India Knight has written a very interesting column on the nasty comments people are prepared to make online, often anonymously. Read the rest on Times Online.
“Say you’re at a party. You’re introduced to someone for the first time. In the course of conversation this complete stranger says something you don’t agree with. What do you do – keep quiet? Roll your eyes and move the conversation on? Find someone else to talk to? Do you try to convey your point of view? Stamp your foot a bit? Leave the room?
Or do you tell them they’re a mentally retarded freak and cast wild aspersions on their personal life, sexual quirks, domestic set-up, the physical attractiveness of their children, meanness to animals and so on? Do you tell them they’re so sexually undesirable they could crack a mirror at 20 paces? That they’re such a repulsive wreck you wouldn’t be surprised if their wife/husband had zillions of affairs? And then do you crank it up a notch, just to make sure?
No, you’re thinking. Of course not. I’d never do that. To which I say, not so fast. What if you were anonymous? Invisible? Would you alter your behaviour? Remember, nothing terrible has happened. You haven’t just witnessed someone beat up somebody else or hurt a child. All that’s happened is that someone has said something you don’t agree with. It has annoyed you, but it is completely irrelevant to your well-being. Still no? Well, you clearly have never posted a comment on any website, then.”