E-mail humor: Flame formulas for fun


As the new year heats up with the lists customary misunderstandings I wanted to make a few suggestions so that we never have to go without. The list nearly died of neglect over the holidays when people went out of town and forgot to post parting shots at their favorite adversaries. Without those little arrows of rancor and wit the digital fires nearly expired and the communications depended on humor and sexual innuendo to keep any kind of passion in play.

In order to avoid such a bleak period again, empty of the juicier emotions and wittier, sharp edged repartee, I offer the following. The principles have been successfully tested time and time again as many of you have witnessed. Please feel free to draw on them when bored, feeling malicious but uninspired, when your self esteem needs a hit of self righteousness to get straight, or anytime youre in the mood for a brawl. The principles applied with thought, or especially without thought, are guaranteed to give you a rush of indignation and adrenalin. Develop your skill and you can enjoy not only the contest with its delicious sense of meaningful conflict but also the pleasure of crushing the opponents pride. (And how sweet it is.)

Make sure you bring up your views on abortion, capital punishment, Christianity, and the political party you least like, regularly. When you do so, do so with vigor, enthusiasm, and scorching wit. Who knows, you may eventually beat those who embrace the opposite (wrong) side of the argument into submission and they will convert to your views, thereby making the world a better place.

Refer to your opponents in arguments (or debates that hold the promise of becoming arguments) as facists as often as possible. Suggest that their views parallel the Nazis at least once in any good flame war.

Point out the shortcomings of the opposite gender. Use tasteless jokes. Base all characterizations of the opposite gender on the very worst traits of your ex or current spouse, or your ex or current love interest. If you havent personally been mistreated while remaining spotlessly innocent use other peoples histories.

When youve managed to get a good heated exchange going try to score points by using a vocabulary that will drive your opponent to the dictionary. Mock any attempts on their part to do the same. If possible humiliate them with ironic references to misspellings, ill conceived sentence construction, or, best, inappropriate word usage. Winning in this area makes you sexier.

Never apologize. If you make an error in thinking blame it on the muddy post to which you are responding. If you act like an idiot, a boor, a bore, or a whiner, do the same.

When inspired make sure you word your attacks and counterattacks so that you leave no opening for your adversary to capitulate to your view except in disgrace. Try to make certain that every avenue of response is a path of shame.

If you start to slip in an argument attack the person. Its most helpful to know something personal about them but the medium has restrictions in this area. I recommend keeping a catalog of stupid, awkward, or embarrassing posts that people make so you can throw them in their face later as proof of their deficiencies as a human.

If someone does the same to you respond that in their reliance on ad hominem attacks the argument has deteriorated to a level that no longer warrants your participation. This can be a winning blow if played properly. Be subtle here, and clever; try to convey the sense of your opponent as dim-witted, ethically degenerate, desperate, and outmanuevered by your overwhelming intellectual superiority. The real joy here is that you can neatly do away with any respect due your opponent, slander his character, lacerate his pride, and, if done properly and with elan, simultaneously represent yourself as a man or woman whose ethics and moral sensitivity make it impossible for you to do what you just did. This one is a real gem and when executed gracefully an act of art.

Remember that you are always right. And I do mean always. No matter what forces are marshalled against you, no matter how reasonable, humble, or generous, dont give an inch, dont be swayed. You are always right. Its the other side that caused this ruckus and keeps it going.

Always insist on the last word. The only honorable finish is unconditional capitulation by your adversaries or their defeated silence.

I trust that these guidelines will be of aid. I find myself too often relegated to the sideline carrying as I do the sandwich board for a business on my digital body. So onward comrades! Dont flag! Dont apologize! Draw out your rapier wit, your unshielded anger, your superiority, your sarcasm, your electric selves! Think of your great beauty as you weave back and forth, the words your blades. Eventually Ill get a second internet account and, being then anonymous and free of reflecting negatively on the business, will join you. How my blood cries out!

With envy,

Mark Dahlby


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