Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Loss of Character on Online Forums

Due to some recent occurrences, was looking at why some people are extremely rude & inconsiderate (cosnideration is not to be mistaken with political correctness) on Online forums like blogs, emails, discussion groups etc.

Prof Shukla steered me to 2 briliant articles that he has written long back which are very relevant even today.

Essentially this rudeness/hatred/anger/intolerance/arrogance seems to come from the anonymity of Online forums. So people write things they may not necessarily have been able to say face-to-face.

The First Article speaks of

Primitive Process on the Internet
An article by Prof Robert M Young, Professor of Psychotherapy and Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Sheffield, makes two insightful points:

1. "One of the most striking features of email forums... is that people can experience almost no impediment to expressing themselves — for good or ill. Cyberspace has a fantasy quality. As a result, people say the most intimate thing and the most horrid things with considerable ease....

2. "...where people can be whomsoever they like. They change their genders, their degree of assertiveness, their sexual predilections at will. Anything goes...

Read The Entire Article by Prof. Shukla

The Second Article speaks of
Group-Think in Online Chat Groups

Internet is a great democratic medium. But I stumbled on an interesting "real"(/virtual)-life event - a particular online discussion forum - during last few days. Searching for an explanantion about what was happening in this forum (what would look to be a case of collective pathology), led to some interesting resources about what can happen in an Online Community.

Gordon Graham in his book, The Internet: A Philosophical Inquiry [see summary], makes an interesting observation about the online groups, and their "pure confluences of interest".

Graham says that the internet is a medium which enables people to seek out exclusively kindred spirits and to avoid ever being exposed to views which are contrary to their own. He claims that... "the self-made philosopher with a grand but completely vacuous 'theory of everything' will sooner or later find a coterie of people whose knowledge and critical acumen is even less, but who are willing to be impressed."

The Symptoms of Group Think are:

1) Illusion of Invulnerability
2) Belief in Inherent Morality of Group
3) Collective Rationalization
4) Stereotypes of Out-Groups
5) Self-Censorship
6) Illusion of Unanimity
7) Direct Pressure on Dissenters
8) Self-Appointed Mind-Guards

Give the nature of the self-selection in most online chat groups, these symptoms are quite likely to emerge.

Entire Article

Just thought these articles were worth bringing up again since they were last published in 2004.


laks said...


good stuff... and a lot of research..

I think i am the same everywhere. Online or offline. My online relationships are more of disasters.

Keep up the research.


Anonymous said...

Just like it is easier to kill with a gun than with bare hands...

Kim said...

Thanks Laks,

Credit goes completely to Prof Madhukar Shukla an expert on Behaviour, who did the research.

I just linked to his posts.

laks said...

yeah...and i can relate to what happened "virtually". Neways... some people just explode when u touch some nerve. They believe that shouting loudly makes people followers... much the same as taliban threatening people if they did not follow their faith.

Such people are moral fundamentalists who do not mind imposing themselves on others. Good that u kept away after that.

Anonymous said...

Are you from Bandra?

Kim said...

Thanks. You can engage in debate with someone who is willing to listen. When someone is just shut to any new view points or experiences then its just a waste of your own energy. I don't think the reply post deserved my attention, let alone a reply. Later heard from a lot of other bloggers about the "arrogance" & "attitude" problems. So I think I did the right thing : ) Thanks for being one of so many who confirmed it.

Y r u asking if I'm from Bandra ? I don't even know your name & U want to know where I'm from ????? Y should I tell u ? Gimme a good enough reason, I'll give u a good answer. Or maybe you can check my other bloghttp://whazzupmumbai.blogspot.com for clues......

Travelling for a coupla days. More when I'm back.

Kim said...


U look very different in this photo & the one on your blog .... Same person ???

Anonymous said...

kim..chill out..the only reason i asked you is because i m from bandra ..anyway forget about it..

laks said...

Yep i am the same person... i had a Big moustache while i was on the blog photo...

He he he... people get really confused.. i can disguise myself very well

Kim said...

hey Anon,
Nothing against u man. But I was getting some really nasty flame mail n wasn't sure if it was one of those aggressive buggers asking, so they could land at my place with uzi's & ak 47's threatening me with my life to buy into their point of view.....

Well I vist Bandra a lot but not from there.

btw I still don't know yr name ?

Vikas Chawla said...

Hey Kim/Karishma Pais,

Hope you are a doing great. I am a budding trainer and was hoping to connect to you on Linkedin if you can give me your email address.

Vikas Chawla
HR Intern, Taj Coromandel
Part Time Facilitator, Born to Win Learning Services (www.borntowin.co.in)
Former President, AIESEC Chennai (www.aiesec.org/india/chennai)
Mobile: +91 9940193825
Website: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vikaschawla
MSN: jvc85@hotmail.com

"You may say, I am a Dreamer - but, I am not the only one"

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