What is your claim to flame?
Flaming studies often argue that the assumed paucity of social cues in online environments leads to disinhibition and increased flaming online. Other studies empirically challenge the idea that flaming behaviors are an inevitable by–product of computer–mediated communication. Nevertheless, both camps share the view that a category of social phenomena called “flaming” exists and it is possible to determine what constitutes a “flame” by examining message content. Yet “flaming” is an oversaturated term that ignores the interactional nature of both flames and flame claims. Importantly, flame claims, in which interlocutors accuse others of “flaming” are just as important to study as so–called flames. Rather than determining whether a particular message is or is not a “true flame,” researchers should examine the interplay between flames and flame claims to understand how particular groups establish, negotiate, and challenge both cultural norms and micro–social hierarchies.
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