What starts out in a thread as “I think X is better-looking” would later evolve into “you don’t know anything, you are ugly!!” A discussion about the latest album from a favorite idol group would evolve into a debate on cultural differences between the East and the West, with the conclusion that one is an ignorant imperialist buffoon. A healthy exchange of opinion would inevitably result in one being compared to a Nazi. This is what we refer to as flaming.
Flaming happens when a discussion between two or more netizens turn into a lengthy argument featuring hostility and baseless accusations, often personal and insulting in nature. Instead of discussing the original topic, the discussion would veer off track and turn into personal attacks. Flaming can stem from discussion of real world issues (politics, religion, etc) to the more mundane (which came first, the chicken or the egg?). While flaming can be unintentional, there are people who incite flames (flamers) by posting flamebait (texts or images to provoke anger or highly opposed opinions). Flaming should be differentiated from trolling, where trolls are more obvious in their instigation. Flaming is also more direct and personal. However, deliberate flamers, like trolls, often have the target of starting a flame for entertainment at the expense of others.
Sometimes, flaming, sarcasm and just plainly posting a contrary view can be confused. The responses of others could also be misread and misunderstood, with the replier being labeled as a troll or a flamer. In a forum I frequent to get the latest news about my other life (read: kpop), readers post comments, witty and oftentimes scathing, all in the name of good fun. When someone reacts to a comment (that the original poster intended to be funny and sarcastic) negatively, the usual reply would be “stay pressed” or “butthurt”. People in that forum are not expecting members to be too serious or sensitive to the opinion of others. Always, the defense is freedom of speech. But sometimes, the butthurt responses would elicit more butthurt, which would turn into a free for all flaming war, and eventually end up in one or more members being banned. Suddenly, it’s all srs bsns. The good thing about that forum is that flaming is moderated and users cannot hide behind anonymity. The same cannot be said for other sites, where the lines between flaming and freedom of speech are always put to test.
Questions are always posed as to the differences between deliberate flaming or really just expressing an opinion in a controversial, passionate manner (and sometimes, overreaction). Freedom of speech is always invoked, even by deliberate flamers (see rule number 9 and 24). A line has to be crossed somewhere, where a comment or a response is not categorized as butthurt anymore. Expressing or defending your opinion is allowed (and even the use of creative colorful language is permissible), but not when it comes to a point of personally attacking and insulting other people.
Krystel Jehan M. Bautista, entry no.9