Do the Right Thing

Spirit, science, and health

Does the internet make you mean?

The comment section on so many internet news stories, blog posts, and so forth seem to elicit the worst in people. Whether it is news, sports, or most anything else I'm amazed at the level of vitriol out there. So, what's up with that? Read More

I'm so glad to see this

I'm so glad to see this addressed. It's really disturbing to read the comments after almost any article. I'm always amazed at how quickly the comments will deteriorate into name-calling, racist, sexist, insulting nonsense. When I see those I have the same thoughts as when I see bumper stickers that are similarly in poor taste - no wonder the rest of the world considers Americans to be so decadent and classless. We use the right of free speech to justify assaulting others with verbal abuse. It makes me lose faith in the inherent goodness of humanity. Under the cover of anonymity, people will let their true hostile traits prevail. The human race is doomed.

Well...

Well F*ck you!

/Sarcasm

And the meme's shall inherit the Internet.

Well your mistake may have

Well your mistake may have been believing that humanity has inherently good. What's odd is that, by using this racist, sexist, insulting nonsense, we actually end up taking a lot of the bite out of it. That's sort of the beauty of the internet.

On the internet, you're nothing but your own thoughts and ideas. Race and gender cease to exist, and cease to matter. You could argue that race and gender exist in media such as videos or pictures, and I would have to concede. However in most cases, such things are static content, and not an active, fluid method of communication - at least not as active and fluid as things like comments are.

The only judgements that people can make about you have to be based on your words alone. No one knows who you are, what you look like, where you live, or what you're interests are unless you tell them, and even then they would have to believe you. Because you cannot be identified, it is impossible to direct these comments at you; so all this sexist, racist, nonsense is in the end just that, nonsense. It is a great nothing, a null and void. On the internet, it does not offend me in the slightest, and I see no reason why it should offend anyone once the try to comprehend the true meaning (of which there is none) of these sorts of comments.

On the car thing - you aren't

On the car thing - you aren't anonymous in a car. You're only separated from the world by a thin sheet of glass but the reason people act this way is because when you get into a car, that car becomes your 'body' and your personal space expands. When someone cuts you off, you feel as if someone has violated your personal space.

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Thomas Plante, PhD, ABPP, is the Augustin Cardinal Bea, SJ University Professor at Santa Clara University and Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University.

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