The Art of Flaming

by Ivan Vasilev

The Art of Flaming requires much consideration and skill. An artful and joyful flame, that brings much happiness to the readership is rare nowadays. That's because most people flame without a clue about how to do it right. They are like elephants walking through a flower-bed. Below, I outline few of the rules that make a flamer's career long and fruitful. I hope to be of use to yo'all.

Don't make it personal

That is the first and the most important rule. Make it personal means that when you flame a person, you mean particular her. You concentrate on personal traits, characteristics and individual thoughts and ideas. That's bad. That's distasteful. That's ineffective. Think of that person as someone anonymous, someone without a name, someone that doesn't really exist. Think of her as a virtual representative of a whole group of other people. Then flame! Now, when you flame, you're flaming those particular thoughts and ideas and not her in specific. Thus, your flame is much stronger and much potent, now that it is directed to a much large number of people (those who share her thoughts and ideas). If you flame her, you only flame her. If you flame her ideas, you flame everyone who shares those ideas. As a good flamer, you should try to accomplish the most with the least. Thus, rather than concentrating on Nancy Clark, then on Joe Blow, then on Mickie Hart etc.... and lose precious time and resources, you simply flame Nancy Clark's ideas and by extension you flame also Joe Blow and Mickie Hart and whoever else. See, that's the art in it!

The positive in that approach is that now you're arguing matters of principle. You're discussing the subject at hand. You're actually on topic. The fact that Nancy Clark is a fat, st00pid bitch (as it may happens) is very much irrelevant to the fact that she maybe an Aiki-fruity. So, when you flame her, don't say - you, st00pid, fat Nancy! you, fruitie! No. That's bad. That doesn't cut it. You flame all the fruities at once and thus you achieve maximum effect. But there surely are aiki-fruities who aren't fat, who aren't dumb and who aren't bitches. Thus, you can't allow yourself to be restricted to particular traits. You flame on principle and you flame on topic. That means, you clearly realize that Nancy ain't got nothing to do with it. If it isn't Nancy, it would be Joe and if isn't Joe, it would be Mickie. You flame neither in specific. But you flame all of 'em at once!

The negative of that approach is that you make a lot of enemies. Hence, many weak souls that lack honor and principle flame exclusively on personal grounds. Thus, they avoid pissing off everyone else, while still defending their views. What they seem to be saying is: even though I don't share these particular views and ideas, I would flame only Nancy since I like to be friends with everyone else. That's bullshit. An honest, respecting herself flamer would never do this. You stick to principles and you defend a cause. That means, you flame thoughts and ideas and those who carry them should feel free to get pissed.

One shall NOT flame when:

1. The opponent is too dumb or too helpless or too new to know any better. In this instances flaming shows poor judgment skills and disregard to your lesser gifted brothers and sisters. It's just wasting precious energy on unworthy person. Being the object of a flame should be a privilege one needs to earn! I often hear the comments: blah-blah "... even though I know I will be flamed [by Ivan]..." blah-blah. The dumbass doesn't realize that she needs to work on the right to be flamed and that just because she says some idiotic thing, it doesn't mean that anyone will pay attention to her. People just love to give themselves undue credit.

2. The opponent is trying to draw you into a "flame war". Flame wars are for idiots. There's no art, no skill and no thought in it - just a bunch of idiots calling each other names. You don't want to be associated with idiots. Thus, if a flame turns into a "flame war", (Ki Wars, Ukemi Wars, etc.)avoid that thread altogether. Throwing insults (often of personal nature) at each other is very bad manners and you wanna stay as far away from this thing as possible. Flame wars draw in people who have no control. And lemme tell you, the name of the game is CONTROL!

3. One is constipated, in her period, has recently had a car accident, had drunk more than two six-packs (without the benefit of any food intake), has his underwear bunched up in the crack or is otherwise pissed off and undisposed. In these precarious conditions, one has poor judgments and clouded mind. Flaming requires pure heart, clear mind and cheerful disposition. Any negative emotions spoil the flame and turn it into some kind of a grudge contest or even worse, a flame war.

4. You have achieved supreme flame mastery. That is, you don't flame when silence can be actually constructed as a flame. It is the flame_of_no-flame, which is the ultimate flame. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. Sometimes, when you're really, really good, people get more pissed at you (feeling being flamed) simply because you don't reply. :-)) (I remember receiving an extremely emotionally charged e-mail demanding to know how come I don't respond to him and what's that all about. I was very amused, needless to say.) That's the ultimate! When you're able to flame without actually flaming, you're a true master. When you're a true master, the activity itself looses any meaning and brings little joy. I mean, you're so good at it that simply the thought of being able to flame the opponent to ashes gives you the satisfaction your soul needs and just refrain from flaming. Most people should shy away from number four though, since very few are blessed with mastery.

If you observe these four simple rules, you'll never flame inappropriately.

Otherwise, the rule of thumb is: flame as often as possible!