Regarding my Humble Apology for the Menage Á Trois that inflamed the Web with Vile Vilifications:
Absent this preface, what follows might deeply offend some individuals who were involved in an international flaming incident on December 31, 1999, for they might recognize themselves herein. I do not refer to a convention of flaming queens, but to the hysterical behavior of Internet users of all three genders and twenty-seven sexual orientations who completely wigged out, exhibiting mass paranoia of two types, both of which can be traced to uninhibited egoism: i.e., delusions of grandeur and/or persecution.
A virtual love-hate triangle at an undisclosed ezine site lost its bearings in virtual space, generating via exponential progression perverse waves of pompous vilifications and hurtful humiliations such as had never swept the Web theretofore.
I know because I was one-third of the original Menage Á Trois, the Flaming Queens who inflamed with world with vilifications. In fact, I made the misinterpreted remark that caused the original flaming incident to spread like wildfire. Hence I posted the pamphlet below to dampen the flame and to humbly apologise for the misinterpretation of my advice.
However, my misinterpretation was misinterpreted and the vilification campaign via private and bulk email doubled within hours--spam publicists picked up on the Flaming Queen Affair, and contributed to the gross outrage. Apparently, my "apology" was misconstrue d as a justification for the general discourtesy--to put it euphemistically--that I meant to publicly deplore. I had forgotten that an apology can be either a statement of regret or a justification--e.g., when Catholics write an apology for the blessed Pope, they mean to say he is Infallible in the Name of the Holy Trinity.
The flaming incident eventually burned out; the coals grew cold; there were countless casualties. I'm afraid irreparable harm was done to many surfers who once loved to point-and-click, then literally found themselves in mental hospitals. Of course there was no further injury to those perpetually infantile, virtually brain-dead nerds we call Juvenile Idiots, the postmodern version of Juvenile Delinquents--J.D.'s had not heard of virtual space, and therefore were limited to physical vandalism.
In retrospect, I wondered if I had really been the Main Contributing Factor to the ruckus that I thought I had caused when I wrote my Humble Apology. After extensive SELF-analysis, it occurred to me that novices on the Internet tend to over-react to the slightest symbolic stimulation. Many of us turned to the virtual world because something was lacking in our real worlds as we interpreted them.
"Interpreted" is the key word here; in other words, we brought our baggage with us, we applied our attitudes and prejudices towards ourselves and the real world to the almost-real or virtual world. What is "almost" about it? There are no physical constraints, no actual things and persons to immediately check our conduct. The freedom of the Internet was, for many of us, a prescription for unlimited neurotic behavior, especially for virtual hysteria which, of course, had its corresponding physical symptoms in front of the monitor that divides the worlds.
For example, when I first started receiving email and comments via the Net, I would very often flip out over some quite innocent remark, something I would think nothing of if it was said to my face. I confess that I even misinterpreted compliments as aspersions, whereupon I would instantly retaliate with keyboard tooth and claw.
I confess that I forgot there were real human beings like me on the other end of each communication. Of course there were the real jerks and the J.I.'s, but they are easily recognized and even more easily deleted; my greatest flaming incidents involved people with whom I had much in common, including--I admit it--my favorite virtues.
Furthermore, I am convinced one the biggest mistakes I made, besides projecting my own faults onto others, was my failure to draw a distinction between disagreement and courtesy.
End of lecture.
Flaming is not going to end just because I got wise to it (I reserve the right to retract that statement in the event my grandeur is not delusory). And maybe it should not end. Some of the best writing has come from such dynamic episodes where we are possessed by our own demons; I would not go so far to say that that is the "god-possession" of enthusiasm.
In any event, I believe it is wise to save the written rants and raves of flaming when they do occur, for they make an excellent resource for more sober but still amply inspired articles. One of the greatest mistakes I have made so far as a writer was listening to another writer's advice to "know what to throw away," and then throwing away something I had undervalued. If I had known better, I would have known not to throw anything away at all--so my advisor taught me a lesson after all, with bad advice.
But there must be a limit set on flaming. It has gotten so out of hand that "Netiquette" has become a major topic. Still, I would not extinguish the fire altogether. Therefore, I offer this pataphysical solution:
We must hire uniformed Cyber Slappers to periodically make the rounds and slap Internet Hysterics in their virtual faces every once in awhile, after, of course, they have produced their quota of hysterical works of art.
Now then, Ladies and Gentlemen, without further ado, I present one of my own hysterical productions for your hopeful amusement if not edification:
Dear World Wide Web Audience:
I take this opportunity provided by open publishing to apologise for some of the vile personal vilifications you may have recently received via your email facilities--in the event you are citizens of the United States, I apologize with a 'z' instead of with an 's.'
It appears that some recent public remarks I made, to the effect that venomous vituperations should be lodged with private persons by means of email, rather than by world-wide postings on the Web, was misconstrue d to be positive advice to engage in scurrilous behavior--I would say 'verminous' behavior, but that would be obnoxious.
As a result of my suggestion, intended to express a high moral sentiment otherwise given as the advice of God in sacred scripture, that if we have a beef with someone we should take him aside rather than chastise him in public, I now understand that many people are being literally reviled in their private email boxes, and that they are consequently eager for revenge.
Therefore yet again I do apologise. And I hereby urge all victims to belay their vindictiveness and to bethink themselves before they embark on the vicious circle inscribed by the talion principle.
I have due cause to suspect that one individual, fitting the description of a scapegoat for a universal vice, has resorted, in retaliation for jibes both real and imagined, to sending out vile formal email to everyone on her enemy-list, which now includes even some people she was once fond of, as follows:
"You vile slime, I believed in you, but now it is obvious you are a scum-bag who loves the smell of his own pong...et cetera."
I urge you, while you are bethinking yourselves, to forgive that woman for her inglorious defamation of character; for I happen to know it is actually based upon her formerly very high regard for people, her high expectations now sadly disappointed. Perhaps something we said elevated her hopes for the inevitable plunge from the ideal to the real. Falling short of the ideal is something we all have in common, so we should toss the free-floating angry email into the trash and welcome our scapegoat back into the species, perhaps being a little more considerate of her needs in the future. I do believe her intentions were originally honorable. She just wanted to do her thing and fit in somehow.
I regret that I unwittingly suggested that vile email be sent to you. I bespoke myself too loosely. I should have simply stated, "Do not publicly vilify private people on the Web." I should not have mentioned taking up such matters privately by email at all.
Again, I profusely apologise. None of this would have happened if I had not put on so many idealist airs in the first place, setting my then unknown critic up for a big let down. Her sensibilities assaulted, she then chose to launch a public personal attack against me, to which I responded with my moral advice. Now we have vile email vilifications going out almost at random.
Yes, those of us who write should certainly be more careful of how we speak, especially when we are using the figures of speech we are wont to employ. People can certainly get the wrong idea or ideal about us from our imaginative scrawling. I once described myself as a "free-spirit presently anchored in Hawaii", then I started receiving letters from ladies referring to my boat and my sailing adventures--I thought they had lost their minds until one of them made me eat my words. And I'll never forget that night when my formerly dearly beloved pulled out all my old love letters tightly bound with a string, and said, "You hypocrite!"
Indeed! And now this!
I am in fact to blame, as is usual when women are concerned. So I accept the blame for the vile email you may have just received. That is why I am finally eating humble pie here.
By the way, my latest critic has publicly implied that I act like Zeus. Come to think of it, she has a good point. I am fully aware of who is really to blame for everything on Earth from my self-exalted perspective on Mount Olympus, where I am the author of my own authority. And dear Hera has kept me faithfully apprised of my creative errors. Nonetheless, for example, I must have concourse with my nymphs to populate the Earth, and I must have congress with my goddesses for the sake of international intercourse. Call me mistaken, unfaithful, or a hypocrite if you will, but not evil, for necessity must occupy heaven. But please rest assured that, if I am Zeus, I still have my regrets.
In any case, please accept my humble apologies if you have received vile vilifications you do not deserve. If you have not, then be prepared.