Opinion : Is the internet making us angry?
Words: Caroline Foran
Many great things have come from the advent of things like Facebook, Twitter and of course the internet in general. Such inventions, aided by the birth of people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg (among others) saw the heralding of a new and exciting dawn for mankind; instantly, the world became a smaller place; global businesses flourished; your cousin interning in Toyko was now contactable at the click of a button and if you really wanted to tell Lady GaGa that she'd inspired you to don a pack of streaky bacon to your best friend's wedding, you could do so with just one tweet and no need for fan mail. You might even get a reply, if you're lucky.
The development of the blogosphere and later the twittersphere meant that in terms of media consumption, you were no longer limited to the opinions expressed by local publications. Now, you could say what you want, whenever you want about whatever you want. Online, everyone's now a critic.
All good things, you'll agree. However there are a few not-so-positive side effects to come from this freedom of expression online, one of which I'm noticing more and more of late: I'm all for a spot of healthy debate but I worry, is the internet making us angry? And, *awaitsbacklash* is this online rage, for lack of a better term, slightly more prevalent among men as Guardian journalist Patrick Barkham suggests?
Take Huey Morgan and Joey Barton's recent twitter outbursts for example. The former tarnished his ice-cool image by taking to the social media outlet to condemn those that had been awarded by Sony for excellence in radio while he went home empty handed:"They ain't gonna let some dude from NYC win this sh*t. Fern, Lauren, Chris. Yeah right, that's cool? Suckers they come a dime a dozen..." and "fuck that shit" were among his reactionary comments. (More on that here) While the latter, Barton, logged on to Twitter after royally pissing off everyone in the footballing world (again) to lambaste fellow footballer Alan Shearer. "I really don't like that prick, in fact I honestly despise him" said the defensive Barton before picking a fight with Mr Nice Guy himself, Gary Lineker.
In the same way social media has bestowed us with a newfound confidence where flirting and the early days of dating are concerned - "I'll give him a Facebook poke first, to see if he's interested" - so too has it spawned a "f*ck it, I'll say what I want" attitude, when something really irks us. And sometimes we're not even that irked at all, we'll just make an inflammatory statement for the sake of it. The thing is though, we only have the balls to do this when safe behind the screens of our computers. You may well leave a nasty comment under an article or in an online forum but if you came face to face with your subject, would you, for example, tell them you think they should feck off back to journalism school because they overlooked a misplaced comma in their review that you just didn't like? Would you tell your co worker that they're shit at their job and didn't deserve to win that award? Would Huey? Unless he'd just gotten off the blower with Kanye West it's highly doubtful.
It's the same with road rage: You bump into a passer by on the street and regardless of whether it was your fault or theirs, you smile and apologise before continuing on your way (unless you're just a total bastard to begin with). However, if someone gets in your way while you're behind the wheel of a car, it'll more likely be a well-mouthed 'wanker', a 'drive your car you f*cking asshole' and a brief exchange of two-fingered gesticulations before you speed off into the sunset. The internet, I believe, is having a similarly unhealthy effect on us.
How many YouTube videos have you watched where you've found the most ardently aggressive back and forths contained within the comments box? How many times have you yourself been caught up in an online dialectic?
It's one thing to engage in a constructive if somewhat heated debate. It's another to tear down someone's character just because you can. Without the time or the expertise to fully explore the correlation between our social media usage and our passive aggressive online behaviour, never mind investigating whether it is in fact a guy thing, (again, that's Barkham's hypothesis, not mine) I arrive at my only conclusion: either the internet is encouraging rampant hostility simply because there are no real repercussions to be endured, or, we're all walking around inherently pissed off, harboring deep seated frustrations yet lacking the conviction to step out from behind our computer screens to voice them.
Whichever it is, I'd advise Huey, Joey and everyone else to think before you tweet, or comment, or whatever it is you do. You've heard the phrase, 'if you haven't got anything nice to say, don't say anything at all'? Well how's this: if you haven't got the balls to stand by what you say in person, don't just say it online; it's weak, it's futile and it can't possibly be good for you.
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Friday 25th May 2012 | Other
Interesting article. I think the ol t'internet is definitely making us a bit angrier..well some of us!Posted 09:59 | Fri 25th May 2012
Nice piece. My take on it is people are as angry now as they ever were. What has changed are peoples' multitude of platforms to vent this anger.Posted 11:23 | Fri 25th May 2012
very easy for people to abuse when hiding behind a keyboard. The ending of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back always makes me laugh. Youtube that!Posted 11:45 | Fri 25th May 2012
Great article. I think the keyboard warriors out there tend to be 10-15 year old boys who are pretty insecure and use the internet as an outlet for their teenage frustrations. Better that, than shooting up a classroom I suppose, but YouTube rants have become very boring more than anything else.Posted 12:26 | Sun 27th May 2012
Youtube is the best thing since sliced bread but the comments section is more often than not just a communal toilet for the mental diarrhea of what 'seem' to be seriously aggro teenage boys...If anything the internet has reminded me of the importance of good manners and general politeness in real life and online.Posted 21:56 | Sat 26th May 2012
Crackin' piece Caroline! I reckon that a lot of this spur of the moment commenting / tweeting will come back to bite people in the arse when looking for employment or when confronted in person by the defamed. Some (a lot of) people seem too quick to jump into a spur of the moment tweet or facebook comment without thinking it through. Bleedin' dopes!Posted 12:09 | Fri 25th May 2012
is just easy for people to throw abuse into their computers, but somehow forget how instantly and permanent their rants are.Posted 22:23 | Thu 31st May 2012
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