a line and it becomes a glorified “I know you are, but what am I?” kind of argument or it simply devolves into petty name calling.  It’s why I don’t wear my xBox head set while playing Call of Duty.  The trash talking isn’t fun to me.  Probably because I’m the one getting shot up all the time . . . but also because it’s just a constant barrage of negativity.  I imagine that people who go to a forum or blog to read something would rather get something useful out of their experience than wade through a volley of character assasinations.

When I first found the forums at I was amazed at the near total lack of flame wars.  That’s not to say there was never any disagreement or arguments over there because there were some pretty epic falling outs -- especially when the company was sold to Internet Brands and they ousted Dave.  But for the most part you could respond to a discussion or pose a question and expect to receive polite and helpful responses.  I’m generalizing here, but the online gardening world has always been a more genteel arena.  So I was surprised to find myself knee deep in an unexpected dispute with a fellow poster following Trey Pitsenberger’s blog the other day. 

After a good night’s sleep though I am happy to say that cooler heads have prevailed and for the first time in my life, I have accepted an apology from someone I don't even know and given an apology for my part in one of these wars.  Also, for the first time in my life, I can understand how others have felt a new sense of respect for their opponent.  In a span of less than 24 hours I went from thinking this guy was a grumpy old codger to now understanding that he’s just a passionate gardener that likes to shoot from the hip sometimes.  I can deal with that.  I can identify with that, in fact.   

My take away: given the right conditions, a little patience, and a healthy dose of cool water, gardens aren’t the only things that grow out of scorched earth.     

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