“Oh, the anonymity of the internet makes people behave badly!”
“If we just used real names, there people wouldn’t be as vicious.”
“Oh, that’s just 20-something guys in internet chatrooms. That’s how they all are.”
On the contrary, the viciousness we see, isn’t just a side effect of the internet. It’s a side effect of our culture.
No, I would go beyond that. It isn’t a side effect of our culture. It *is* our culture.
Why would I ever say this? I mean, everyone knows that those anonymous trolls on reddit would *never* act like that in the real world. It’s the structure of the internet that allows them to be assholes. Everyone knows that if we just avoid the problematic sites, like reddit, or the skeptics movement, or, well, anywhere else online, we wouldn’t have to deal with this.
People do act like that in the real world.
(If you don’t know Emily’s blog, you ought to. She doesn’t post often, but what she does post is really good. This one from last year still gets me.)