Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Internet is in flames

Have you ever asked yourself why internet users are so angry? I have and upon reflection took down most of my social media accounts leaving only Facebook, where I have pared back on everyone except REAL friends and family, and Twitter, which is where all comic book people seem to post. Even so I still have to read or scroll past some of my family and friends' flame-filled rants. I admit I have been guilty of the same, but I really try resist throwing a scorching Molotov cocktail in the direction of those I don't agree with . . . most of the time. So why do we engage in this hateful kind of behavior?

In the infamous words of Mel Brooks, "C'mon, you do it, you know you do it and you're going to do it again." But why? Does it accomplish anything? Do you feel any better? Does anybody ever change their minds? The answers are simple: No, no, and no.
Live Science wrote, "online comments 'are extraordinarily aggressive without resolving anything.' this is according to 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.'"
I mean that seems common sense, right? But we still do it anyway. One thing I've noticed on social  media sites and the comments following any article (where they allow comments) is the proliferation of the "Anonymous" aggressor. One thing I won't do is post anonymously. If I have something to say and I can't say it to someone's face (or in this case on a social media site) that's just cowardly. Maybe it's the distance or the fact that we don't know who so many of these commentors/posters are. Writing as yourself teaches you to be polite. Like my mother always said, "You can tell your teacher (boss, professor, store clerk) whatever you want as long as you do so politely and respectfully."
 Professor Markman believes "A perfect storm of factors come together to engender the rudeness and aggression seen in the comments' sections of Web pages. 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 antagonize 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)."
When was the last time you flamed someone? Did you do so anonymously? Did it make you feel better? Did the receiver of said flame change their mind?