How do we cope with online anger? That is the subject of today’s essay.
We all get angry sometimes. We can be angry about things we read online, or angry at things we encounter offline (‘in real life’, as I like to call it) and then are tempted to express our anger online.
The problem with expressing anger online is that we run the risk of leaving a plaque set in concrete on the walls of the internet testifying to our own idiocy. Once something is written on a webpage it often stays written. Even if it is deleted then search engines will have picked it up and it wil be transmitted onwards to future generations who will marvel at how foolish we were and then place the worst examples in a Museum of Online Stupidity.
As bloggers we have a responibility to speak the truth as far as we are aware of it. It is tempting to lash out at people or organisations who have done us wrong. I do it all the time. But then again often by speaking out we have the chance to warn other people so that they do not buy or use the services of Idiots, of whom there are many. I suppose we should be careful not to overstate the case. The problem with writing a humourous column is that overstating the case is what makes people laugh (Sometimes, at least. I would not like to assume that people are laughing all the time).
It is important to express your anger somehow though. Unexpressed anger is a road to all sorts of inner turmoil. I should know. But writing it down online is perhaps not the best form of therapy. Try something like scrumpling up a ball of paper. Go on – scrumple that paper!
I know of one internet bulletin board that has a special area set aside where people can be angry with each other. The idea is that by containing the anger it does not spill over into the discussion in other areas of that website. Does it work? Well, yes, sort of. As long as you don’t take everything written in that space too seriously.
I still think though that in that example and on the internet generally people later regret typing things that they would not say if they were face to face, human being to human being. We hide behind our pseudonyms and our blog pages because it makes it easier for us to speak out. But after the dust has settled I at least find that when I have expressed myself strongly I wish that I had toned it down a bit.
There is one exception to all of this. People who make unsolicited telephone calls. They deserve everything they get*.
*The final paragraph was included to inject a note of humour into the proceedings. If you only take one thing away from today’s message let it be the lovey-dovey stuff beforehand about loving your neighbour, teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony etc etc.