Monday, March 12, 2007

Is the Internet an excuse for (anonymous) ranting, insulting and bullying?

Visit every forum where people are looking for support and you will find edited and blocked users and posts.
Fortunately it is still a minority but it looks like rude language and pestering has become a more common behaviour.

Like hiding behind an “on-line or off-line” status as a virtual "close your eyes", hiding behind your IP seems to be a perfect way to insult people and to shout and rant if you do not receive the reply or service you were expecting.

30 odd years ago you could order items and services from catalogues either by post or by telephone. And almost everyone accepted delays because you were talking and writing to humans. Life was far from the rat race it is now and people understood that orders needed to be processed (by hand), taken from the stock department, packed, sealed, stamped, delivered at the post office, on its way to another post office and delivered with the customer.

If we order a car, settee, awning, builders, we know and accept that there is a delivery time.
But now a days, if we order via the Internet, we accept our payments to go through in seconds because there are no humans involved anymore. Ordering, paying and delivering is fully automated.
Distances of thousands of miles are reduced to seconds.
Dealing via the Internet is has become infallible.

Really??? Are we sure technique (after all that is all what Internet is depending of) is infallible?
I mean, do we really think nothing can go wrong? No connection problems, no bugs, no power failure, no overloaded servers?

Well, yes, of course we do realize that but then we expect a solution straight away, immediately, within seconds because this is the Internet.
How easily do we forget that it are still humans designing programs and dealing with the bugs and failures.
Real humans like you and me. Working for an income, in the middle of a constant learning process.
Humans who do not mind working extra hours but who can’t be expected to be up and running 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. They are no robots.

People who don’t want to understand this because they want a prompt reply to their orders and questions, seem to think the Internet is infallible and tend to treat the humans behind it as robots.
Robots without feelings, a good excuse to rant, shout, humiliate and curse.

The Internet caused a complete new language: words and abbreviations.
Most are harmless and amusing: CU2 in a lil while, bfn. Or a reply to a joke: roflol.
But also a lot which can easily be replaced for ***** Those we see more and more on the Forum.
Again, it is still a minority but it is a ten dens that if one is brave enough to use this kind of language, others finally dare to follow to become even worse. And the worst thing that can happen is your post being edited and / or locked and your profile blocked. This of course is only confirming the posters angry opinion about the company’s support. “If I don’t get the correct service when my payments don’t go through in seconds, I have the full rights to shout. And of course no body can get me, I am only an internet address.” Funny way not only to rule out your opponent’s humanity but also your own…..

I still believe the Internet is doing more good then bad. It is a very rich source of information and knowledge, an excellent way of communicating, networking and buying and selling.
And if we do this in a polite and friendly way, the Internet is a wonderful place to be.

For those who forget (or still don’t know) what Network Etiquette is, please visit “Netiquette” for a proper explanation.

Now, did you really think the lack of social behaviour over the Internet is a modern phenomenon?
Wrong… In 1999 Professor Dr. Suzan C. Herring, at the time an associate professor of linguistics at the University of Texas at Arlington, published a study about Netiquette.
From 1975 to 1986, Dr. Herring tested claims that Internet users were ruder and less inhibited when they were online. She also tested theories that users' grammar and spelling degraded over time.
Dr. Herring about one of the effects she came across in her study: “One effect is that even those who are civil and polite become rude. Why? Some people say it's inevitable with computer-mediated technology. On the Internet, there is low social accountability - a lot of people don't know each other and will never meet. There are a lot of strangers talking to strangers.

Another reason might be that you're talking into a keyboard. Because the medium is impersonal, people become impersonal.

Studies show that boys are more aggressive than girls, but there's a lot of social conditioning. I don't think the males thought they were rude. They didn't take it that seriously.”

To be honest, I am not so sure about the “They didn't take it that seriously” part anymore. Personal attacks became more common over the years.

It is not without reason that children bullying children over the Internet (also called Cyber Bullying) is now of great concern to parents and teachers. Vulnerable children become traumatized and bullies, who are not going to be corrected in their (childish) behaviour, will not learn their boundaries. Socializing will become difficult for both parties.


Our responsibility is showing social cyber behaviour. Children are our future…..

1 comment:

Anne_005 said...

I totally agree with your blog. It is a shame that some people believe that they can "hide" just to be rude. The internet has brought the world together in so many ways, and yet it has also distanced us from each other and also from ourselves. I don't believe that these internet bullies would be so "tough" in person. They are not who they really are, but only what they want others to believe what they are.