Ron Rosenbaum

Medical Diagnosis of Anonymity Abusers: Cyber Disinhibition

It feels good to push back against a tidal wave of idiocy, or, as I’ve called a different form of idiocy “A Tsunami of Stupidity”. As someone said, “one man in the right is a majority.” And I think that this is an important web and blog issue, that the future of blogging will be decided for better or worse (I suspect for worse) if the cowardly anonymous commenters are allowed to prevail with their abusive bullying.

It’s satisfying to see how many of you abusive anonymous commenters I’ve put on the defensive. Surprising how many have come to the defense of the poster of anti-semitic epithets. I think, when I’m being charitable, that a lot of you have never stopped to consider how crude and offensive you sound when you’re sputtering with rage at the suggestion that you should examine your behavior and consider that it looks cowardly, sociopathic and subliterate to civilized people. But my intention was to draw out the dregs of the commentariat; I’m fully aware that most PJM commenters aren’t abusive cowards, but now we know which ones are.

I think deep down inside the ones who are, are not pure sociopaths or learning disabled because in their own inarticulate way they evince shame at their own conduct. (Again I’m talking about the anonymous abusive ones among you, we all know who you are now). Shame that they’re too timid to put their name behind their vicious posts, but rather hide like little cowards behind screen names. And I love the idea that it’s because you’re making brave political arguments that the State would otherwise persecute you for. Yes, the state really has reason to fear the likes of you. And it’s laughable when you consider the really high level of penetrating political discourse you’ve shown. LOL.

But I think the rage is derived from the shame they must feel, because many of these specimens, must have had respectable parents who they know would be ashamed of their childlike behavior. I can’t imagine anyone admitting to their mother, “Mom I’m a grown-up now, at least in age, and I’ve become the kind of loser who hurls subliterate obscene abuse at people I disagree with online, using a fake name in order to escape responsibility. Are you proud of me, Mom? Wanna here my latest insult?” Yes, I bet she’d be proud of how you turned out. Maybe one reason for anonymity among at least the more crude and vicious among you is that you’re afraid your parents might discover how you’ve turned out.

Well, sad losers, I have a diagnosis for your disability. It’s a phrase I’ve used before but slipped my mind in writing my last two posts on this subject: cyber disinhibition. It’s the devolution of civility (if there was any there before) that comes when conversations are not held face to face and one doesn’t have to take into account the presence, reactions, sensibilitities–being–of another human being. It ususally refers to e-mail, but it certainly applies to anonymous abusive commenters and the way they’re turning the web into a sewer. They’re dis-inhibited, their mouths are like pre-toilet trained children, they lose the inhibitions and self control that make civilized discourse possible, become verbally, socially incontinent, They haven’t merely lost their humanity, metaphorically they’ve devolved to a pre-civilized species of human. Gibbering like the cavemen over the obelisk in 2001. And of course what’s great is the transparent way they can dish it out but can’t take a critique. And yes, I’ve said some harsh things, but I use my name, andwhile thee are some defenses for anonymity for various reasons, but when it comes to abusive comenting it only exacerbates the hatefulness of the hater.

Anyway I’d hate to think the dregs of the anonymous abusers among the commenters here represent the norm of the human species. No I don’t think so. I think we’ve diagnosed the problem: cyber disinhibition is a kind of mental disease, that turns them from putative grown-ups into playground bullies and cowards.

I don’t think know of any cure for the disease of cyber disinhibition. It must be intoxicating hurling those half baked insults and then running away to hide your heads. But to judge from the comments it turns some people into depraved caricatures of their better selves.

What still stuns me is that some of them either can’t read or are reading- challenged or comprehension blind. Although I’ve repeated it in both posts, it’s not about politics it’s a dynamic, cyber-disinhibition, you see on both liberal and conservative blogs. It’s the race-to-the-bottom dynamic of commenter culture. Once again, for the extremely slow; it’s not the politics, its the anonymity that is key to the problem; the lack of responsibility, accountability, the mob psychology. You’ve demonstrated it admirably in this little experiment I conducted on you, (Keep it up and I’ll just have more examples to cite) and I’m grateful, but I still get commenters trying to make it a liberal and conservative thing, I know enough intelligent conservatives to know that the sampling here is unrepresenative and embarrassing to them. But to deny the majority of spittle flecked frothers here identify themselves as conservative is insane. What planet do you live on?

And to repeat I have no obligation to approve abusive anonymous posts, or abusive, bigoted, obscene posts of any kind. And I’ll delete any anonymous posts I consider to be so. Why don’t you run your next brilliant gob of spittle past your parents first, like the 13 year old boys you sound like should?

But the good new is your cyber disinhibition disease is not totally incurable. There’s a cure: just try posting something with your real name. You’ll discover something–well some of you are too far gone–but many of you will discover something you haven’t experienced for a while; self respect. it will feel good. You’ll be on your way to recovery. i wish you well.