The circle of foes closes in around me, watching my every movement for the slightest error. One misplaced step, one unnecessary blink, and they will pounce. They will pounce on me, fangs bared, ready to rip open my jugular as my blood as well as my dignity spill out onto floor I stand upon. I can't let that happen. There is simply too much at stake. One loss here is one loss for the cause. The cause needs me, and I will come to its aid! I will stand my ground, and I will fight outnumbered. I will fight my opponents if it takes years, and I will guard this cause with my life! I will never back down, and I will never admit defeat!
And when defeat is finally inevitable, I will summon my opponents with reconciliatory words and pacifist gestures. I will trade kind words and apologies. I will offer treaties, truces, and even friendships. And when I know that no matter how hard I try, and no matter what devious tactics I employ, my enemy will not falter, and before they can strike me down with their dastardly magical swords of flame, I will simply utter the magic words....
"This forum is so gay, I'm outta here."
The Flame War. It's a phenomenon unique to the Interwebs, and it is completely pointless. Anonymous forum members engage in
passive aggressive insults informed debate regarding anything from TV shows, to operating systems, to politics. Every party in the war believes that the other side is actually open to other opinions, and that they would ascribe to your cause if they would only listen, damn it!!
Sorry. Calming down now.
Flame war combatants fight as if the fate of the known universe depends on the outcome of the debate. If, for example, the flaming is regarding the PC vs. Mac (The ultimate and most epic flame war), the PC side will fight as if the consequence of losing is the actual domination of Macs in the real world. The Mac side will fight as if winning the war will cause the PC side to immediately throw their computers from atop their office building and go buy shiny new Macbooks, ushering in the dawn of the messianic age of computing. Oh, and in case you thought that actual intellectual debate transpires, you should stop thinking so much. It typically degenerates rapidly into "macs are for fags" and "I'm a Pc, and I suck ballzz."
Just to show how completely ridiculous flame wars can be, let me provide an analogy to clarify: One guy walks into a subway train and pronounces Heinz to be the best maker of Ketchup in the land. A complete stranger comes up to him and says "Well, I just had some Hunts, and it was pretty good."
The original commenter (The OP, in flame war-ese) looks at the stranger with a sneer of pure disgust and says "Are you f'ing kidding me? Have you ever even tasted Heinz ketchup? I can't believe you actually believe the lies they're spewing about the 'correct' way to make ketchup. It disgusts me every time they open their arrogant, lying mouths, and misinform innocent people about the ways of Ketchup. If you would ever open a f'ing book and read something you might understand that the Hunts company is just a front for the forces of corruption in the Ketchup industry. They are a danger to society, a menace to the Ketchup eaters everywhere, and they must be stopped before they do any more harm to our already struggling Ketchup economy."
Keep in mind we're in a crowded subway amongst total strangers.
"I'm just saying that I think there's some merit to Hunts ketchup. Can you at least acknowledge that? Plenty of people eat Hunts and they're not evil. Are you calling me evil?"
"O rly? Bring me one example where Hunts hasn't lied to the public. Anything. You pick. If you can bring me one example where Hunts has told the truth about any one topic, I will concede to you. Heinz Ketchup always tells the truth and is a consistently trustworthy source of Ketchup news, and if you say otherwise, then you're obviously just another mindless zombie brainwashed by the Hunts army."
At this point, a random passenger from the back of the train yells out "Hunts is for faggots!!! LOLzzzzzzzzz, your momz a gayfag!"
After hours of ruthless debate, and scores of mothers scorned on either side, the train stops at it's destination. At which point, the Heinz guy says,
"Oh, this is my stop. I have to go now, it's been a pleasure debating this with you. I really think you have some good points. However, those points are only valid if you believe in falsehood. I hope one day you will have the sense to see things from my point of view and realize that in the end, truth always wins." At which point he steps out of the train, not even knowing the Hunts guy's name.
You get the idea. No one cares, you're arguing with a stranger you will most likely never see again in the future, and the winner doesn't even win anything. Yet, you just argued for hours, as if the whole foundation of Ketchup manufacturing would stand or crumble based on this random subway encounter.
Knowing all that I know on the subject, how in the world did I manage to waste hours upon hours debating the sanity of Glenn beck with a total stranger? On a random forum? After hours of duking it out, outnumbered and tired, someone sent me a private message. The messenger basically said that he's tried to argue political debates in this forum many time before and he has since given up. He said it's futile, and that it causes more stress than satisfaction. And yet, I still argued. I didn't stop until I finally realized that it was indeed futile, pointless, and ultimately depressing to argue with strangers who don't want to hear what I have to say. So I left with "I have to work now, bye." Ungraceful, but effective.
Why did I let it go so far? Why couldn't I realize this from the get-go?
Well, simple. It's because I was right. Because g-d help me if I was going to let someone say I was wrong about something and let them get away with it. Because on the Internet, the only thing people really know about you is what you type into the ubiquitous white input boxes. Nothing else about you exists on the Interwebs. Not your body, not your house, and not your money. What you type online is who you are on the Interwebs. If someone says that what I'm writing is flawed, they are insulting my essential Interwebs self. If a stranger on a Subway says I'm wrong about something, I can shrug it off. I look better than him, I have more money hi, or my house is bigger than his. On the Interwebs, my opinions define me more than anything else, and I will defend that which defines me to the death! If you say I'm wrong, you are saying that which defines me is mistaken, and I can't stand for that! It's a lot harder to shrug it off, and that's why flame wars happen.
That being said....
I will unsheathe my flaming sword of diabolical purgatory and cut a swathe of flaming glory through the ranks of evil beings who oppose me! Like a stallion in heat, I shall brave the currents of evil to defend the righteous causes of all that is good and well in this world! To the front lines!