I’ve been participating on message boards for close to a decade. But the last 6 months or so posting here and then meeting a lot of Forumosans has really driven home a point: People’s on-line personas tend to skew towards the negative.
In forums, personalities skew towards the sarcastic, defensive, petty, and narrow-minded, to create a short list which could easily be expanded.
Why is this? A lot of Forumosans have met one another. Yet, even after meeting ‘in person,’ where more genial personalities are revealed, the Mr. Hyde reversion continues on-line.
Why? Is it the nature of the medium? Do most people enjoy pressing others’ buttons, while having their own buttons pressed? Does the immediacy of the written form create an urgency in which people feel the need to defend and provoke, rather than explain and resolve? Is there something about the faceless, democratic nature of the Internet that transcends power structures and social roles which exist in the face-to-face world, allowing each person to assume an alpha male/female role?