Engaging With The Internet Can Be Hazardous For Your Health

2010 seems to have kicked off with a bit of a blogging bang (and not in a good way). Not only did I manage to cause a bit of a shit-storm myself (which in retrospect was a little bit akin to a 10 year old hitting a hornet’s nest with a baseball bat and then crying when he got stun) but then Matt (from World of Matticus) revealed that he got shafted over by Blizzard, an event only to be followed quickly by the ol’ chestnut that is the Tobold vs Syncaine rivalry (to put it politely). Fortunately the latter has come to a close and everything seems to be returning to a sense of normality in the world of the Interweb. Perhaps.

Beware of the Internet!

Beware of the Internet!

I was just starting to relax again when I was cruising around the cyber streets of Netville and I found some rather impolite feedback to a comment I had posted on a blog the other day. It was very mild really and didn’t offend me but it did make me wonder what the heck is happening to the Internet. It seems like as it’s growing it’s becoming an ever more hostile environment absolutely lacking in any restraint whatsoever. Or maybe it’s just that I’m noticing it more for the first time. Or maybe we’re just becoming more thin-skinned to abrupt feedback. Or maybe I’m just developing a new found knack for pissing people off.

I can honestly say that I’ve barely written anything, anywhere that I wouldn’t say to someone’s face in real life. Of course, in real life I can inject humour or sarcasm or subtly into my tone making it apparent what I mean and how I mean it and I can’t do that on the Internet. I have to rely on you guessing how I mean something and that doesn’t work very well.

I’m far from perfect but still, I don’t think I’ve ever just blatantly called someone an idiot or a dick (or worse) on a forum or in a game over something they said. I don’t think that way and I tend to not get emotional about people’s personal opinions. Yet this type of thing happens a lot on the ‘net and I can’t decide if people honestly think and behave that way in real life or if they only do it because of the protection that the anonymity of the Internet provides.

Either way, the Interweb seems to be a pretty strange place to reside these days and whether it’s in blogs, forums or within our favourite MMORPG, there always seem to be some drama going on, always, without any exception, over something incredibly petty. And if don’t think these cyber arguments are petty, I’d recommend you buy a ticket to the sunny destination of Haiti. I believe it’s selling a discounted lifetime subscription to something called perspective.

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  1. Gnomeaggedon says:

    I think there has been an influx of official forum readers and wow.com readers to the smaller blogs lately, and with them a reasonable percentage of trolls.

    I don’t think the internet is any worse, just that the trolls have been let out of their cages.

  2. I’ve been online since for nearly two decades now. In that time, the internet was always like this. Some of the people who have been online longer than I will will try to say that there were more elegant words for a more civilized age in the past, but that’s nostalgia speaking in my opinion. There were spam, scams, lies, fake deaths, trolling, flaming, and all the usual BS we see today. The difference is that the actual amount is more because there are so many more people online.

    As for you, Gordon, the reason you don’t say anything mean is because you’re a halfwit Brit who is so painfully polite because you would have to put down your cup of tea in order to say anything untoward. Mean language would almost certainly make your mother’s monocle pop out of her eye, and god forbid that happen! I’ll bet you can’t even say anything mean to me in response to this!

    And now, a line of smilies: ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;)

    (P.S. I would totally say that to your face, too! ;)

  3. Xenith says:

    Totally true about saying things to people’s faces. I blogged about something similar relating to people in forums and their behaviour towards others. I have to admit, I’ve become increasingly less patient with people on the internet in general but especially in forums. I actually made the decision on one forum that I participated in that the only safe place to actually discuss anything remotely intelligent was the admin area LOL. It just felt to me like I was literally walking into a warzone everytime I posted something. Any feeling of belonging to a ‘community’ was gone. The threads all seemed to be filled with angry teenagers with nothing better to do than flame each other, or worse – fanboys putting down the rival console/platform with nothing to substantiate their arguments. And sadly, I must admit that I’ve succumbed to the odd flame-fest online. My funniest memory of that time is perusing a forum I was not a member of and reading a post from someone unknown to me calling me a wanker lol… ah good times. I’m sure you’d find that funny too if you were of the fairer persuasion :P

    • Gordon says:

      Oh I’ve succumb to the odd troll comment myself but always regretted it afterwards. I just try and ignore these things when I see it happening because it’s a just a waste of my time to engage with it otherwise.

  4. Sharon says:

    I think Brian’s completely right. Up until recently, I was one of those people who would wax nostalgic about the Golden Days of the internet, when people had to know how to read and write and we didn’t have no pretty stinkin’ graphics.

    But then I stumbled across some old debates I was involved in during the early 90s in the rec.games.mud.* Usenet groups. (Yay for Google groups for archiving this stuff). I was reminded of the scathing emails, nasty responses, name-calling and legal threats, along with all the other stuff Brian mentioned (fake deaths! lol). If anything… it was worse, because the online gaming community was pretty stinking small, and generally, people knew your real name, because a university email address gave it away.

    So I think the internet has pretty much always sucked. My patience for it is just a whole lot less.

  5. Adam says:

    @Sharon, legal threats? They must be from London …

    I’ve been on the internet for almost two decades as well. It always follows the same pattern –

    a site or topic is underground – excellent discussion, good flame wars, spirited and funny trolls.

    the same site or topic goes mainstream – things go to the poo-house.

    The person who is able to invent a way for internet users to see the real age of a poster will die smothered in a glory house of cash.

    • Elleseven says:

      @ Adam “The person who is able to invent a way for internet users to see the real age of a poster will die smothered in a glory house of cash.”

      I like this idea in theory. My laptop has a biometrics scanner doo-dad for your finger. It would be cool if it could determine age and more important social EQ and IQ. Then only “quality” sites would allow comments from pre-approved people therefore making it a status symbol to be able to post there.

  6. …because of the protection that the anonymity of the Internet provides.

    Its the same with Soccerfans. When they are in a crowd they are strong and aggressive – yelling mean words around because they think nobody will recognise them anyway. (Of cause not only soccer fans for every crowd that works as you all know) Anonymity ftw.

    Also I think it has a lot to do with personal inner anger of those people. If you are uncomfortable with your own life you will get mean with others more easily anywhere. If its on the internet, stadium or street.
    But if you are a happy dude with a nice family/wife/friends/pet/guild/wtf ever :D you would not troll around blogs/forums offending people because you dont feel like this.

    So take it easy Gordon – most times it hasent anything to do with you in personal. And if -> those people just cant take a good argument and should better p*** off because they are some mother*f****** w****** who just talk bulls***, those d****! :D :D :D :D :D :D

  7. Tesh says:


    Can’t live with ‘em, can’t throw ‘em out a window.

    Not even if you try really hard.

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