If you have ever read the comments readers leave for an internet news story, a blog or even a product review, you may have noticed how angry some people are, and how rude their comments can be. What makes people lash out and in some instances be downright hateful? Has the anonymity of the internet caused us to take freedom of speech a little too far? Why can’t we have opinions, disagree and engage one another in a respectful manner? Hiding behind a keyboard and computer monitor gives us little excuse to be so rude.
Does the internet bring out the worst in us?
While it is true that everything seems to be out of whack these days, politically and economically, the aggressiveness that people display in their internet comments is far greater than they would display if talking face-to-face. (At least, I hope it is!) When someone disagrees, their first response in writing seems to be to lash out with anger, and then take other peoples’ comments way too personally.
An example, and there are many, would be the responses to this article in The Huffington Post: Todd Akin On Abortion: ‘Legitimate Rape’ Victims Have ‘Ways To Try To Shut That Whole Thing Down’ by Chris Gentilviso
For people unaccustomed to expressing themselves in writing, thoughts and opinions can come out sounding rude. The veil of anonymity that the internetprovides only accentuates this—comment writers and their readers don’t see body language; they don’t hear tone of voice. And these two factors can make all the difference in the world as to how a message is received.
Anonymity also unleashes the freedom to say at will whatever comes to mind. (shutterstock photo)
There is also the lag time that comes with people posting comments from all over the world. Someone can post a rude comment—even an unintentionally rude comment—and because other readers may be commenting hours or days later, there is no opportunity for the conversation to come to an end amicably. Instead, the hissy fight just wears on, for days, until someone gets tired and gives up. Anonymity also unleashes the freedom to say at will whatever comes to mind, with no thought to peoples’ feelings. Just throw the hand grenade and hide behind a rock! (Or a computer screen.)
Should websites censor rude comments?
Some websites screen reader comments and delete those that are deliberately rude or insulting. They may ban repeat offenders from posting again. Perhaps this is the right thing to do. After all, as journalism professor Edward Wasserman told Scientific American writer Natalie Wolchover, “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 behavior.” Instead, sites can promote civil communication and thehealthy exchange of differing ideas. Or they can go the Jerry Springer route, and just allow readers to throw (virtual) chairs at one another. Is this really the example we want to follow?
Read whole article at VOXXI.COM