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Cyber disinhibition

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This phenomenon has been recognized since the earliest days of the Internet (then the Arpanet, used by a small circle of scientists) as "flaming," the tendency to send abrasive, angry or otherwise emotionally "off" cyber-messages. The hallmark of a flame is that the same person would never say the words in the email to the recipient were they face-to-face. His inhibitory circuits would not allow it — and so the interaction would go more smoothly. He might still communicate the same core information face-to-face, but in a more skillful manner.

Thought some of you might like to read this, especially my former colleagues who're still trying to deal with the troublemakers.

It seems so obvious once you think about it, but how many of us can say we've thought it? At one time I often wondered why I could so easily communicate with people through the internet but not when I could see and hear the person. Perhaps it's something like this.


I wonder, how many of EL's forum reading, college going populace is studying psychology?

Edited by Hazor

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very good point and i do agree, but i wonder why the author neglected to point out the positive as well?


i think one of the reasons people are more 'open' on the net is for one (for myself anyways), you have more time to sit and think about what you write and how you write it. the good as well as the bad.

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sure, lack of traditional feedback about your social contact may be part of it... but I think just as common it's because there's far less fear of reprisal online.

unlike IRL, you aren't risking being punched by insulting someone, etc. in fact, the anonymity that is sometimes quite good can also be quite bad, when people use it to cause trouble (flaming, attacking websites, whatever) with a lot less risk than doing similar things IRL

quite often the people with grandiose nicknames online who appear to be the tough guys, if met in real life, wouldn't look at all like their online image suggests. if you get picked on IRL, well, you can always act tough online and feel better by picking on someone else in an arena that's safer for you

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It's interesting that it seems 'flaming' is more prominent in chat rooms and forums than email or IM's. Maybe there is some unconscious societal need for witnesses to the statement and showing off in front of others.


If you look at the history of press media in the Western world, when newspapers, broadsheets, pamphlets, became easier to print; the content instantly turned to some hardcore political flaming. Private communication was always more civil.


There are many styles of music worldwide that include 'competitions' in public or on stage where two or more singers try to outdo or put down each other. These are always done ad lib, at the spur of the moment, and never rehearsed.


I guess what I mean is it's not internet specific, but it sure shows up more often and is flamier than anywhere else!!


That, and you're all a wacky-ward full of boneheaded poo-throwing howler monkeys with ugly disease!! ;)

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