Why Is Everyone on the Internet So Angry?
By NATALIE WOLCHOVER & LIFE'S LITTLE MYSTERIES - SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN
Added: Thu, 26 Jul 2012 14:05:49 UTC
A perfect storm engenders online rudeness, including virtual anonymity and thus a lack of accountability, physical distance and the medium of writing
With a presidential campaign, health care and the gun control debate in the news these days, one can't help getting sucked into the flame wars that are Internet comment threads. But psychologists say this addictive form of vitriolic back and forth should be avoided — or simply censored by online media outlets — because it actually damages society and mental health.
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."
If it's so unsatisfying and unhealthy, why do we do it?
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. [Infographic: A Typical Day on the Internet]
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 told Life's Little Mysteries.
Read this article on the new RDF beta site
First Aid Kit - YouTube -... Comments
First Aid Kit - Hard Believer
Meagan Fitzpatrick - CBC News Comments
Scientists, concerned citizens hold mock funeral in Ottawa to protest federal cuts
Maia Szalavitz - TIME - Healthland 39 Comments
Do people with depression or other psychological problems have any moral obligation to forgo bearing children in order to avoid passing on their "bad" genes?
Laura Graff - Winston-Salem Journal 14 Comments
Protesters travel to speak against Pastor Charles Worley, who gave a sermon May 13 that suggested gay people should be rounded up, placed in a sort of concentration camp, and left to die.
Hemant Mehta - Washington Post 41 Comments
"The Internet is blind faith’s worst nightmare."
Katherine Stewart - Ms. blog 36 Comments
Just Say Yes…To Sexist Stereotyping?