When you write a blog - or any other public commentary - you invite the unhappy and uncivilized to attack you - they often try to strip you to the bare bones! It is both an occupartional hazard and a comment on our times.

This recent comment I got in response to an old post (last June 10th), "A Psychological Interview with Barack Obama," is far from the worst I've received:

"This is NOT an interview but rather pitiful hem hugging, star struck, dribble totally unworthy of this publication! The author needs to grow up ..."

It is from that popular correspondent, Anonymous (although I have received some real doozies from named assailants).

Any blog or public writer, from Maureen Dowd on down, gets used to this (have you ever looked at the comments printed by the Times following Dowd's articles - scabrous!). After the initial shock at seeing these wears off, you are left to reflect on the nature of your readership and just how sorry a state the world is in.

What motivates people sitting home (I imagine them in their underwear, using a PC in the basement of their mother's home, where they live) to attack people who have a psychology degree or some other credential that provides the modest qualifications needed to write a blog for Psychology Today?

It is common for them to call to the attention of the PT authorities, like Anonymous did, that the blogger is unworthy. Is this an actual attempt to get PT to reconsider listing my blog? If so, then the commenter is probably not well-moored to the real world.

But I suspect it is just a chance for them to offload their frustrations - not with me but their own lives. Oh, I can believe they didn't really like my post - although the worst insulters never identify specific offending ideas or shortcomings in the post. They are not a group given to careful readings.

The Internet affects communications in myriad ways. Of course, there is the universality - that like-minded people can find kindred spirits around the globe. But, then, there is the anonymity. People can say things there they would never dare to utter - that frighten themselves - in the light of day.

The Internet - and blog comments - reveal a sea full of untethered souls, grappling with their own disappointments and limitations, ready to strike out at the first sign of weakness (real or imagined) that they can discern in someone better off, more successful, or at least more visible than they are.

Not a pretty picture.

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