Haters gonna hate

Why online anonymity is less of a good thing and more of people’s dark sides.The world population “officially” hit 7 billion people some days ago and growing rapidly. Some statistics even show that the next billion isn’t too many years off. (we were six billion 12 years ago!) The sentiment that seems to very much be the theme du jour is anger and hatred. “We are too many people.” ”We cannot sustain food, space and clean living conditions for everybody.”

Maybe I’m wrong, but I for one am filled with hope by the prospect of lifting the billions (majority of the world) out of poverty rather than sustaining our own good lives. In fact as the world plunges into an economic crisis we are seeing people become nationalistic in the worst case and locally-focused in the best case. Anger is giving way to mutual understanding.This brings me to my topic today. Haters.

Have you ever wondered who those people are that comment in online forums or articles? They are mean, hateful and just spiteful human beings. I’m often shocked by the vulgarity of some of the comments written after articles or under YouTube videos.

Ranging from “hate” to mean-spirited comments to just plain trolling and vicious. Wikipedia explains online annonymity as: Anonymity may reduce the accountability one perceives to have for their actions, and removes the impact these actions might otherwise have on their reputation. This can have dramatic effects, both useful and harmful. In conversational settings, anonymity may allow people to reveal personal history and feelings without fear of later embarrassment.

But why?

First and foremost

1. Anonymity. If you could wear an invisible cape in real life, so nobody knew who you are, I think most people would jump at the chance.

2.Perfect forum to channel anger and frustration. It’s not real life. It’s the internet. Are you angry? Great! Let the world know!

3. People are “too nice” in real life. Always smiling and asking how we are. If people were more inclined to be honest about how they really feel, there would not be as much hostility to burn in a place where nobody knows who you are.

4. No consequences. Whats the worst that can happen? The site admin deletes your post? Oh no. There are no real-world repercussions if you insult someone online. There are no fines, no bans (how could there be when most sites allow commenting without registration?)

Sweden has abolished internet anonymity on some of their sites already making them a forerunner in the race against trolls

Have you come across hatred or racism on the internet? Leave a comment and tell me about it!

4 Responses to “Haters gonna hate”

  1. Trolleybus 28/11/2011 at 17:28 #

    Trolleys gonna troll

  2. Pasi Jumppanen 28/11/2011 at 18:07 #

    I would like to point out, that the same anonymity also protects you against personal insults – Unless you decide to use your own name. It works both ways.

    Also, what if the hostile nature of the internet actually teaches people to cope better with hostility and insults (made on purpose or otherwise – say, as in cultural differences)?

    I mean, if you can shrug off what people say or do on the internet, maybe you can do the same on the real world without getting angry, and thus averting the so called cirlce of hatred.

  3. Jenny Vassileva 30/11/2011 at 18:55 #

    Good stuff, Satu! The way people abuse anonymity on the web worries me and essentially goes back to the bigger topic – behaviour discrepancies between offline and online. The online world is never a true reflection of who we are and what we do when we are not connected to the internet. It is more like our personality seen in a “funny mirror”, somehow distorted.

    Further, what is troublesome is that we do not perceive “online crime” to be as severe as “offline crime”. In fact ,the same activities are not perceived crime when involved in on the web. We feel the web shields us from the consequences of our actions. This is a rather dangerous trend we have started here!

    There is a book you should check out: http://www.amazon.com/You-Are-Not-Gadget-Manifesto/dp/0307269647

    It discusses many of these issues and more. Some radical but interesting views on the internet industry as a whole and market players such as Google.

    Jason Lanier on anonymity: “What’s to stop an online mass of anonymous but connected people from suddenly turning into a mean mob, just like masses of people have time and time again in the history of every human culture? It’s amazing that details in the design of online software can bring out such varied potentials in human behavior. It’s time to think about that power on a moral basis.”

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