Why Is Everyone on the Internet So Angry?

This internet problem is highlighted by a Scientific American article where the authors write:
These days, online comments “are extraordinarily aggressive, without resolving anything,” said Art Markman, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. “At the end of it you can’t possibly feel like anybody heard you. Having a strong emotional experience that doesn’t resolve itself in any healthy way can’t be a good thing.”

A perfect storm of factors come together to engender the rudeness and aggression seen in the comments’ sections of Web pages, Markman said. First, commenters are often virtually anonymous, and thus, unaccountable for their rudeness. Second, they are at a distance from the target of their anger — be it the article they’re commenting on or another comment on that article — and people tend to antagonize distant abstractions more easily than living, breathing interlocutors. Third, it’s easier to be nasty in writing than in speech, hence the now somewhat outmoded practice of leaving angry notes (back when people used paper), Markman said.

And because comment-section discourses don’t happen in real time, commenters can write lengthy monologues, which tend to entrench them in their extreme viewpoint. “When you’re having a conversation in person, who actually gets to deliver a monologue except people in the movies? Even if you get angry, people are talking back and forth and so eventually you have to calm down and listen so you can have a conversation,” Markman said. Link.
I think people should keep these things in mind. I try to. I think DC does fairly well even though we debate some of the most dearly held beliefs that people have. No one's perfect and we cannot tolerate just anything though. I tend to be more aggressive as the years go by when dealing over and over and over and over with the same person or site. In most cases they have continually cheated in our discussions.

In any case, if we understand the causes of expressed anger on the internet we might be more inclined to maintain a better perspective when debating these issues. The most important thing to remember is how far we are apart from those whom we debate. We are world's apart in some cases, just as if we live on different planets.


Unknown said...

I think Penny Arcade says it even more simply than that; "person + audience + anonymity = total douchebag".