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Why Is Everyone on the Internet So Angry?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by melbo, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    By Natalie Wolchover and Life's Little Mysteries

    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 antagonise 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 told Life's Little Mysteries.

    Chiming in on comment threads may even give one a feeling of accomplishment, albeit a false one. "There is so much going on in our lives that it is hard to find time to get out and physically help a cause, which makes 'armchair activism' an enticing [proposition]," a blogger at Daily Kos opined in a July 23 article.

    And finally, Edward Wasserman, Knight Professor in Journalism Ethics at Washington and Lee University, noted another cause of the vitriol: bad examples set by the media. "Unfortunately, mainstream media have made a fortune teaching people the wrong ways to talk to each other, offering up Jerry Springer, Crossfire, Bill O'Reilly. People understandably conclude rage is the political vernacular, that this is how public ideas are talked about," Wasserman wrote in an article on his university's website. "It isn't."

    Communication, the scholars say, is really about taking someone else's perspective, understanding it, and responding. "Tone of voice and gesture can have a large influence on your ability to understand what someone is saying," Markman said. "The further away from face-to-face, real-time dialogue you get, the harder it is to communicate."

    In his opinion, media outlets should cut down on the anger and hatred that have become the norm in reader exchanges. "It's valuable to allow all sides of an argument to be heard. But it's not valuable for there to be personal attacks, or to have messages with an extremely angry tone. Even someone who is making a legitimate point but with an angry tone is hurting the nature of the argument, because they are promoting people to respond in kind," he said. "If on a website comments are left up that are making personal attacks in the nastiest way, you're sending the message that this is acceptable human behaviour."

    For their part, people should seek out actual human beings to converse with, Markman said — and we should make a point of including a few people in our social circles who think differently from us. "You'll develop a healthy respect for people whose opinions differ from your own," he said.

    Working out solutions to the kinds of hard problems that tend to garner the most comments online requires lengthy discussion and compromise. "The back-and-forth negotiation that goes on in having a conversation with someone you don't agree with is a skill," Markman said. And this skill is languishing, both among members of the public and our leaders.
  2. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    Meanwhile....back to the inferno! :eek:

    Seriously...unfortunately, we see this here more often than we may like...."Dogs 'n Neighbours" being a case in point. But not all discourse is angry or combative, and that is a saving grace of the SM site...there are enough folk here who are respectful of other members, without necessarily embracing another's point of view that is contradictory to one's own.
    john316 likes this.
  3. NotSoSneaky

    NotSoSneaky former supporter

    This forum is a sea of calm compared to some forums I've seen. [OO]
    UGRev, CaboWabo5150, JABECmfg and 2 others like this.
  4. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    Apart from SM, from what I have seen, Frugal Monkeys seems to be a fairly placid place.

    Relatively few people are banned here, and usually then, only for egregiously obnoxious behaviour. Occasionally people who take themselves far more seriously than they need to and creating a passing fuss; but usually they don't stay around very long, they move along to somewhere else where they can hold court until they have made themselves unwelcome or are ignored into oblivion there too. Sometimes they are pushing a hobby horse around the ether, and their travels on the internet can be tracked via google and other search engines.

    Debates can become heated, and, occasionally harsh, but most monkeys who value the tribe here, and wish to remain on goods terms with it try and keep things within reasonable bounds. I have learned a lot by being here, and value the friendships made on this site. I may be relentless in challenging a point of view, particularly if it is founded on fallacious argument (and expect no less of others who challenge my point of view), but that doesn't mean that I cannot empathise with that person's viewpoint, nor that I can simply discount that individual as a person with no right to be heard.

    The Code of Conduct is pretty simple to comprehend and isn't all that onerous to comply with...civility goes a long way to making this a pleasant place to call home.
    kellory, Dawg23, Mountainman and 6 others like this.
  5. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    This forum is a sea of calm because we are preaching to the Choir here. I also engage in debate at Political crossfire forums. There you can actually debate Liberals on gun control , atheists on religion, left versus right and most any political topic. Yes the debate can get ugly but it is necessary.
    NotSoSneaky and Quigley_Sharps like this.
  6. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja Jedi Bipolar WINNING M.L.F.

    Or better yet...create a new mental illness out of it, prescribe more drugs to dumb people down, limit their human emotions and PROFIT from it!

    Frankly - Anger is sometimes the appropriate response to stupidity, learned helplessness, cognitive dissonance, lies told by "leaders"/politicians, injustice, violence, ignorance - on and on.

    Psychology is BS.

    Right now in America many Vets are getting letters telling them to turn in their guns because they aren't "competent" to own them in a "civil society".
    Is the appropriate response to politely turn them in to "Officials" and apologize for scaring the sheeple they once risked their lives to fight for?

    My opinion on anger is simple...it's more productive than fear. Anger leads to action whereas fear freezes. I would challenge these "psychologists" to do some asymmetric linguistic trend analysis and realize that the internet is waking up millions of people each and every day to the very real mental illness of "Political Correctness" that leads to self-censorship and "going along just to get along" - even if it's criminal.

    Tracy, Mountainman and JABECmfg like this.
  7. bfayer

    bfayer Keeper Of The Faith

    People on the internet are angry all the time for one and only one reason: they don't agree with me on each and every issue. Its simple really, just give up your own point of view and agree with me. We will all be better off :)

    Look how well it worked for the Chinese under Mao, or the Germans under Hitler.

    Just listen to the Doctors, give up your individual opinion and just think the way I want you to. Its all unicorns and butterflies after that, really :)
    Cruisin Sloth and Mindgrinder like this.
  8. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    It is MY Opinion, that Society should take these Academics, and tell them to "Write a Paper" and "leave the world" a better place.... Having different Opinions, and Expressing them, Where, and However, ONE chooses, is the essence of Freedom of Speech.... Maybe they consider THAT, before they Mouth Off, about some Blue Sky & Butterfly, esoteric Psychological Mumbo Jumbo... that only one of their OWN Kind can decipher.. They can publish their Paper in some obscure Journal, and let the rest of us, be able to, Just have a Nice Day, without having to read, or listen to, their blathering.... ..... Y and TMMV

    Post Script.... It doesn't take a Rocket Scientist to figure out WHY People are Angrier today, than before today... They are angrier Today, simply because they feel they have "Less control over their lives" than they did before, and they feel, "There is little they can actually DO about that".... I mean DUH..... Are all these Psychobabble Folks, all Kommiefornia ValleyGirl Blonds, or what?
    Yard Dart and Mindgrinder like this.
  9. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja Jedi Bipolar WINNING M.L.F.

    @BT - They do publish their papers in obscure journals that "only their kind" read and "thumbs up" or "like" - it's called "Peer Review". Saddly, this counts for Government policymakers as a "consensus of doctors and scientists" which they use to manipulate laws to suit a profit driven insider agenda. It's not just physchobabble folks, it's also the trubo-enirvo-eco-communists. And to answer your question...no...they're not valley girls...they're Type-A personality control freak eugenicists....well not all of them...but some....

  10. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    I asked Obummer about this, He said it's Bush's fault, So it must be true !
    JABECmfg and BTPost like this.
  11. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    There absolutely is some mindless psycho-babble in the article, but therein also resides a lot of truth.

    I know everyone here has encountered the little internet hero that is a former SEAL, he benches 400, has an incredible muscle car, has done some modeling, and spends most of his days surfing and hanging out with hot chicks. In reality, he sits in his parents' basement pounding his .......... keyboard; posting offensive rants, and flaming people that in real life he wouldn't have the cojones to speak to, never mind scream insults at.

    These folks assemble, what in their minds is, an incredibly clever screen name and a devastatingly cool avatar, and spend their days posting vile comments on articles and attacking posters on forums. For these folks, their internet interaction is ultimately a bad thing; because it retards their personal growth. They don't learn to deal with reality, because they use their computer generated alter-ego as a substitute for reality.
    Happily for all of us, the mods and admins here quickly show these types the door when they rear their ugly little heads (and thank you for that); but there are a lot of them out there.

    Children growing up now with unrestricted access to the internet, video games, and cable TV, can develop a very skewed idea of what normal is, or should be. Many of them aren't spending enough time out in the real world, interacting with real people and nature; and learning how to deal with the challenges presented to us by the real world. They also aren't learning to deal with their anger.

    As mindgrinder as pointed out, anger can be a good thing, when properly channeled into appropriate action. The internet provides way too many opportunities though to inappropriately deal with anger, that can have some very unhealthy results.
  12. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    You boy's need to get out and do some of the thing's i do...Just for kick's

  13. NotSoSneaky

    NotSoSneaky former supporter

    One thing I've found is if you need to resort to profanity and personal attaacks, you've lost the debate.[tongue]
    Ajax, tulianr and chelloveck like this.
  14. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    Yard Dart and NotSoSneaky like this.
  15. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja Jedi Bipolar WINNING M.L.F.

    I'll go along with this and add:

    TV as a babysitter.
    Microwave everything.
    Drink only from cans & bottles.
    Text message instead of face-2-face.
    Online dating instead of exploring groups of people.
    Sports, golf, fishing....video games instead of actually DOING these things...

    To name a few...
  16. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    Why is there so much anger?
    Because, them angry bastards (general sheeple population) can sense that something is wrong. They know that they are getting screwed w/o lube. It hurts. and they are mad and want to punch someone. Buuuuuuut,
    Being that this is the internet, they can't clean someones clock, so they are just venting, and acting all big and ferocious on the internet.

    Most of them still live in their moms basements, haven't been laid, nor can no longer get up the stairs.

    That's my professional opinion.
    BTPost, Tracy and Gator 45/70 like this.
  17. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    And nobody has called 911 to have them extracted, and if they did the Rescue Crew would have to use the Jaw of Life to make a hole big enough, to pull it off......
  18. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    I think they decided that the Jaws of Life didn't work on Rectal-Cranial inversions.
    Oh wait, I was thinking of politicians. Carry on.
  19. fmhuff

    fmhuff Monkey+++

    Compromise with evil and evil wins. I think that venting about people sometimes keeps us from ventelating them.

    What if we did as Teddy Rosevelt said "walk softly and carry a big stick". I think that stick would have quite a few nicks in it by now. I also think that there is a progression from outrage to doing something about it. Once the tar and feathers are used up we can go back to playing pool with our buds.
  20. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    Online's 'nasty effect'

    Finally! Scientific research backs up my perennial gripe about the soul-killing, society-destroying effects of online comments. A study published last month on the website of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (which does not allow comments) shows that comments can actually sway the perceptions and opinions of otherwise objective readers.

    Researchers from George Mason University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison set up a fake blog with a news item on a new (and also fake) technological product called nanosilver that had several benefits and several risks.

    Though it's not clear from the study whether a string of notably positive comments (if such a thing ever exists) would make readers concentrate on nanosilver's benefits, at least one thing seems certain — boos and jeers are infectious. That led the researchers to label their findings "the nasty effect."

    As the researchers found, rude comments don't just affect mood or frame of mind. They affect how the mind frames ideas and processes information. As I've observed it, they have a dramatic effect on how writers write and, perhaps more important, on how readers read — especially those who don't remember a time before electronic media.

    When I talk to students or young writers about the importance of being unafraid to take controversial positions, I'm struck by the degree to which they can't entertain a thought, much less commit one to paper, without imagining the cacophony of snark they'll get in response. Worse, they say it's rare that they read something online without scanning the comments to gauge the public response before forming a personal opinion. Sometimes they only read the comments. Having come of age in a "nasty effect" world, the idea of reading or listening or viewing and just taking it all in, without input from a crowd-sourced peanut gallery, is barely imaginable.

    Meghan Daum: Online commenters and 'the nasty effect' - latimes.com
    chelloveck likes this.
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