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  1. #1
    / nonsequitur's Avatar
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    Default anonymity makes people deaf and hostile?

    Is it simply the "you won't be able to hit me across a computer screen" thing? Or does it have something to do with not associating a virtual persona with your own "self"?

    In my experience people tend to listen more when the conversation is held in person, and seek to understand more. Whereas on the internet, my experience has been that people simply use the internet as a tool to "get their voice out there". Because there are so many views to be heard, we get used to ignoring some voices and responding with hostility to others, without seeking to understand what the other person was really saying first.

    Sure, there are always trolls. But what worries me isn't the trolls who do it for the lulz. It's the people who are genuinely responding thoughtlessly without regard for whether or not it's appropriate.

    I'm starting to think that the internet and fora in general aren't effective communication media, or that because of the nature of interaction (anonymous), the quality shared is necessarily limited because there is no benefit to the individual to contribute.

  2. #2
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    I know what you're saying. That said, I think overall this forum is pretty good. I tend to ignore the threads that attract trolls and what I view as pointless banter (occasionally a bit of banter can be fun, but it's often pointless.)

    What I've found useful about this forum is that I've encountered some people, and benefited from their insight and advice, in a very targeted way. ie. they understand that I identify as INFJ and they are similar or they have experience with that perspective. Or even if they don't really get me, they can tell me why in that targeted sort of way.

    IRL I'm relatively unlikely to find people who are going to give me advice from that typology perspective. (Not that it's the only valuable perspective, not even close, or even the most important. But it's still important for me.) On the other hand, I have friends IRL who know much more about me and my life as a whole and we certainly have a more rounded exchange in those respects. Although, I sometimes share more here than I do with most people IRL, even people close to me. I'm not sure that's a good habit to get into, actually.

    I know what you mean about the thoughtless comments, inappropriateness etc. I wonder if those people are similar IRL. Or they're looking for something quite different. They want to have fun, or to flirt, or to get a rise out of someone. I do occasionally wonder what's going on in people's heads to make them post certain things, but then, maybe they wonder about me.

    I think IRL interaction is the most vital. Online can be great in some ways but it can also be very artificial.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Helios's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    Is it simply the "you won't be able to hit me across a computer screen" thing? Or does it have something to do with not associating a virtual persona with your own "self"?
    That, detective, is the right question.

    This a rather novel view of things: I've always thought that the reason many people tend to behave so badly on the internet is due to them not really conceiving of their audience as "proper people", at least subconsciously. The idea that a person might not consider herself a "proper person" when online is an interesting alternative-if your online persona is not really you, you cannot be held responsible for what that persona gets up to. I'd still lean towards the former, though.


    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    In my experience people tend to listen more when the conversation is held in person, and seek to understand more. Whereas on the internet, my experience has been that people simply use the internet as a tool to "get their voice out there". Because there are so many views to be heard, we get used to ignoring some voices and responding with hostility to others, without seeking to understand what the other person was really saying first.

    Sure, there are always trolls. But what worries me isn't the trolls who do it for the lulz. It's the people who are genuinely responding thoughtlessly without regard for whether or not it's appropriate.
    I sometimes try to soften my points (at least as far as presentation is concerned) outside the internet in order to decrease the probability that the person with whom I'm conversing has a negative emotional reaction to whatever it is I'm saying. In my case, the motive is purely pragmatic: someone shouting in your face is a much trickier situation from which to extricate yourself than a heated online altercation, someone in "real life" may be a person who you see regularly, etc. When I'm dealing with people on the internet, I'm far more direct, since there's no lasting, relevant consequences to being that way.

    For example, in a thread some time ago, I made a post which attracted a great deal of censure from several other members for its insensitivity. I was indifferent to this, because I don't care if I upset a stranger across the internet: their feelings aren't important to me, and they can't cause me inconvenience.

    Now consider what would have happened had I made these same statements when sitting at a table with the target of my post and my interlocutors: that, as you might imagine, could result in a very difficult situation to escape, to put it mildly, especially for someone as socially ungraceful as I am. Thus, even if I were to make the same point in an "offline situation"-I likely wouldn't-I'd be considerably more "nice", for want of a better term.


    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    I'm starting to think that the internet and fora in general aren't effective communication media, or that because of the nature of interaction (anonymous), the quality shared is necessarily limited because there is no benefit to the individual to contribute.
    I think the quality is heavily dependent on the people involved.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Sizzling Berry's Avatar
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    Anonymity adds to depersonalization - e.g. crowd mentality, uniforms during war. Then an individual feels less responsible for his/her actions.

    Also the number of fora and generally people in the internet adds to it. The more people there is the less one person's actions seem to be visible. So the more anonymous they are.

    I don't think it happens that much on Facebook where you usually create an account under your real name.
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  5. #5
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    In my experience people tend to listen more when the conversation is held in person, and seek to understand more. Whereas on the internet, my experience has been that people simply use the internet as a tool to "get their voice out there". Because there are so many views to be heard, we get used to ignoring some voices and responding with hostility to others, without seeking to understand what the other person was really saying first.
    On the other hand, I appreciate the ability to read someone's remarks several times, and have time to consider them and to formulate my own response. This doesn't happen in real-time discussions, where one hears once and must respond right away. I probably provide much more thorough and well-reasoned replies online.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    Is it simply the "you won't be able to hit me across a computer screen" thing? Or does it have something to do with not associating a virtual persona with your own "self"?
    Au contraire, it's when anonymity is guaranteed that people show just how rotten they really are. A smiling face is the best way to misdirect attention from the knife in your hand. People who troll irl are a lot more trustworthy than the seemingly nice people of everyday life.

  7. #7
    Ghost Monkey Soul Vizconde's Avatar
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    Or perhaps the OP is just being butthurt...

    (just teasing!, I am just tempted to make the above my canned answer for every post I respond to today in order for further analysis to delve into the psycology of this bonafide issue )
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  8. #8
    nee andante bechimo's Avatar
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    There's a dark side to human beings. If there are no consequences to actions, many will take the low road and if there's a group that's enabling each other, more will take the low road. The controversial Stanford Prison experiment illustrates this phenomena.

  9. #9
    Blah Orangey's Avatar
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    People do not listen to one another any more in person than they do over the internet. And what's so bad about someone saying something (rude or crude) on a forum that they would otherwise restrain themselves from saying in person? At least it's honest.
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  10. #10
    nevermore lane777's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    Is it simply the "you won't be able to hit me across a computer screen" thing?
    I think it's just that simple... people behave IRL because there are more serious consequences for bad behavior. The results of upsetting an online person are mild and more often than not, they don't affect your real life.

    However, I think debates go much smoother and are settled much faster online for a few reasons: 1) People can't deny what they said. 2) It's also harder for people to dance around a point, changing the subject every time they don't have a counter argument. For those people, it's almost like "who can have the last word," wins. I hate that shit. 3) Because people have more time to think, they can weed out less substantial points, to keep a debate from being dragged out. 4) People can't interrupt each other and they are forced to hear one another out, so a debate is less likly to turn into an argument.

    However, I think it's really hard to get a good read on people here, because tone and body language are what really give a person away. In light of all that, for debates, I choose online discussion. For all other conversations, I choose real life.
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