Why do people behave differently online?

I am forum administrator for a car enthusiast site, a role I have been in for a little over a year now. As admin I guess I take a little more notice of what happens on this forum and it has been an interesting case study on human behaviour.

What never ceases to amaze me is the way some people conduct themselves when they can hide behind their computer screen. I must say the vast majority of people on the forum are sincere, kind, helpful people, but every now and again someone decides to go on the rampage, attacking all and sundry in their wake.

I liken a forum to a dinner party at someone’s house. If there is someone there you don’t like you don’t join in their conversation, or at the very least don’t address them direct. On a forum the attitude seems different. All of a sudden the angry person has a right to speak, not just in turn but on their soap box, and everybody must listen. If anyone disagrees then that is a personal attack on them and grounds for immediate verbal (textual?) assault!

I have seen this time upon time on various forums, on various subjects, and it does seem the same wherever you go. People who no doubt in normal everyday life would probably never say boo to a goose somehow seem to gain confidence and a lot of agression. Is it that they have something to make up for in life? Why are they this angry?

I can only assume these people are not like this usually, as it seems so common that if they were you would see it in the office, in restaurants, in the bank and on the street. Maybe I just live in a good neighborhood, but it doesn’t seem all that common.

Sometimes things do escalate, but on a well moderated forum these things get dealt with fairly quickly and fairly well, but the question still arises, where do these people come from, and why are they so angry?

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

2 replies
  1. Lyndi
    Lyndi says:

    This is one of the reasons why I do not really frequent forums. ‘Well moderated’ forums are not so easy to find. The other problem that I have with forums is the ‘cliques’ one finds amongst the members. If one is not part of one of these ‘cliques’ it is very hard to fit in and somehow you always feel like an outsider.

  2. Jim
    Jim says:

    I know what you mean about the cliques. My forum has a lot of the older drivers on there (shhhh, don’t tell them I said that) and they tend to be a little more respectful than some of the younger generation, I’m sorry to say. I have enjoyed building up the community though, it certainly has been an eye-opener for me.


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