Why are people so mean on the internet? There are lots of reasons why, but first let me say that there is a ton of kindness on the internet as well. The bad stuff always gets the most attention however. So let’s take a look at what makes so much of the internet a factory of mean.
You don’t have to go any further than Youtube comments to see some of the nastiest comments on all of the world wide web. They start out negative, get worse, turn racist or sexist, then go nuclear with threats of violence. Youtube comments are hands down some of the worst thoughts put to a keyboard on Earth. Why is this? I’m guessing that these commenters have nothing better to do. They have too much free time on their hands. Watching videos is really time consuming since you can’t rush through them like a blog post or book. Idle time is the devil’s workshop as they say.
Need to see more meanness, then head to Twitter for a troll fest. It’s super easy to say mean stuff just for effect. Just find a celebrity or semi-famous person to pounce on and let the nastiness ensue. Why do people do this on Twitter? They want attention, either from the Twitterverse or from the person they are harassing. If the troll can’t get attention in any other way, then some negative attention is better than none at all in their eyes. So they get that attention the only way possible for them, they get mean. Ashley Judd is in the news for being threatened over basketball comments she made on Twitter. People think it’s OK to talk violently to folks over the internet over something meaningless like a basketball game. I love sports, but the morons who go as far as death threats because of a game are some of the lowest forms of humanity.
Another reason the internet gets overwhelmed with meanness is that people are so disconnected. Road rage happens because the people are separated by a big automobile. Humans would not scream obscenities at each other face to face in most cases. The “shield” of a car makes it OK to act a fool. the same is true online. We simply do not see each other in the same way online. Digital pictures are not the same as a person, living and breathing. When we have no connection to the world of physical people it makes it seem alright to call someone some nasty name. Most normal people wouldn’t do the same to someone that they saw face to face on a regular basis.
If you ever wondered why the news only shows the bad parts of society, it’s because that’s what interests people. The bad stuff gets attention by virtue of it being different. People being generally nice to each other in the real world isn’t news. Carjackings and murders are not the norm so they make the news. The internet is a version of this. No one is going to get the spotlight by saying “Have a nice day” on Twitter. Threaten someone or just throw around some obscenities and you have a better chance of getting noticed. It’s too bad that mean folks do get noticed on occasion for all the wrong reasons. There is plenty of good on the net so we need to take note of that as well.