I can't definitively disagree with anything you're saying here, L56. Let's see how it evolves.

Here's LOFF56:

I hear what you're saying about the Three Stooges, but I think it's comparing apples to oranges. If you were to "act out" on things you picked up from The Three Stooges, you would have to do it in real life. But television is not interactive like the internet and the blogosphere is. Putting a wrench to somebody's face in the real world would have obvious consequences. The problem is that putting a virtual wrench to the face of an anonymous person in a virtual reality as of yet doesn't have any obvious consequences. (Well, at least not obvious to a lot of people still.) I'm not suggesting that they're right for being a-holes in virtual reality, I'm just saying that since the medium is so new people have only grown up with a general idea of how to behave in real life, nobody has ever been taught how to behave in virtual reality. There is a mental disconnect between the virtual people that they're slinging mud at on the internet and the actual real life people who are on the other side of the computer screen.

Also, anonymity in large groups is well understood to have ill effects. Mob mentality is exactly that. Individuals do things in the midsts of a large crowd that they normally would never do at any other moment. In chaotic events such as huge blackouts where lots of uncontrolled people take to the streets almost always there's a rash of vandalism, looting etc. Anonymity is exactly what "allows" people to perform immoral acts while avoiding personal responsibility. The KKK is a perfect example, generally speaking it's a large group of men covering their faces with white hoods. Deep down in the bowels of their being they must have known that hanging black people was wrong, (and the laws even said it was so), but they were able to justify to themselves doing it for so long partially because they were avoiding individual personal responsibility through anonymity provided by mob mentality and white hoods.

I'm not defending the way these mean bloggers behave, I'm just suggesting that they are all unchecked children in a candy store for the first time who haven't yet recognized the problem with gorging themselves with as much candy as possible. But as you've correctly recognized after a while you get a really bad tummy ache and you'll eventually come to the realization that it's the candy that's making you sick. But as we know not everyone learns at the same speed, some people never do. But hopefully as time progresses, more people than not will learn.

It's an interesting idea that the virtual rage could be a sort of siphon for actual rage. At first it seems logical, and maybe that's really all it is, and it's everyone else taking it all so seriously that's giving unexpected and unwarranted stock to their in-human argumentative tactics. Although interestingly, these recent Town Halls that have been so problematic from a decorum standpoint also suggest that the virtual rage is actually starting to translate into real rage - a scary prospect that seems counterintuitive to this idea.

Well, it is an interesting discussion indeed, and probably way under-researched, poorly understood and definitely not talked about enough.

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