Tag Archives: moral issues on the internet

Same as You Are: Personalities Traits Online

i had myself a bit of a rant

I consider myself a fairly reasonable person. I want to understand both sides; it’s part of how I make sense of the world. If I enter an argument online I do it the same way. I don’t change a fundamental part of my nature because I become anonymous. I am the same.

I often hear, or read, that people online are so awful. I hear that anonymous users online say the worst things. They contribute in the nastiest battles. They terrorize. They group together to yell. They say things they would never say in real life. They’re worse humans. They look at filth; they are filth. But, this, is not so.

People do not suddenly change their compositions, their natures, because they’re in front of a keyboard. The same person who types from behind a wall of identity protection also speaks the same way in a bar. It is not two different people who sit down to type and sit down to eat with their families. Like in all things humans alter their course with circumstance, mood, attitude, and ambiance. But to say you’re not responsible for your actions online, or to say people are worse online, is ridiculous. It dodges the same moral responsibility as saying the drunkard bears no blame for his crimes or the angry for their words.

Those who are rude and belligerent online possess those same attributes offline as well. One might feel freer with one’s speech or actions. For the same reason flings seem easier on vacation. You know these people will disappear, and you don’t have to deal with immediate consequences on your immediate social circle. In the same way a casual comment about the vlog poster’s hideous shirt gets voiced. There can be no personal confrontational repercussions. There are rude people everywhere. The internet just keeps better track of them with the written word. Imagine if every bar fight was transcribed to a chatroom, there might be calls of indecency or rudeness, calls for bannings of bars.

Quit telling me people online are worse because they don’t have accountability, or they think they’re untouchable. If people act socially reprehensible online, it’s because they are acting socially reprehensible. They’re breaking the social guidelines of the website just like they would be breaking cultural norms if they were speaking their minds to their friends. The medium of the internet is their outlet. Those people get banned or called out, and rarely lauded, just like in normal crowd settings. The difference between the internet and face to face interaction is that anyone can see it, so it’s all up for grabs, instead of selective communities only hearing what their friends have to say.

I know this is an immensely complicated issue, because it deals with complex social-cultural interaction. I’m dealing with a small aspect. I’m just tired of hearing, the internet is a horrible place when I’m watching news video footage of bombings from all over the world.

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