Getting flamed

You’re never going to please everybody in a job like this.; sometimes you intensely displease somebody. And so Tuesday’s Yahoo Tech column unpacking Apple’s WWDC announcements yielded an e-mail Wednesday from a reader with the subject line “Hater.” Here we go, I thought:

You are such an Apple-hater, it’s disgusting. I’m glad the Washington Post fired you. Your tech coverage sucked there. I stumbled across you today on Yahoo. Now I’ll know where to avoid you in the future.

FlamesThat kind of spittle-flecked invective goes by the name of “flaming” (or at least it once did; what do the kids call it these days?). Fortunately, it arrives exceedingly rarely and is vastly outnumbered by non-flame mail. The very next e-mail from a reader Wednesday began: “Glad to have found you on Yahoo Tech. I used to look forward to your Washington Post columns.”

(Note also that my possession of a Y chromosome makes my inbox easier to deal with. As in, I don’t have cretins expressing their disagreement with rape threats.)

And yet. A message like that requires some sort of response, and one of my character flaws is the pleasure I take in crafting a politely snarky reply–one that can withstand publicity if my cranky correspondent thinks posting it online will help his cause. So after reciting a certain line about customers from “Clerks,” I wrote back to note my history of buying and using Apple products (see, I’m a self-loathing hater!) and of complimenting them when warranted. I closed with an observation and a suggestion:

But my overall evaluation of this company’s work—or any other’s—is not a binary state. I am capable of appreciating some things it does while finding fault with others to come up with an assessment that’s neither 0 nor 1 but somewhere in between. I’m sorry you seem to be having trouble with that concept.
BTW, if you’re going to accuse somebody else of being a “hater” you might not want to delight in another person’s unemployment.

Will it persuade my reader? Maybe. About half the time I send back a civil response, the other person realizes they were talking to a fellow human being, not a thumbnail image on a Web page, and apologizes. The other half of the time, there’s no response. We’ll see how this one goes…

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3 thoughts on “Getting flamed

  1. Wow, all these years of reading your column and knowing how helpful you have always been to your readers, I can’t believe you get stuff like this. You have done too much good so let stuff like this go. I bought my first Windows-based computer based on your advice and never looked back. Some folks take things a little too seriously, glad you don’t.

  2. Life is too short to deal with people like that. I wouldn’t grace this person with a reply. Keep doing what you do so well…

  3. Always enjoyed your work and was disappointed when you left the Post and glad to have found you elsewhere. The WWDC post was interesting, although to be honest I don’t really agree but I know what you’re getting at. I personally get frustrated when I can’t use all my great Apple wonders with some of my family and friends, but I tend to blame them for not being cognizant enough to buy the right products, rather than at Apple for inventing great things that they don’t allow to be used to improve competitor’s products.

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