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[at-l] The Anatomy of Flame Wars (was: Evidence Of TrailplaceEffectiveness)



Jim, I have carefully read your post, and it is pretty obvious to me now that
you hate me.

Therefore, I think you are a jerk Go take a hike.

- Gary from Fairfax

PS: Can I go too?

Jim Mayer wrote:

> As everyone (I think) knows, I am thoroughly tired of the whole WF topic, so
> this post has little to do with Wingfoot or RoksnRoots.  What it does have
> to do with is communication, or, if you prefer, miscommunication.  I could
> just have well used Linda's adventures in recipe posting, but this not
> happened to come along.
>
> Here's a question: what are the chances that I could say ANYTHING meaningful
> to a group of several hundred people and have all of them:
>
> (1) understand what I said.
> (2) understand the tone in which it was written.
> (3) agree with me.
>
> I think the chances are near zero.
>
> Ok... so suppose I make a post:
>
>     From: Jim
>     Subject: [at-l] The sky
>
>     The sky is blue!
>
> Now, what I really meant was "It is a beautiful day outside here in
> Rochester, NY.  It's been overcast for the last week, and I'm really looking
> forward to some nice weather."
>
> So, somewhere out there in netland, say Atlanta, Orangebug reads my post [by
> the way, Orangebug has nothing to do with this post... I'm just pretty sure
> that he'll get it and won't mind my using his name].  He is kind of tired
> and bummed out after a long day at work.  On top of that, he just read the
> weather forecast for the weekend... a tropical storm is going to dump twelve
> inches of rain right where he was planning to go hiking.  His trip is a
> washout.  He sends a reply:
>
>     From: Orangebug
>     Subject: Re: [at-l] The sky
>
>     Posts like yours make me sick.
>
> Now, what he really meant was "The weather's lousy here and I'm really
> bummed out about having to cancel my trip.  I wish it was nice here too!"
> He may even have realized that he should have stuck on a smily face, but
> what's done is done.
>
> Ok... now I see Orangebug's post.  I don't know how he was feeling.  I don't
> know the weather in Atlanta.  All I know is what I see.
>
> I have several choices:
>
> (1) Boy, Orangebug is upset about something today.
> (2) Orangebug is a jerk.
> (3) Orangebug hated my post.
> (4) Orangebug hates me.
> (5) The AT-L hates my post.
> (6) The AT-L hates me.
> (7) There was something really wrong with my post.
> (8) The weather is nasty in Atlanta and Orangebug's hike got cancelled.
>
> My choice depends on my mood, my previous interactions with Orangebug, and
> my relation to the entire list.  Knowing Orangebug (or at least having seen
> his posts), I'd probably settle on #1.  But suppose I'm a new poster, am not
> familiar with the list, and am not feeling particularly confident... I might
> settle on #7.  Suppose I've had a lot of nasty interactions with Orangebug
> in the past... I might pick #2.  Suppose I've been engaged in a controversy
> with many people on the list, I might pick #5, or even #6.
>
> The chances of my picking #7 is pretty small.  Suppose I pick #3 or #4.  I
> send a message:
>
>     From: Jim
>     Subject: Re: [at-l] The Sky
>
>     You are always knocking people down.  Go chill out and take a hike.
>
> What I mean is "I feel hurt right now.  I was feeling good about our
> beautiful weather, and when you told me that my post 'made you sick' I lost
> that feeling.  I would like you to be careful of my feelings when you send
> me messages."
>
> Orangebug is going to have to be feeling very centered today to have any
> chance of figuring out what I was really trying to say.
>
> Back to the list.  Linda's recent recipe problem sounds like she did a #7
> above.  Actually, I have no idea what is going on in Linda's head!  She
> could be new to lists and really think that there was something wrong with
> her post.  She could be trolling for sympathy.  I don't know, but since I
> don't I'll choose to assume the #7.
>
> I would guess that when RoksnRoots said "the AT*L response" in response to
> Saunterer's post, he was doing a #6.  Of course I don't know that, but he
> HAS been at the center of a flame war lately, so it seems like a good bet.
>
> My personal opinion is that both RoksnRoots original "Evidence of Trailplace
> Effectiveness" and Saunterer's response were honest posts.  I think that
> RoksnRoots has not demonstrated an understanding of why so many people on
> the AT-L have lost their respect for Dan Bruce.  I also think that
> Saunterer's post was almost guaranteed to provoke a heated response, and I
> practically KNOW that RoksnRoots latest post will provoke one.
>
> Look at the language.  Saunterer said "But there's no point in restating it
> all.  You're obviously still not listening."  YOU'RE OBVIOUSLY STILL NOT
> LISTENING!  Does that make you want to listen?  Or do you feel attacked?
> Why would you even want to listen to someone who's attacking you?
>
> Look at the language.  RoksnRoots said "I find it unbearably dishonest..."
> and "It is obvious to me that no possible...".  Is Saunterer likely to
> respond positively when he's just been called dishonest and unreasonable?
> Actually, when RoksnRoots goes on to talk about the "AT*L response" he is in
> danger of having lots of people on the AT-L feel like he just called them
> dishonest and unreasonable.
>
> This message is way too long, so I'll end it by listing "Jim's unordered
> observations about communication":
>
> (1) Ryan's five minute rule is a good one.
> (2) Don't assume that other people know what you are feeling.
> (3) Realize that there may be multiple interpretations of posts and spend
> some time figuring out what they are.  It's more fun that doing crossword
> puzzles!
> (4) Don't make assumptions.  Ask questions.
> (5) If someone's post bothers you write about your own feelings, not about
> "what they did wrong."
> (6) Go look up "I Statements" and continue looking until they make sense.  I
> just took a quick look and like the page
> http://home.earthlink.net/~hopefull/i-statem.htm .  It has a nice, four
> part, way of formulating them that I've seen elsewhere as well.
> (7) Remember that "I think you are a jerk" is not an "I statement!"
> (8) "Honesty" does not imply a disregard for other people's feelings.  I've
> seen too many people use the "truth" of their statements to excuse the hurt
> that they cause.  It is almost always possible to tell the truth in ways
> that are respectful of peoples feelings.
> (9) People use more than words to communicate.  They use body language,
> facial expressions, tone of voice, and probably pheromones for all I know to
> get their meaning across.  Only the word show up in email.
> (10) People can communicate because they develop a mental model of what the
> other person is saying and feeling.  We do this so naturally that we aren't
> even aware of it.  The down side is that if the mental model is wrong it is
> almost impossible to figure out what the other person is saying.
> (11) Without body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and maybe
> even pheromones it is very easy to get the model wrong.
> (12) Many of the techniques of formal writing arose to compensate for the
> lack of body language, etc. in written communication.  That's why written
> language and spoken language are so different.
> (13) Remember that email is written communication, even though it feels very
> informal and immediate.
> (14) Irony does NOT come across well in email posts.
> (15) Smily faces are helpful, but are not a replacement for courtesy and
> well thought out writing.
>
> Yours longwindedly,
>
> -- Jim
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: <RoksnRoots@aol.com>
> To: <bullard@northnet.org>
> Cc: <AT-L@mailman.backcountry.net>
> Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2001 12:59 AM
> Subject: Re: [at-l] Evidence Of Trailplace Effectiveness
>
> > In a message dated 6/18/01 8:25:12 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
> > bullard@northnet.org writes:
> >
> > << I get similar replies to letters that I write directly to my
> >  congressmember, senator, etc.  I can't remember how many times I've "made
> a
> >  real difference".  That doesn't mean that I can claim or deserve sole
> >  credit (or blame, depending on your point-of-view) for the outcome.  It's
> >  called courtesy.  You write nice letters to supporters thanking them for
> >  their assistance.  Again, you're missing the point.  No one said he did
> >  nothing.  But there's no point in restating it all.  You're obviously
> still
> >  not listening. >>
> >
> >     I'm tired so I'll try and answer. I find it unbearably dishonest to
> > demand proof, then get it, and still come up with the same old denials
> that
> > were answered to by the begged proof. I appears that Wingfoot could come
> down
> > off the mountain with Abraham Lincoln's ghost vouching for him and the
> AT*L
> > response would be that he faked it. It is obvious to me that no possible
>
> <snip>
>
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