Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror wrote – Whatever Happened to Civility on The Internet? which is an excellent question. Jeff questions why people have become so nasty on the Internet, in both their comments and their posts. Miss Manners may seem outdated, but it would seem that some need her more than ever.
Anand Iyer of Artificial Ignorance wrote nerd rage – uncool. Anand documents anonymous hostility he has received over email at a previous job, and from an anonymous phone call after he left his phone number on his blog to help people get in contact with him. I think nerd rage is a perfect name for his post. I feel bad for Anand, who from my experience he is a helpful, cool guy, had to be the recipient of such an ugly hostile phone call.
Why does anonymity bring out the worst in some people? The picture is a Photoshopped joke that did the rounds on Fark. Someone would post a picture of an attractive women or man, and immediately there would be comments posted about negative aspects of the women. The joke was, oh her knees are too pointy. What does that even mean? Do these people look in the mirror?
Jay Smooth of Ill Doctrine did a video post Lukewarm Ghetto Snooze. In Jay’s post he discusses the BET show Hot Ghetto Mess that highlight negative ‘ghetto’ aspects of black people. In his show he mentions that the tackiness of some, does not equal social or political commentary for all.
I understand that we get frustrated being stuck in traffic or having a hard day at work, or by feeling cheated in some way. I understand that you want to blow of steam. It is easy to vent on the Internet you can be completely anonymous. Words like fat, ugly, stupid or worse can easily be typed, without having to witness the impact that these words have on the recipient. We are able to vent on someone with minimal repercussions. I do understand that some people are frustrated and want others to share their pain.
Is venting on someone else, really the best way to go? Personally, I don’t think so.
I see that some people build themselves up by tearing other people down. It seems they are of the thinking that “I am only better, when the people around me are less than I am.” I personally don’t subscribe to this line of thinking. If someone I am working with that I have helped be successful passes me somehow, I feel that reflects positively on me. I helped that person be successful. They were able to take something that I gave them and make it work for themselves.
So I see this negativity out there, and I think about the fact that negativity alone does not generate forward momentum. Negativity followed by a conversation about how to make things better generates forward momentum. I like to try and build, moving myself and others forward.
I don’t really know what the solution is, but I know steps that I will take.
- I will sign my name to posts, and not hid behind anonymity.
- Anonymous postings should be monitored. I don’t want to discourage conversation, or even dissenting opinions, I do want to discourage negative remarks for the sake of disruption.
- If I notice negative comments, I will ask questions to see what kind of solutions these commenter’s have to offer. Is the person being disruptive or are they shining the light on issues that can be made better?
Whether there is actually karma or not, I like to try and stay positive, and do what is best with the knowledge I have.
All comments are welcome, but hostility, spite, intolerance and meaness aren’t.