In today's society there are many forms of internet communication including instant messaging, online forums, and Facebook. This communication has led to a greater expression of ideas, a faster way to group people together, and an efficient way to connect with people around the world. Although there are many positive aspects of virtual communication, there are also many negative aspects. Because of a user’s anonymity, deceiving tones, and the internet’s antisocial nature, virtual anger is a problem that affects internet communication.
Staring at a computer screen for hours inherently lowers one's ability to talk to people. I know that as I use technology for an extended period of time, my social skills decrease. I have also seen among my friends a negative correlation between time spent online and time spent physically with friends. Because of a decrease in social skills from being online, these friends do not have the same level of ability they previously had. This ability includes carrying on a polite and friendly conversation with someone else. When an individual loses social skills, he or she may find the need to say everything in his or her head. These thoughts often include derogatory comments and will cause anger among members of a conversation.
Another reason anger occurs so frequently when used with technology is the lack of tone and body language online. Albert Mehrabian, professor of psychology at UCLA states that 7 percent of a physical conversation are the words being said. The rest of the conversation is tone and body language. Because most forms of virtual communication only contain words, one’s meaning is often perceived wrong. For example, sarcasm is hardly ever understood online because the tone is immensely important in that form of communication. Whenever I chat with someone, I always have to be very careful when I use sarcasm; I do not wish to offend someone with an attempted joke. If the sarcasm is taken wrong, I then go through the trouble of sending multiple messages explaining my meaning so those I communicate with don’t get angry. Unfortunately, I and others often get mad online because of this miscommunication. This fact causes a lot of frustration within the cyber sphere of communication.
Behind the comfort and safety of my computer, I can say whatever I want without fear of repercussion. The ability to be anonymous online is a big cause of internet anger. On some websites users are linked to personal friends, but on other websites the users are unknown by those they interact with. Without physically seeing or knowing someone, one has the tendency to say things they never would in real life. If I’ve never met someone and he or she says something I dislike online, I have to be very cautious about inserting my opinion about their statement. Unfortunately, in many cases anonymous users will just say whatever they want online without tact or finesse. Although oftentimes these people have well-intentioned comments, as earlier stated, things can be perceived wrong online, especially things that others don’t agree with. People are more apt to be derogatory about one’s religion on the computer than in person.
One example of this is the video “10 Questions that every intelligent Christian must answer” on Youtube. Although the video itself does not contain any anger or bad-intentions, the comments are the epitome of virtual anger. The unfortunate part about this video is that a lot of these comments were written with good intentions, but were taken the wrong way and have now caused enormous anger. One way to prevent this is to ask yourself if you would say the same thing in person that you would virtually. This is an effective way of filtering remarks that would otherwise be hurtful. There is no glamour in being cruel online.
There are many ways to avoid anger online and still communicate via computers. First off, you have to be very careful with what you say and make sure that you do not sound angry or mean. Also, being straightforward with your comments helps online users to understand your message. Unfortunately, sometimes the internet can still make people mad.
The only way to completely avoid internet anger is to turn the computer off. Press the power button in the upright corner and disconnect. Reading articles for four hours long will oftentimes make you mad at politics, religion, society, etc. Stop and go see the new twilight movie with friends. Or take a road trip and build a sandcastle with your family. Then you will be calmer and be more able to once again resume internet activities. If more people logged off and took breaks then the internet could be a calmer place. Although the internet is be a great tool for communication, tensions often get high and it is your responsibility to log off and do something real.