Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Anger Management

Every now and then when I'm searching for something online, I'll run across a message board or a forum. Sometimes I'll read a few posts if the topic sounds interesting. More often than not, I'm amazed at how nasty some people can be and how willing they are to be offensive to complete strangers. Have you noticed this? I don't know what it is about the anonymity of sitting at the computer that seems to bring out the worst in some people. I can't say for sure that they don't behave this way in public, but my hunch is that they use a little more self control in face to face situations.

Recently, I was on Internet Movie Database looking up some trivial information about a movie. I spent a little time reading posts on their message boards and I was shocked at how rude some of the comments were. Stating your opinion about a movie appears to be grounds for insults to your intelligence, politics, race, nationality and mental state. I can't imagine anyone making the same comments to a stranger in a video store.

News websites are no better now that so many of them have comment space after each article. To a degree, I can understand debating news stories, but it doesn't stop there. When my brother in law died last year, there was an article about it on a local newspaper's website. They mistakenly called him a "squatter", meaning that he lived in his house illegally. This wasn't true, he paid rent to live in his house, but because he was presumed to be breaking the law, these are the sorts of comments that were left at the end of the article:

"...the man sealed his own destiny. Obvioulsy his cat wasn't dumb
enough to stick around. Ohh yes PLEASE PLEASE blame this on the government and wall street."

"While I feel pity for the poor guy, I also know that his stupidity
caused property damage.... So because some guy decided to squat in an empty
house people could have lost money and all we feel sorry for is the guy that was
breaking the law by trespassing. "

These are just a few of the comments that were left by strangers after reading that a legally blind man, my brother in law, had died tragically in a house fire. I find it appalling. Would these people have said the same things to any of his family members at the funeral?

One of the few sites I've found where strangers are generally friendly to one another is the Recipe Exchange at Allrecipes. It is, in fact, the place that I met most of my online and blog friends. I have to admit, though, that I haven't been there in over a month. I used to enjoy my time there, but I needed to break away from it for a while. Not only was I spending too much time getting involved in chats, but I was finding that the nastiness of other forums was beginning to show up. In the middle of a fun conversation, a member made a completely offensive remark to the rest of us who were participating in the thread. This was not a "troll" or a "newbie", it was a regular member who has been around for a long time. Everyone ignored the remark, but I was a little shocked by it. Another incident happened last summer when a new member asked a question and three or four of the regulars jumped all over her and insulted her to the point I don't think she ever came back. It was uncalled for. Rest assured that none of my blog friends were involved.

It makes me wonder if there is an anger management forum out there.


Heidi said...

That is so true! People think they can be rude just because they can't see the other person. I think people who are not typically rude get online and let out their anger. I also haven't been on allrecipes lately because I noticed the same thing.

Raoulysgirl said...

I totally agree! It is growing more ridiculous every day.

I, too, have chosen to stay away from the Exchange. I still use my recipe box...I just didn't care for the drama and cat-fighting that was taking place...not to mention the side-taking.

Perhaps these people hold in their opinions and anger until they get online...then let it rip? Whatever the excuse, it's totally inappropriate and uncalled for in most cases. If they need to vent, do like the rest of us...start a blog!!!

Lissaloo said...

It is truly appalling, I have noticed this same thing time after time online in many sites, it is really sad. I too haven't been on the AR exchange for awhile. What used to be a fun, friendly place to hang out became something different rather quickly. I don't like to hear or read nasty negative things, so I generally avoid reading the comment sections. People can be really nasty. I am really grateful for the wonderful friends I have meet on AR, there are some really great people out there, as well as all the nasty ones :)

Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

Wow, looks like I'm not the only one who has stopped using the Exchange; I think some people just have no moral compass when it comes to the internet. And the comments left about your brother in law were so uncalled for, but I learned the hard way not to trust the media/journalists to get it right.

abby jenkins said...

You said it. I am shocked and offended by most of the comments on YouTube. What is wrong with these people??

thamesarino said...

wow, who knew that no one from the AR bloggers was using the AR exchange anymore? I didn't like the meaness I was seeing either. I don't understand why people feel like typing is any different than speaking... but they do. sad really.

L.B. said...

Believe it or not, there are tons of Internet Tough Guys out there. It's so easy to lob verbal bombs to people when you do it anonymously.

Through my paying job I'm often a target of these Internet Tough Guys. There have been some downright nasty stuff said about me on message boards, and most of those clowns wouldn't have the balls to say that to my face. I avoid message board sites whenever possible.

The exchange used to be way more fun than it is now. I still go there but it's not as enjoyable as it was. I attribute it to the influx of new posters and the absence of awesome ones like all of our little Bloggers Bloc here.