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Anonymous Anger Rampant On the Web 399

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the oh-now-this-too dept.
the4thdimension writes "In a story that may bring out the 'duh' in you, CNN has a story about how anonymous anger is rampant on the Internet. Citing various reasons, it attempts to explain why sites like MyBiggestComplaint and Just Rage exist and why anger via the web seems to be everywhere. Various reasons include: anonymity, lack of rules, and lack of immediate consequences. Whatever the reason, they describe that online anger has resulted in real-life violence and suggest methods for parents and teens to cope with e-aggression and to learn to be aware of it." I can't figure out what makes me angrier: my habit of anonymously trolling web forums, or my video game playing.
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Anonymous Anger Rampant On the Web

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  • by tjstork (137384) <todd@bandrowsky.gmail@com> on Monday November 03, 2008 @11:19AM (#25613601) Homepage Journal

    I mean, I've gone from Excellent to Bad Karma in three days of raging on slashdot, and were I not on the verge of getting kicked off, I could go on raging for three days more and go for the mystical Evil rating.

  • by mgkimsal2 (200677) on Monday November 03, 2008 @11:20AM (#25613609) Homepage

    Whatever the reason, they describe that online anger has resulted in real-life violence

    Of course I didn't RTFA, but I have to wonder, to what extent would these people be angry about whatever they did anyway? I tend to get impatient/grumpy/angry in many situations, regardless of whether it's online or offline (in lines at the bank, stores, etc.). Yeah, it's a bit easier to vent online sometimes, in IM thread, some forums, and so on, but I've vented in public and with friends/colleagues offline for years, well before the world of 'online'.

    Perhaps in a way its better than people do this online and stay away from other people in the real world to avoid physical harm to themselves and others.

  • Sad Really (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mfh (56) on Monday November 03, 2008 @11:20AM (#25613611) Homepage Journal

    This reminds me of Lord of the Flies. The masks make the demons feel like they can act without consequence.

    Personally I think it's good for our psyches to take some form of abuse as long as we have a strong coping mechanism, and a strategy to deal with it. Truth be told, flies that are the dirtiest when they are young actually live the longest. Clean flies die quickly. So what I'm saying is that rampant nerd rage is a good thing because people get stuff off their chest, and as long as people understand how to deal with internet rage, then they can actually become mentally stronger from being entangled in it. Reminds me of the Hellmouth stories too, and how that whole discussion was such a healing power for so many.

    But it's sad we have to deal with such powerful demons, and that demons are so contagious.

  • Get on the phone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pubjames (468013) on Monday November 03, 2008 @11:22AM (#25613663)

    Whenever I get an angry work-related email I immediately get on the phone to the person. It is amazing the difference when speaking on the phone, often the person will very quickly become quite apologetic for their email when you phone them.

  • Re:Positive thing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hey! (33014) on Monday November 03, 2008 @11:28AM (#25613787) Homepage Journal

    I'd rather have someone rant about something online than go out and live out the murder they wished upon someone.

    Why in the world would you think that these are mutually exclusive alternatives?

    The "steam boiler" model of pop psychology has long been proven to be incorrect. Acting and speaking do not relieve pressure -- or at least very much pressure. Instead human emotions tend to follow feedback loops. Acting and speaking angrily lead to thinking angrily, which lead to further angry actions and speech.

    The word used by psychologists for this feedback phenomenon is "refractory". Anger is a refractory state precisely because angry thoughts and actions lead to further angry thoughts and actions. It is not relief that puts an end to it, it's fatigue.

    Look around at people who act or speak out their anger and those who try to moderate their anger. Who stays angry the longest? The next time you get angry, try to master that anger by thinking objective thoughts. Do you stay angry longer or less long?

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Monday November 03, 2008 @11:40AM (#25614001) Journal

    You're right. But, the first thing they do is, they express their anger as anonymously as they can, to find out if they are alone, because they know if they are alone, they cannot act effectively.

    If they are not alone, they will come to see this fact. Together.

    Then, after they realize they are not alone, one person will stand up and say "My name is Joe Crazy. I am not going to take this anymore. Who is with me?"

    And THIS is when they will start cleaning up their society.

    And when they finally do, it will be gloriously violent, as those who have been exploiting the rule of law to oppress their fellow man are hoisted by their own petard.

    They will be hoisted by the masses who finally realize that they do not wish to live in an oppressive, efficient society based on the rule of law with the faint hope that they might one day get to be Dictator Bush, but just want to co-operate, take care of their needs and spend the rest of their time enjoying their life.

    It's inevitable.

  • by stormguard2099 (1177733) on Monday November 03, 2008 @11:46AM (#25614145)

    I know most wont rtfa but my god the examples they use are hillariously bad. I was expecting whole sentences constructed out of *s+ 3 or 4 letters but no. It was talking about how celebrities had a flamewar or two online or one politician used a racial slur and surprise surprise, it got reported online.

    the only decent example was the myspace girl who commited suicide, meagan.

    im not sure i want to listen to a major news corp that cant even find decent examples of anon hate online. i mean jesus christ, just pick any slashdot and browse at -1!

  • by CristalShandaLear (762536) on Monday November 03, 2008 @11:54AM (#25614301) Homepage Journal

    Nowhere have I found more anger than in yahoo hearts.

    For the most part online, I find people to be fairly polite if not a little more crude or pointed than they would be in real life. On message boards, chat rooms, even places like FARK - there are always rules and people bend the boundaries to breaking but the die-hard bigots are truly a dying breed. Then again, maybe it's just a matter of all out flame wars and such being ended by admins and such before they really get started anymore.

    But even in something as simple as yahoo hearts, I have found the most bigoted, racist, discriminatory people you ever want to meet. I mean one day, the host of table playing Yahoo Graffiti was booting anyone that had a brown person icon. Or in Yahoo hearts people are quick to use the n-word and such.

    However by the same token, I have never encountered racism playing Yahoo Literati. And I find it speaks volumes that people who would play a game that that is related to words and depth of vocabulary and knowledge would be the very people to be the kindest and most interesting people I've encountered online.

    I wholeheartedly believe that there is direct relationship between IQ and the level of every day bigotry and racism expressed by any given individual. I believe the same co-relation between those who are rich and/or powerful as this does not necessarily relate to intelligence - or that those who are rich, powerful and intelligent use tools such as racism and bigotry to manipulate those who are none of those things.

    I guess I always wonder - what truly is the point of being a bigot or racist? Oh well....more observations that really any information here.

  • by jimwelch (309748) <jimwelchok.gmail@com> on Monday November 03, 2008 @12:00PM (#25614373) Homepage Journal

    I have found that most people will not state their opinions if they are forced to sign them. The consequences of a opinion can be far more severe than is justified from those in power. Too often those in power, abuse power. Which side you are on, does not matter, both side have a fringe that goes off the deep end. For a few examples, see Nixon, J. Edgar Hoover, College Faculty (tenure granting is power). Ben Franklin had to use a pseudo-name so he would not be arrested. Writers during the witch hunts of the McCarthy era. Women writers had to pretend to be men to get published.

    Anonymous is very useful! If you use is wisely! Put forth your arguments clearly and logically. Stir the emotions only as needed. Leave the hate behind. Leave the anger behind.

  • Solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Peregr1n (904456) <ian.a.ferguson@gmail.com> on Monday November 03, 2008 @12:14PM (#25614643) Homepage
    The politest, friendliest, most trustworthy forum I belong to forces you to register with your real name. As it's linked to a commerce system, I imagine they can double-check it with the credit details they have on file for me. I know a lot of people would hate this, but I love it - everyone on there thinks very carefully before posting.
  • Ya Don't Say... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JoeSixpack00 (1327135) on Monday November 03, 2008 @12:24PM (#25614813)
    Online anger has resulted in real-life violence?

    Most people are jerks online because it won't get them a punch in the face. 99% of the crap people say to you would never get said in person, because it'll likely result in an ass kicking. Literally 0% of the things I've been called have never been said towards me in person.

    And I don't need a study to tell me that. I learned that 10 years ago when the rudest people online wouldn't even reveal their IP address - yet alone their real identity. I went from an ircx chat server to an ircd with masked ips with the same group of people and everyone all of a sudden became John Wayne.
  • by FooBarWidget (556006) on Monday November 03, 2008 @12:43PM (#25615131)

    Then what about trolling and people who are deliberately spreading disinformation? If there are too many of them, then fighting each and every anonymous poster is going to waste a lot of time. Time that could have been used for more useful activities instead.

  • Re:Positive thing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Monday November 03, 2008 @12:44PM (#25615171)
    I've got all these mod points and not a single one let's me mod something "scary", "stay away from this guy", or "OMGWTFBBQ". So sad. Although for a moment I considered modding it "informative".
  • Re:Sad Really (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BorgCopyeditor (590345) on Monday November 03, 2008 @12:44PM (#25615177)

    So what I'm saying is that rampant nerd rage is a good thing because people get stuff off their chest

    This is commonly said. Unfortunately, it's not true. When people habitually get themselves angry, even if it's "only online and not IRL," they get habituated to being angry.

  • Re:Positive thing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday November 03, 2008 @01:36PM (#25616067) Homepage

    Yeah, but I remember reading about a recent study that showed that people had something like a finite amount of self control. Like if you were put in a position of having to use willpower to keep yourself from doing something, you'd be more likely to succumb to your impulses if you'd been exercising your willpower on something else directly before.

    Now I think the study was regarding addictive behavior specifically (I'm not going to actually go looking for the news story I read about it), but I think it explains why people are inclined to believe the "steam boiler" model. It may not be that letting out anger lessens the amount of anger you have, but rather that relaxing your will and succumbing to your anger allows you well of willpower to recharge a bit, therefore allowing you to reassert a level of self-control that wouldn't otherwise be available.

    If that model is right, then it may be that the best solution is to work on removing the source of the anger, but that the second-best thing to do is still to "blow off steam" in healthier ways that allow you to maintain control. In other words, "bottling it up" might still result in an explosion, even if the "steam boiler" model is incorrect.

  • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Monday November 03, 2008 @02:09PM (#25616605)

    Why do we believe anything people write on the internet to begin with? How many fiction authors write under assumed names?

    Why do we assume the bullshit detector only gets turned on from "known false" sources. It should always be on, even when watching the nightly news.

    Fact doesn't come from people, fact comes from inanimate objects. There is value in what people write, it's just not about gaining information. Sometimes even a frothy AC has a unique perspective on something. It may be justified with total trash data, but that doesn't make the perspective invalid.

  • Re:Positive thing (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 03, 2008 @02:47PM (#25617099)

    I think a third approach, in which you channel your anger into a harmless activity, is much better. This can be anything from chopping wood to working out with boxing gloves on a heavy bag, to playing video games.

    Personally, I like to fire up an ultra-violent video game and take out a few hundred virtual enemies. By the time I'm done, I'm no longer angry, and can barely remember what got me so heated up in the first place. Nobody has been yelled at, no one has been harmed, and I feel much better.

    You NEED an outlet for your aggression. Yelling about whatever you're angry about isn't an outlet; it's a magnifier. But an hour kicking a heavy bag, or playing Dead Space, can work wonders.

    On the other hand, if you do what the shrinks are telling you to do, you end up being like that "quiet man" everyone talks about. You know the one... The guy who finally snaps and kills half a dozen people, and everyone says "but he was such a quiet man!"

    If you want to get rid of your anger, find an unrelated activity you can take your hostility out on, and DISTRACT YOURSELF.

    Oh, and stop listening to shrinks. They generally do more harm than good.

  • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Monday November 03, 2008 @03:07PM (#25617333) Journal

    Or a toga party.

  • by postbigbang (761081) on Monday November 03, 2008 @06:29PM (#25619661)

    You see, there are those of us that believe that unless directly challenged, violence is unnecessary. Part of this is the fact that we have a problem as a species with violence that dates back to a time when it was all we had to defend ourselves and engender discipline. Civility requires we examine alternates, or we all succumb to murderous and violent tendencies.

    Diplomacy in various forms can work. Appeasement isn't necessarily good diplomacy. That's what Chamberlin did before WWII, where others of my ancestry fought. Some are buried in Europe. So it goes. Then, there was a direct threat.

    We ignore African violence because the caucasians in power in the US aren't of African origin, and so they don't believe they have a 'dog in that fight'. In Darfur, so many have been displaced, killed, raped, maimed, and otherwise have been victims of violence as we turned away.

    We went to the Balkans, where they fight wars of their ancestors dating to 400CE. We kept ethnic Albanians from certain death, after many were slaughtered wholesale.

    But we supported the deaths of millions of supposed communists in Indonesia by Suharto and broad parts of SE Asia during the 1950s. These are all facts. Look them up. None of it had to happen. None of it. Fear brings about violence.

    Part of the success of the United States has been internal liberty. I defend that liberty constantly. That the US government has been the perpetrator of violence across the world doesn't seem to be easily remembered by the populace. So many wars, so little time. Most of the wars not easily remembered were at the behest of protecting almighty US business interests. Never mind that innocents were slaughtered. It was the businesses that mattered and so we floated Marines into Central America, Asia, Africa, and to a much lesser extent, the Middle East.

    There are some cultures that believe that violence is perfectly acceptable in terms of a societal disciplining method. Humans are treated like animals. It's amazing the don't eat people, as the regard for their lives is small. It's been that way, and the advance of civilization requires dignifying life, and reducing violence that's otherwise incumbent.

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