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Why Are We So Rude Online? 341

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-nobody-can-punch-us-in-the-face dept.
kodiaktau writes "An article in the WSJ discusses why internet users are more rude online than they are in person. The story discusses some of the possible reasons. For example, a study found that browsing Facebook tends to lower people's self control. An MIT professor says people posting on the internet have lowered inhibitions because there is no formal social interaction. Another theory is that communicating through a phone or other device feels like communicating with a 'toy,' which dehumanizes the conversation. Of course, a rude conversation has never happened on Slashdot in the last 15 years."
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Why Are We So Rude Online?

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  • by PizzaAnalogyGuy (1684610) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @05:11AM (#41535637)
    Oh, but this is simple. People are rude when, well... Well let me tell you a story of my friend called Dave.

    Dave was an ordinary boy with wild imagination. He was popular with the guys for several reasons, but the fact that he and his mother let us play GoldenEye on his Nintendo64 wasn't easy to ignore. All of us guys used to gather at his house and play a few rounds of the great multiplayer experience that only the original GoldenEye gave.

    I noticed that people tented to get angry during the game. They would verbally attack other players and even punch them a bit. Dave didn't - he actually seemed quite an non-aggressive fella. What was the secret to Dave's non-aggressive and non-rude behavior? Because his mother made him these wonderful home cooked pizzas. He wasn't angry because he ate well!
    • by 2.7182 (819680) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @06:04AM (#41535923)
      Well, this writes itself. People in cars are just so crazy as opposed to when you see them face to face.
      • by osmifra (2033466) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @08:21AM (#41536687)

        My point exactly.
        It the feeling of lack of consequence. If I believe I can say what I want without consequence I will say and be more extreme.
        Happens in cars happens in the internet.

        • by ATMAvatar (648864) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @08:59AM (#41537115) Journal
          When people feel the absence of consequence, they reveal who they truly are. Most people are complete assholes. Is anyone surprised? After all, there is a pretty strong, positive selection pressure among our society for sociopathy.
          • by ilsaloving (1534307) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @10:49AM (#41538289)

            As an extension to that, perhaps we need to express that much greater appreciation for those with the strength of character to remain civil in these circumstances.

          • by Jeremi (14640) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @11:15AM (#41538621) Homepage

            When people feel the absence of consequence, they reveal who they truly are. Most people are complete assholes.

            Are they? Or is it only some people, but those are the people you tend to notice?

            If someone is polite to you, or stays out of your way, you won't give them a second thought.... OTOH if someone makes you angry, you may spend the rest of the day fuming about them.

            • .... OTOH if someone makes you angry, you may spend the rest of the day fuming about them.

              No one can make you mad, you let them. It's your choice/decision how you respond to whatever someone has said to you. When someone tells me "He/She made me SO MAD!", I come right back to them with, "No. You 'allowed' them to make you mad."

              If you are an adult, then you're supposed to be in control of your emotions.

        • Here in Texas at least, this extends to basic courtesy. I'm continually astounded at how polite people generally are in person but how few of them are courteous enough when in their cars to even use their turn signals. Vehicle code issues aside, signalling is an act of common courtesy like saying "please" and "thank you", and when in the anonimity of their cars, otherwise exceedingly polite people abondon said politeness.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @06:25AM (#41536047)
      Go suck a cock and have a cactus shoved up your ass you worthless sack of shit. We don't like rude fuckers like you around Slashdot, so fuck off if you aren't going to be fucking polite.

      Cocksucker.

      Dave
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @05:14AM (#41535651)

    ...you insensitive clod!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @05:16AM (#41535673)

      What would a dumbass MIT professor know about social interaction? Fuck him and his studies. With a big rubber dick.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by kokoko1 (833247)
        Here you go why are you so rude even you don't know this dumbass professor?
        • by Chrisq (894406)

          What would a dumbass MIT professor know about social interaction? Fuck him and his studies. With a big rubber dick.

          Here you go why are you so rude even you don't know this dumbass professor?

          GP is the professor's wife, you insensitive clod

    • And it haven't stopped me from being a jerk.

      • by somersault (912633) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @06:05AM (#41535931) Homepage Journal

        It's not about being anonymous or not, it's simply the mode of communication.

  • by Cheech Wizard (698728) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @05:15AM (#41535663)
    Leave it to the WSJ to be 15+ years behind the times in figuring this out.
    • Can't edit, so.... Actually, the more I think about it this was true in the BBS days, so I correct myself having been involved "way back when" - Not 15 years late - More like 30 years. Wow! And an MIT professor just figured this out!
  • I also feel that we're being desensitized. What used to be rude IRL but okay online, is now considered okay IRL as well. I'm not sure this is a bad thing per se. Sometimes it makes conversation just more efficient, without all the social cruft.
    • Re:Not rude (Score:5, Insightful)

      by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @05:22AM (#41535697) Journal

      Like what?

      Anonymity has always caused assholishness. People were assholes in cars before being assholes online.

      I had a guy here wish me to be in hospital after a traffic accident in the cycling thread.

      If one met someone like that IRL, one would generally back away, call them a fucking psycho or, perhaps if one was so-inclined and felt suitably threatened, punch the guy in the face. Usually 1 and or 2 though.

      • by jimshatt (1002452)
        Okay, maybe not rudeness, but just lack of etiquette. Instead of "Hi John. Nice weather, don't you think? How's the wife and kids? Oh, by the way, I'm moving to another apartment... [silence]. So that'll be a bit of work.... [silence]" it's "Hi John, wanna help me moving?".

        Or something like that. I'm not very good at coming up with examples. It's just a feeling I have.
        • by mwvdlee (775178)

          I get what you mean. I also hate it when people start making small talk in order to soften me up to what they actually want to ask, instead of just asking. It's insulting when people think they have to trick or guilt-trip me into helping them.

      • Re:Not rude (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kell Bengal (711123) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @05:32AM (#41535755)
        For similar reasons, I often find myself about to post my views on something and then hesitate: "Does the internet really need to hear my opinion on this? Is it worth the emotional backlash if my thoughts set off a troll?" More often than not recently I've answered "No". And before anyone leaps out and cries "But you shouldn't be so emotionally invested in what you post!" I'll assure you that it's impossible to express a considered opinion and not invest some part of yourself in it. Everyone should be able to state their point of view without being wished bodily harm as the parent was.

        I like how the Hackaday forum has cleaned up its act by permabanning trolls and flamers and holding people more accountable. Yes, it's whackamole with fake accounts but if trolls don't get any traction in your forum eventually they go away. Trolls are a lot like schoolyard bullies and have similar motivations. By removing the enabling mechanism (anonimity) or removing the payoff mechanism (flame response), I expect such bad behaviour can be diminished.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Chrisq (894406)

        Like what?

        Anonymity has always caused assholishness.

        It also allows you to tell the truth to "unreasonable" people. IRL if I suggested that Islam was not the religion of peace I would end up with my house burned down, and probably be killed.

        • It also allows to receiver of the so-called "truth" to disregard it even more easily. Which is why no one convinces anyone on the internet - any particular discussion tends to degenerate into incredibly long (and frequently rude) point-by-point rebuttals. This being slashdot, I'm sure examples are being provided as I post this.

          • Which is why no one convinces anyone on the internet

            I don't know about that. I've had my mind changed about a topic before when someone pointed out how stupid my POV was. I'm not above admitting that I become emotionally invested in one side of an argument, but I don't see it that way until someone makes a good argument with citations. Then I can step back and see the facts for what they are and realize my "one-time" experience was just a fluke and it shouldn't be shaping my opinion.

            On the other hand there are times when I'll post facts and citations in an

          • Which is why no one convinces anyone on the internet

            I wouldn't say that's true. Many times I argue for the sake of arguing. The reason I keep coming back to slashdot is that the comments here are better than anywhere else, except for a few very specialist forums.

            I've ocasionally been convinced of a few things, or at least modified my opinions after a discussion.

            Which is almost but not quite a point-by-point rebuttal :)

      • Re:Not rude (Score:5, Insightful)

        by khallow (566160) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @05:58AM (#41535885)

        If one met someone like that IRL, one would generally back away, call them a fucking psycho or, perhaps if one was so-inclined and felt suitably threatened, punch the guy in the face. Usually 1 and or 2 though.

        Physical proximity is not the opposite of anonymity. What I think is going on here is consequences. If there are painful consequences for rude behavior, even if nobody knows who you are, then there's disincentive to be rude.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by mwvdlee (775178)

          So you're saying we should hook up the Slashdot moderation system to an electric shock collar?
          Let me be the first to say "-1 Great idea!".

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      I also feel that we're being desensitized. What used to be rude IRL but okay online, is now considered okay IRL as well. I'm not sure this is a bad thing per se. Sometimes it makes conversation just more efficient, without all the social cruft.

      There is a difference between omitting social niceties and getting to the point and being deliberately rude. I agree its sometimes nice to be able to get straight down to "I disagree with your position", without all the "good morning, how have you been keeping" stuff - but online it will be "fuck you - how can you say such crap"! Thi hasn't (yet) entered most real life conversations.

    • I have been in real word conversations in which something needed to be said, and probably said bluntly, but I did not say it for fear of, well being too blunt about it. I chose not to hurt feelings and as a result something which needed to be said---in someone's else's benefit---was left unsaid.

      If the discussion had been in an internet forum, I would have let rip.

      In my opinion, honest productive conversation should be forthright. It's harder to do this face to face when you know that being forthright---with

  • by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya@gmailCHICAGO.com minus city> on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @05:16AM (#41535671)
    Why, it's the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory [penny-arcade.com] that explains it
    • by bazorg (911295) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @05:32AM (#41535753) Homepage

      It is a phenomenon very similar to road rage if we think about it.

      • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @07:47AM (#41536483)

        It is a phenomenon very similar to road rage if we think about it.

        Agreed.

        And road rage is basically about attempting to have 'power' over someone else. That defines the human condition in many people. They have poor 'anger management' skills. An example: At their job (and in their private life) they HAVE to take orders from others, this creates anger in them, but they can't express their feelings in a correct manner, and that anger builds, and builds. Now put them in 'control' of a 'powerful' automobile, or an online forum, and look out! They'll take out their un-vented anger on anyone who 'dares' (to their mind) to dis-respect them in the slightest. It all comes down to us wanting to have 'control' in our lives. And when we feel we don't have control, the easiest way to regain control, is to yell, lash out inappropiatly, to attempt to 'bully' people to get our way. A childlike response to the situation.

        If anyone reading this sees themselves here, or has an angry, controlling person in their lives, I'd suggest you google "angry people" and "anger management" and read up on it. Spending your life upset and angry all the time is a terrible waste, and it just hurts you and the people around you. Have a great day! :-)

  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @05:18AM (#41535683) Homepage
    Now feck off.
  • This does not apply to me. I am exactly the same, online or offline. Whoever met me online and then offline could testify. I use some profanity in both "worlds" and I act and react the same. These realms are't different in my view. Of course, I'm maybe one of few, but I've seen other people act similarly.

  • by notknown86 (1190215) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @05:23AM (#41535705)
    ...is that my computer screen doesn't punch me in the face when I talk about the sweet, though slightly twisted and, depending on your geolocation, illegal relationship I had with your mother...

    She was great, by the way.
  • fuck you (Score:2, Funny)

    by gl4ss (559668)

    the same reason youtube's flash player sucks more as time goes on: fuck you, that's why.

  • When I thought about it, I found that there indeed has been no rude message in Slashdot, ever. So I propose we discuss constructively how to keep up this fine tradition and even improve it! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask me. Oh, and if you happen to be in the town, I'll definitely buy you a beer. Have a nice day. :)
  • by zill (1690130) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @05:39AM (#41535785)

    Give a man a mask and he will show his true face. -Oscar Wilde

    The question is not "why do some people act like fucktards online?". Deep down, fucktards is exactly what those people are. They just hide it better in real life.

  • Human Psychology (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ExecutorElassus (1202245) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @05:41AM (#41535793)
    The reason is very simple, if somewhat disheartening. Take a look at some of the literature on human behavior, particularly the studies on the "banality of evil" (texbook scenarios are the Milgram Experiment [wikipedia.org] and the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment [wikipedia.org]).

    The sad truth pointed out by both of those studies is that approximately 60% of us -- all of us, even those of us who claim to be, and act like, normal ethical people in polite society -- will commit acts of cruelty upon another human being, even to the point of delivering potentially lethal electrical shocks to someone obviously in distress, if the social sanctions against it are removed.And those were both cases in which the victims had voices and (in the latter case) faces by which the perpetrators could witness the suffering they were causing.

    In short, the majority of people will be cruel, spiteful bullies if they believe they can get away with it. For me, a good example is (oddly) watching how people treat pigeons (??): they're harmless, no more dirty than, say, hoboes, and live around us. But they are negatively viewed as carriers of disease ("rats of the skies" is such a cliché, and what's so bad about rats, anyway?), and most people wouldn't think twice about trying to scare them and threaten to cause them harm. It seems a bit melodramatic, but I often wonder why a person would want to be mean to some random harmless animal. I think, sadly, that it's because most people like being mean, and just need a venue to get away with it.

    The Pinochet regime in Chile figured this out pretty quickly: you don't need to make people commit acts of cruelty against their will. All you have to do is provide a venue for cruelty without consequences, and the people will come out of the woodwork of their own accord. And Facebook/YouTube/your local news station's comments section are just such venues.
    • by Quakeulf (2650167)
      Interesting. I find myself lacking in the social norms when communicating on IRC with my friends. Then again, so do they. Conversations quickly come down to (as pointed out by a friend of mine) poop, pee and colonthree. It is a great outlet to let it all out, and keeps me sane in otherwise pressing situations where I have to endure the social stigma that comes with discussing bodily produce openly on the street.
    • True... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @05:55AM (#41535859)
      I haven't got the source, but I remember a study of road behaviour in the UK that concluded that the system works because, in effect, the 50% of drivers who are reasonably thoughtful, considerate and drive sensibly compensate for the 50% who are anything from careless to dangerous.

      But, also, there is the effect of childhood bullying. I think that most people who post regularly on Slashdot are aware of this: academic children are more likely to be bullied owing to the general social attitudes of the English speaking world. And that means that when they grow up they have quite a lot of suppressed anger aimed at the stupid people who bullied them. This could be one reason why "jock" attitudes expressed on /. tend to produce such strong negative responses; the other, of course, is that in the real world far too often fools are allowed to persist in their folly and nobody stops them. Blake said that "if the fool persists in his folly he will become wise", but actually it's more likely to be "he will cause immense trouble for other people". On line, it is easier to call a dickhead a dickhead.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@woCURIErld3.net minus physicist> on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @07:27AM (#41536375) Homepage

      The sad truth pointed out by both of those studies is that approximately 60% of us -- all of us, even those of us who claim to be, and act like, normal ethical people in polite society -- will commit acts of cruelty upon another human being, even to the point of delivering potentially lethal electrical shocks to someone obviously in distress, if the social sanctions against it are removed.

      That isn't what those studies showed at all. They demonstrated that people will act against their own morals when someone in authority tells them to. In the Milgram experiment many of the subjects protested but ultimately carried on at the behest of a man in a white coat telling them to. In the Stanford Prison Experiment the prisoners compiled with the guards demands, even though there was no legal or ethical requirement for them to do so, and the guards fed off their collective authority.

      In both cases the conclusion is that when there is authority involved people will tend to both comply with it and get caught up in enforcing it, even if doing so goes against the normal moral code and involves things they would not do as an individual.

      • by ExecutorElassus (1202245) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @07:37AM (#41536441)
        But see, I take away a different conclusion entirely, from both studies. Morals aren't really morals if you drop them for an authority figure. To me, morals are what you as a person believe, and will not abandon just because someone in a lab coat tells you to. That's the disquieting truth of both experiments: the majority of what people regard as their own moral conduct is actually just socially-reinforced behavioral norms. That's the point of the pigeon example; or, to put it more sharply: if you could get away with committing an act of cruelty, with no negative consequences whatsoever, would you do it? Both studies suggest that most people would, and the experience of people living under Pinochet -- or any number of other horrible dictators -- verifies this.
    • by RCC42 (1457439) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @07:42AM (#41536469)

      The reason is very simple, if somewhat disheartening. Take a look at some of the literature on human behavior, particularly the studies on the "banality of evil" (texbook scenarios are the Milgram Experiment [wikipedia.org] and the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment [wikipedia.org]).

      The sad truth pointed out by both of those studies is that approximately 60% of us -- all of us, even those of us who claim to be, and act like, normal ethical people in polite society -- will commit acts of cruelty upon another human being, even to the point of delivering potentially lethal electrical shocks to someone obviously in distress, if the social sanctions against it are removed.And those were both cases in which the victims had voices and (in the latter case) faces by which the perpetrators could witness the suffering they were causing.

      In short, the majority of people will be cruel, spiteful bullies if they believe they can get away with it. For me, a good example is (oddly) watching how people treat pigeons (??): they're harmless, no more dirty than, say, hoboes, and live around us. But they are negatively viewed as carriers of disease ("rats of the skies" is such a cliché, and what's so bad about rats, anyway?), and most people wouldn't think twice about trying to scare them and threaten to cause them harm. It seems a bit melodramatic, but I often wonder why a person would want to be mean to some random harmless animal. I think, sadly, that it's because most people like being mean, and just need a venue to get away with it.

      The Pinochet regime in Chile figured this out pretty quickly: you don't need to make people commit acts of cruelty against their will. All you have to do is provide a venue for cruelty without consequences, and the people will come out of the woodwork of their own accord. And Facebook/YouTube/your local news station's comments section are just such venues.

      Don't be so pessimistic!

      The Milgram experiment shows us not that people are inherently evil, malicious or spiteful but that in the right social context people will follow an authority figure's instructions even if it overrides their normal moral response. The origin of the experiment was as a response to the question of if Nazi soldiers were responsible for their actions in war or if their superiors should be held accountable.

      The Stanford prison experiment showed that when given a 'role' such as prison guard people will begin to 'act' as befitting their role, behaving as they think they should behave and becoming mentally trapped by the subjective experience of the situation as opposed to the objective reality.

      The truth is as always more complicated than 'people are just evil'. It's a matter of context and the situation we find ourselves in as much or more than base nature and upbringing are concerned.

      But don't just trust me, keep and open mind and investigate for yourself. As a matter of fact the two linked Milgram and Stanford studies are VERY interesting reading!

  • I'm no more rude online than I am in the real world. I am capable of sweetness and light right up until someone says something insulting or staggeringly stupid, and then I let them have it with both [verbal] barrels. Most of the stuff that really sets me off, nobody would ever fucking say to me face to face without trying to start a fistfight. Slashdot is especially great about that but there's definitely some jerkwads on G+ that are the same way, and I'm not even talking about the trolls.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @06:03AM (#41535915)

    First, most people are rude in general. We put a mask of politeness on top of it when in public for fear of "causing a scene" (or picking on the wrong person who *isn't* afraid of causing a scene back).

    I find it amazing how many people will let, say, someone push in front of a queue. In some, perfectly civil, countries it's positively mandatory to fight with your fellow man to be the next person served. In others, you can jump in front of a queue of 50 and barely be tutted at, for fear of "causing a scene", even if you're not some huge bruiser.

    But inside our heads, we're all thinking "Arsehole" when that happens, even if not with that exact word. Some people will expose that internal thought to the outside world, most won't.

    On the Internet, the same reason you can have more in-depth conversations about controversial topics, tell people you've never met things about you that you haven't told your own friends, and air views just to cause a nuisance because you find it funny: Anonymity, or at least pseudo-anonymity, let's you not worry about causing a scene. The worst you'll get is some online reaction that you can block, ignore or just not visit that site again.

    I've done it myself. Aired my views on a topic which doesn't have a definitive answer, been shouted down, not bothered to read the other people's rants and opinions or just not bothered to read that thread ever again.

    Everyone is being rude all day long - calling their boss, the person in the other car, the person on the other end of the phone, or any number of other people names in the privacy of their head. Sometimes they let it slip because it's consequence-less or they don't care about the consequences. And on the Internet, the consequences are generally SEVERELY limited so it's easier to say what you think without rationalising too much and having to stop insulting people.

    Everyone, in the privacy of their head, has thought "You're a dickhead" about someone they know or have met. The Internet just lets you air that without anyone ever knowing that it's YOU saying it (if you've half a brain about not putting your personal information on the net).

  • Why? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Psychotria (953670) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @06:06AM (#41535935)

    Because 99% of the people online are stupid.

    Actually, 99% of people in real life are stupid as well. Maybe I am just intolerant of idiots and being surround by them.

    Not you, of course.

    Thanks

    • Because 99% of the people online are stupid.

      Actually, 99% of people in real life are stupid as well. Maybe I am just intolerant of idiots and being surround by them.

      Not you, of course.

      Thanks

      "Surround by them"? You are one of the 99% you stupid retard. Now, get the fuck away from me and let me engage with the 1% who are not fucking idiots. I have no time for you and your kind. And, before you ask, let me answer: "yes I am like this in real life as well."

      Kind regards

      • Because 99% of the people online are stupid.

        Actually, 99% of people in real life are stupid as well. Maybe I am just intolerant of idiots and being surround by them.

        Not you, of course.

        Thanks

        "Surround by them"? You are one of the 99% you stupid retard. Now, get the fuck away from me and let me engage with the 1% who are not fucking idiots. I have no time for you and your kind. And, before you ask, let me answer: "yes I am like this in real life as well."

        Kind regards

        I actually have an answer for this. Not defending the OP, of course, but: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKOBqH8pQaQ [slashdot.org]

        What? Say WHAT one more time, mutherfucker! Go on. I dare you.

    • We are the 99%! We are the 99%!

      Erh... oh fsck.

  • On the internet people can hear what you're thinking.

    In real life they can't.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @06:12AM (#41535957)

    The other one is seeing that others get away with it and feeling entitled to do the same. That's not limited to the internet, though.

    Try it yourself. Get a sign that says "no littering" and put it somewhere where people would probably drop a thing or two if there was no such sign. You will notice that people do actually heed the sign. Now throw some garbage under the sign and watch the pile grow.

  • Or it could be... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @06:23AM (#41536027) Homepage

    That online forums, blogs, etc. tend to attract that percentage of the population online that is capable of behaving like this. I bet if you met a lot of the people who behave rudely online, their "offline" personas are simply a change of degree from how they behave online. I think it's far more likely that the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory is not only true, but that fuckwads aren't really normal, decent people in their daily lives and they tend to pool together online.

  • unless you're on the internet and anonymous, in which case you can go all out.
  • In real life, when I come across the type of morons who regularly posts online, I really want to punch them in the face. Kick them in the groin. Rip out their tongues so that they can stop insulting me with their dumb-ass arguments. That is my natural behavior. Social pressure as humans went from wild animals to socialized beings have made us frown upon such social behavior. Whacking someone over the head with a chair just because he is dumb enough to believe in Intelligent Design might be the right, and de

  • From Wikipedia: Sometimes, people deliberately employ rude behaviors to achieve a goal. Early works in linguistic pragmatism interpreted rudeness as a defective mode of communication. However, most rudeness serves functional or instrumental purposes in communication, and skillfully choosing when and how to be rude may indicate a person's pragmatic competence. Robin Lakoff (1989) addressed what she named 'strategic rudeness,' a style of communication used by prosecutors and therapists to force their interlo
  • What kind of idiot has to wonder why people are rude online? It's because we're rude in real life. We just make more of an effort to cover it up in person to avoid the social pressure of looking like an asshole in front of everybody.

    That kind of real-life instant feedback is compelling, but does not exist on the Internet.

    Now have a nice day and go fuck yourself.

  • Of course, a rude conversation has never happened on Slashdot in the last 15 years

    This is, ironically, true. Rudeness tends to occur when people stop trying to communicate and instead engage in monologue. In a dialogue, people try to reach out and find some sort of common understanding - that is almost the definition of a dialogue. Thus, even on /., when conversation happens at all (as opposed to a shouting match), it will tend to be polite, although what constitutes 'polite' may sometimes be surprising.

  • Being rude is turning up late to a meeting. It's not offering a 'warm beverage' to guests. It's not saying your pleases and thank-yous. It's not wiping your feet before entering. It's answering a phone call whilst in someone's company. It's not holding the door open for someone.

    It's all about showing a lack of manners.

    Online? With posts being too easy to take the wrong way, there is little rudeness. What people are talking about is abuse, name calling and crudeness - and that's too easy.

    You want rude online
  • by concealment (2447304) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @08:04AM (#41536579) Homepage Journal

    The common answer to this question is that anonymity online makes us vicious, in the same way in vino veritas is said when some drunk person accidentally blurts out what they're truly thinking.

    However, I think it's a combination of factors:

    1. You see only the words and the ideas, not the person;
    2. There is no social context, like being in line at a bakery;
    3. There is little chance of seeing that person again if you don't want to, or of getting the crap pounded out of you;
    4. People are very frustrated and angry in general.

    If you are in real life, you're interacting with people in a community and you might want to see them again. However, in cities, people behave just about as viciously as they do online, with a slight modification to avoid starting actual physical confrontations.

    It's the little things: cutting in line, being snide, bullying people out of the way with your SUV, littering, yapping on cell phones at counters.

    Online, you're in a world made only of words and ideas. This encourages you to blurt out what you're really thinking, which is generally disliking most people who aren't doing things your way. There's wisdom in this in that if you've been in the world for awhile, your way evolved because it makes sense. You cast aside all the other behaviors and your way is the aggregate of what's left.

    The biggest crypto-factor here however is that people in this society are frustrated. We are meat, with a for sale price on our heads, and we must constantly keep making ourselves available to a callous world in order to bring in the cash. It turns people into whores, makes them hate themselves, and makes them hate the competition, which is everyone else.

    I've lived across the world in first-world nations and third-world nations, and while the first-world nations are good on everything else, the degree of self-hatred and resentment here makes me long for the jungle.

  • by superwiz (655733) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @08:05AM (#41536587) Journal
    Essentially any society gravitates towards the lowest common denominator unless there is leadership taking it in the opposite direction. In the real world there are institutions which provide such leadership (places of worship, employers who demand respect among employees and towards customers, etc.) On the Internet no such leadership exists. When such leadership is introduced, the level of rudeness actually drops quite a bit -- just look at what happened in WoW guilds lead by polite people vs the ones lead by playerz. The level of discourse is raised when someone is able to introduce penalties on those lowering the level of discourse.

"It is better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try, but the result's the same." - Mike Dennison

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