Quick post today based on something interesting I read on Wired.com:
In an article entitled "Pseudonymity, Anonymity, And Accountability Online", author Sheril Kirshenbaum discusses her opinion of another article on the Wild, Wild West of Internet commenting.
(Yes, this is a post about a post about a post.)
This discussion of how people choose to comment on the Web behind the cloak of anonymity has gone on for a while among people who observe culture, media, and technology. The Web is not for the sensitive, bringing out the worst in racism, sexism, and overall meanness.
But there is another less-talked about effect of the Web. That which may even have an effect on lives offline.
There is an allure to be egotistical online. What you write comes from you and is your opinion and your words and often times, being from you, they have to be right. And when faced with the slightest bit of objection, people online tend to either coat their expression in the Internet language of snark or they become highly combative. Neither of which is very healthy.
The Internet has unfortunately decreased our ability to have civil discussion and instead preached argument. It has fostered a culture in which a solo opinion is all that matters and that people have to outshout or outargue everyone else.
If you do a lot of work online, this can be particularly dangerous.
Although you can turn off the computer and mutter under your breath how much of a moron the person you cyber-argued with was, that is not a healthy habit offline. Because it only takes one to type and comments are rarely made by consensus, the Internet has devalued cooperation, listening, and compromise.
As I live by myself, sometimes I have noticed these traits slip into my own interactions. Nothing major, but the ego and hostility that bear its fangs in online debate sometimes slips out offline.
That's not good.
I need a dog or maybe a Russian bride.