OxBlog

Saturday, July 15, 2006

# Posted 6:08 PM by Taylor Owen  

IRRESPONSIBILITY OR ANONYMITY?: Andrew Brown asks why people are such jerks online? Although he suggests it's because they are trying too hard to be journalists, his wittiest answer is unquestionably that: "we can type much faster than we can think." TGA weighs in as well, with frustration:
To find these buried nuggets you have to take an exhausting five-mile trek through a seemingly endless swamp of views - some intelligent, others stupid, some well-informed, others ignorant, some polite, others abusive. How could the trek be made easier and more rewarding?
For what its worth, he concludes that user ranking systems are good and that real names should be strongly encouraged. I think that comment ranking can be useful on the bigger sites, although it is still limited by linearity, and am willing to accept anonymity as part of the medium.

Of course, the questioning of anonymous comments and the journalistic role of bloggers are both age old battles. As wiser ones than I have said:
Arguing with anonymous people on the internet is like wrestling a pig in the mud. You both get dirty, but only the pig enjoys it.
and,
We’ve said it a hundred times, and we’ll say it again: Until we brush our teeth, change out of our pajamas, and leave the goddamned apartment for the sake of a story, blogs aren’t going to replace journalists. We’re just going to tease them.
(7) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments:
I believe there's something like a weak anthropic principle at work - blog comments are as churlish as they are because the people who have positive outlooks and good social skills tend to out using them. Its the angry confrontational people who've alienated all those around them who have no outside social oulets and nowhere else to go that have lots of time to comment negatively.

Without structural safegaurds and/or moderators they chase away the positive comentors, too.

Which has n-o-t-h-i-n-g to do with why I happen to be sitting alone at a computer on Saturday night ...
 
Digging through internet nonsense to find what is worthwhile is just anothet set of skills that most people will pick up with time. Technology might help, but it is mostly about becoming familiar with the medium.
 
"I believe there's something like a weak anthropic principle at work - blog comments are as churlish as they are because the people who have positive outlooks and good social skills tend to out using them. Its the angry confrontational people who've alienated all those around them who have no outside social oulets and nowhere else to go that have lots of time to comment negatively."


Oh yeah?! Well, you're short!!!!!
 
I'll take typing speed faster than thinking speed here.

It's happened to me.

Also, I'd go off and say that because of pseudo-anonminty, it's seen as a "safe" place to vent nasty thoughts.
 
To find these buried nuggets you have to take an exhausting five-mile trek through a seemingly endless swamp of views - some intelligent, others stupid, some well-informed, others ignorant, some polite, others abusive.

Very true, though the same can easily be said of the (broadly-drawn) MSM. God knows there is enough dreck in the commercial media, and the self-styled "independent" media for that matter
 
Seanbaby nailed it many years ago:

"Internet forums bring out the worst of humanity: stupid irrational egomaniacs telling each other how much they hate everything. Getting bothered by it is like reading 'FUCK YOU' on a bathroom wall and saying, 'Fuck ME!? H-how DARE they!!'
 
I think there's an additional element--when we speak, a lot of information is conveyed through signals other than words. Intonation, pitch, etc. add to the message by helping the listener interpret those areas where the words can be taken in multiple ways.

I know I've written things that were meant ot be funny, or at least harmless, but, after rereading them later, realize they could also be taken as snarky, dismissive, or insulting. On the reader side, I think there is a tendency to over-react to perceived slights because the comment section has a reputation for rudeness.

So limitations of language are fed through defensive filters, creating an atmosphere that appears to be more hostile than it really is, and that appearance all too often becomes reality through increasingly bitter exchanges.
 
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