Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Open Discussion - Anonymous Anger

One of our readers suggested we do an open discussion on this article on CNN.com titled "#@*!!! Anonymous anger rampant on Internet" and written by Todd Leopold. It is an interesting article and definitely worth discussion. Please take the time to read this article but here are a few excerpts:
"One reason for the vitriol that emerges on the Web, experts say, is the anonymity the Internet provides. Commenters seldom use their real names, and even if they do, the chance for retaliation is slim."

"We've all had interactions with unpleasant people, but we don't confront them. We take it out elsewhere," he said. "What the Internet has created is groups of people where there are no repercussions with being too aggressive."

"As for adults, human nature dictates that people will always lash out at others, whether it's over a perceived insult or simply because of a power differential. Web sites may ban the worst offenders, but they'll almost always pop up elsewhere, using a different name, e-mail address or even computer."


scarfoot said...

I really struggle with this. I know online I can be more bold than I ever would be in real life. Plus, the benefit of being in a debate online is that you have time to think of a really good retort before you "zing" them. I think many people like to "vent" on the internet, because you can always find someone online that will take your side and support you, when perhaps in "real" life, you know that people around you wouldn't support your opinions.

That being said, I struggle with this because I don't want to conduct myself differently online than I would in real life. As we clearly see in the Gosselin issue, this anonymous anger issue can create some real life problems as well.

Saint said...

I know that when I first started posting, I was really hurt by some snarky responses. I have learned to re-read with as little emotion as possible. I am still irritated occasionally, but try not to SHOUT back too often. I tend to be most upset when I see another poster giving an honest opinion and someone who disagrees is demeaning or personal in response.

indianprincess said...

I try to conduct myself online the way I would in my real life. I have no reason to be mean and snarky to strangers on the internet. IMO I think this article shows people feel they have to be different online because they are missing something in their own life and have to vent out frustration to strangers so they feel validated some how knowing hurting someone will make themselves feel better. Imo..This is sad to me and it happens all the time online.

Guinevere said...

I think I'm myself online, but perhaps a slightly more aggressive version of myself than in person (I tend to be more aggressive driving - not in a jerkish, way, I don't think, but more in a "don't mess with me" way).

But I also try to be true to myself and ethical. I may not always be nice (I'm not always nice IRL, either), but I don't hide behind my online identity or use the anonymity to say things that I wouldn't say to anyone's face. I agree with scarfoot, it can be a struggle at times.

I think I struggle with not responding to baiting (which is true IRL as well, but I don't get baited IRL as often). It's hard not to give bitchiness when you feel (rightly or wrongly) like that's what you're getting from others. I find it instructive to look at how some of the "snarkier" members of the Gosselin blogosphere come off, and remind myself that I don't want to come off like that. There are times when you may feel that you're right, and that you have a right to behave a certain way, but if you take a step back and look at what you're writing, you have to acknowledge that probably 95% of people who read it will just think you're being a bitch; you won't convince anyone of the rightness of your opinion. Civility is not only the more morally correct behavior; I think it's the more persuasive behavior, as well (and yes, I'm aware that I don't always practice what I preach).

cincymom said...

It always shocks me when driving to see how quickly people flip up their fingers, even when there really wasn't a true traffic infraction. I think, "Would they actually do that if standing face to face to the other person?"

There definitely is something to anonymity lending aggressiveness.

Nina Bell said...

I receive quite a few comments that are very angry. They are always anonymous and they want to make sure we know what idiots we all are.

My husband tells me this goes on all the time in the sports world also on the blogs or message boards.

I have often wondered if people who vent and scream through their keyboard to make a point, receive the same release or satisfaction as people who do the same in real life. Or if it just makes them even more aggressive since they don't always get instant feedback (positive or negative) from another real life human.

Lizabeth said...

I think its unfortunate that people hide behind anonymity. Like you have all said, the internet is a bit of a mask anyway so why in the world would you have to be "Anonymous" instead of "this girl 1" or "mother of the year"? It amazes me that people can already have a certain amount of 'privacy' or anonymity with random screennames yet they still see the need to use anonymous.

Just like in real life, it boils down to personal responsibility. I don't put anything online that I wouldn't stand behind, or that would jeopardize my future career goals (and the goals of my future spouse, who is looking at getting into politics :)!). I am glad ya'll do not allow these kinds of anonymous comments- people need to actually stand up for what they are willing to type, instead of playing 'ding dong ditch'em' online...

Daisy said...

I think there is some of this going on in the J&K online world:

In August, The New York Times Magazine did a story about trolls, some barely out of their teens, who antagonize others for the sake of "lulz": "Lulz is watching someone lose their mind at their computer 2,000 miles away while you chat with friends and laugh," one ex-troll told the publication.

I have seen other forums where a group of people are snarking and then suddenly it's dead. You know they are off somewhere else laughing and planning their next move or even plotting their next lies in the J&K world.

Nina Bell said...


That happens here all the time. If you call them on it or reject their comments they cry "Fair and balanced by ass."

Their whole purpose is to make this blog look bad.
When the penn mommy thing was going on, we had some one who came to the board and stated "let's call the hospital and see if it is true." The comments were coming in by the droves that night and that comment was let through. We quickly realized that we should not have let it through and deleted it. There was one or two others that came through also. None of the comments were from our regular posters.

It was probably only a minute or two and those comments were copied and pasted over at Kate is a Shrew. Now you tell me that wasn't done on purpose. They knew exactly what they were doing and then they talked about it for the next week.

yeah me said...

Well this blog does suck!

jace said...

Very interesting article. I've been on various internet forums regularly since about 2001. I've had some great discussions but some of the nastiness and immaturity just boggles the mind.

There is something about the internet that can make grown women act like packs of teenage mean girls. The guys too.

I think the psychology of it is fascinating. It must give people power that they don't feel they have in their real life--to stir up trouble and sit back and watch it unfold or say the most vile or outrageous things that they would never think of doing off line.

Nina Bell said...

yeah me,

And there you go, right on cue. Are you related to JustME because I see you all over the internet creating problems. Maybe you could actually write in and let us know how you feel after you do the things you do. Does it give you some kind of power or boost to your ego that you don't get in real life? Were you picked on a lot growing up? Please let us know.

iluvobx said...

I have never been a fan of the "anon" on blogs. If you are bold enough to type it and send it, then you should be proud to put your "name" on it. I don't change my screen name as I am who I am with my opinions that I will gladly put my name to. Just don't understand why others can't.

Daisy said...

Nina bell said: "It was probably only a minute or two and those comments were copied and pasted over at Kate is a Shrew. Now you tell me that wasn't done on purpose. They knew exactly what they were doing and then they talked about it for the next week."

Sounds like cyber stalking to me. They must have someone watching GDNNOP 24/7 to pick up on anything they can bash.

Thanks for letting yeah me's post through so we can see what you are dealing with.

I've learning a lot about human nature through all of this and some of it isn't pretty.

merryway said...

I had put blogging on the same level as texting; something that was not for my generation. Now, my name is Merryway and I have been a blogger on J&K since Aug. I started out on GWOP. I thought it was the less petty site because it never mentioned this site. LOL

I had to do a reality check after I got angry when I first posted over here I see so many over-reactions on various boards. That's not my normal state at all, I can't speak for others. My question to myself was why did I come on the net in that mode of operation vs. how I would act in real life. I took all too personal. I had to shake it off and get real. It was just silly to me, on other boards it seems like a sport or hobby. All of the stalking talk still gives me the willies.

To a point, I can see how people could be emotional about this show since it involves children. The inet is a great place to vent. It bothers me how crazy posters are filled with hatred. Their sense of entitlement in the say-so of the children's daily lives is scary. I read a post somewhere else, I can't remember where, it was something along the lines of what would the haters do if they actual met J&K. Would they spit on them, hit them with sticks? I thought that was an appropriate question.

This is a little off-topic but along the same lines. There is a book and an afternoon special called The Wave that I had my kids read and watch. It was about a high school social experiment. A teacher broke down sects and created a new one. The teenagers followed blindly and he showed them how it was possible to be led into a Nazi-like regime. There are a lot of blind followers on the net and there seems to be a lot of mob-mentality. Hopefully, they only have virtual torches and pitchforks.

It's been a fascinating study so far.

GLO said...

I am actually less likely to let my emotions get away with me on the internet and say something I will regret, because I have to time to write my response and really think about what I am saying before I hit "publish." It's IRL that my mouth tends to get me in trouble!

Tyra said...

I think it's not just about the people who offend, but also the people taking offense. Just personally, I'm trying to have a thicker skin about others' responses to my opinions. I agree that there should be general civility, no name-calling. However, I think that a poster can respond vigorously to people they disagree with, and not have them respond that they are being picked on. I see that happen here (and other places) all the time.

For example, Guinevere on this blog 'speaks' very forcefully, yet I think she strives to engage in civil dialogue. She regularly gets wounded responses from some posters. I think it's a basic misunderstanding about debate and discourse. It should be okay for people to disagree strongly, to speak strongly.

One thing I have a hard time with is sarcasm; it gets my back up, and makes me feel like lashing out. I have to take a step back. I've been guilty of using it in the past (it's fun!), but now I think I understand that it's an unfair tactic: it has nothing to do with the argument at hand, and is simply a jab at the person you disagree with.

FIONA said...

I know for me personally, when I started blogging last Spring for the very first time, I took great amusement in rattling some chains and did some things that looking back I should not have.

Then I realized, everyone sitting at their computer is a person with feelings. And yes, sometimes the comments do hurt.

I have however seen as much good and fairness and bad and mean behavior.

Betty said...

I think the article makes excellent points and I've seen and been on the receiving end of people attempting to just get a rise out of me.

One thing that I found interesting in the comments was this one. the benefit of being in a debate online is that you have time to think of a really good retort before you "zing" them.

It's perhaps the thing about some of the commenters here that keeps me from posting more. I don't wish to debate or have someone sitting around thinking up ways to "zing" me and it does happen here. I prefer a more moderate form of discussion than debating. I thankfully don't find nearly as many debaters in RL as I do on the web.

scarfoot said...

I'd just like to clarify that I didn't mean that I personally want to "zing" people on the internet. I think that the sensation of doing this to others is something that some people enjoy online, because they would never do it in real life. In fact, when I wrote a review of the Gosselins book, I was very nervous to submit it to the blog for fear that people would yell at me. I'm an internet wimp!

I apologize for my poor writing!

roy said...

I find it very easy to contain any anger and respond with some rationality.
The Internet allows you to question, cross-question and research for answers.
But like e-mail, a reader is unable to see a reaction or hear a tone of voice, which leaves a lot of interpretation - or misinterpretation.

Betty said...

Thank you, scarfoot. I know you have never tried to pick apart anything I've written. You did just happen to express what has happened to me in the past.

Mom said...

Scarfoot -

You did a great job with the review. Your review made me interested in actually reading it. I hope to pick up a copy this weekend. :-)

Guinevere said...

It's perhaps the thing about some of the commenters here that keeps me from posting more. I don't wish to debate or have someone sitting around thinking up ways to "zing" me and it does happen here. I prefer a more moderate form of discussion than debating. I thankfully don't find nearly as many debaters in RL as I do on the web.

At the risk of being told I'm picking on you, I don't think that just because someone is disagreeing forcefully, they are necessarily trying to get a rise out of the other poster or zing them. I try not to be passive-aggressive when I post, because it annoys me in other posters. I'd rather be outright aggressive than play games.

I guess maybe *I'm* being too sensitive, but I sense a tone of censure in your comments. Maybe you are truly just talking about your personal preferences; I don't know. I don't particularly prefer a discussion where everyone agrees, and a discussion where people disagree but pussyfoot around their disagreements for fear of offending others isn't to my taste either. I don't like screaming and hurling invective, and I don't see the point of just stating your opinion but not expecting anyone to challenge or disagree with it.

So a format like GDNNOP's works for me. Most of the time, people are pretty civil, but they also aren't afraid of expressing their opinions forcefully. I think there are forums for all types on the internet, and it's just a matter of finding the right "home".

MommyZinger said...

All I know is that when I see people "go off" on a message board, I just skip over their comment. So if they want to be heard, they're not doing themselves any favors because I'm not listening. And I am sure others do the same.
Similarly, I find myself wanting to read the comments by posters who have always been civil and polite even during a heated debate. To me, those are people who are thinking straight and able to make valid points that contribute to a discussion.

Tricia said...

Is anyone else bothered by the posts on GWOP? they are sooo long, it takes longer to read them than to watch the show! And I find a lot of anonymous anger in those- anger that really seems to be displaced. They put so much time, attention, and emotion into every little detail of someone else's life!
Am I just being anal or does anyone else see it this way?

SamanthaNC said...

I think most of us see it that way!