Odd Nostalgia

I miss flame wars.  (Weird thing to say, I know, bear with me…)

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard that term, or seen it used in any fashion to describe something happening online.  So long, in fact, that I wonder if I need to define it because there may be some reading this who are not familiar with the term at all:  A lengthy exchange of angry or abusive messages between users of an online forum or other discussion area.(src)

But wait, you say, that definition doesn’t sound unfamiliar.  Not at all in fact.  That kind of thing happens – well, it happens all the time.

Exactly.  That’s just it.

I don’t miss flame wars per se, and I certainly don’t miss the animosity and the vitriol, I miss the fact that they used to be rare enough, confined enough, and specific enough that they had their own term to differentiate them from the more ‘normal’ online interactions.

There were certain topics that were known to be flamebait.  Or occasionally a thread may strangely devolve into a flaming pile, full of hyperbole, personal attacks, and back and forth screaming.  But they were outliers.  Today, it seems that just about everything can, and often does, devolve to that level.  It’s so ubiquitous that we’ve lost the need for any specific name for it.  It’s just “the comment section.”  Or “Twitter.”  Or “Tuesday.”  Post you don’t like a certain kind of cake?  Look out…

So that’s really what I miss (while fully acknowledging all the rose coloured glasses effect that goes along with nostalgia):  A time when flame wars were flame wars, and there was still a greater chance than not for good faith discussions.  Discussions that might well become quite heated, but nonetheless remained squarely in that realm.

 

* To give an example, there’s this one online forum for D&D that I occasionally frequent… my usual thing is to read the first page or two to get a sense of the discussion, then jump to the last few pages to see what consensus seems to be forming.  Or, at least, that’s what I envision.  Instead, those last few pages have typically become five random posters hurling barbs and insults back and forth ad nauseum.  Most unfortunate.

Quote of the Day

“I saw Activision’s statement about why they “broke up” with Bungie over at GameSpot, but it’s like…  more than seven billion wasn’t “enough” according to the onyx spire they worship.  I don’t think they can be trusted to determine what constitutes enough.

I own a company, I understand that they have to make money, but the top of that organization is completely divorced from every other part of it.  It’s sick in the particular, unaccountable way that is an accelerant to revolution.  The people who generate the wealth they bathe in are so abstract as to be inconceivable.  I have some experience with this; there are people who will pulp you to get a “good year.”  One hesitates to suggest that they serve Evil Gods, you know, far be it from me to make a moral pronouncement, but their purposes are inimical to human flourishing.  The human being, essentially considered fungible and endlessly replaceable in its capacity to generate value, exists nowhere in their calculus.

The parable of the golden goose has endured for a reason, and that is because none of these motherf’rs ever seems to learn it.”

Tycho (from Penny Arcade)