Tom Daley Shows the Pros and Cons of Anonymous Online Comment Sections

Most of us rely so much on social media and technology that we are lost without it. As a result, we spend countless hours online, some of which is productive but most of which is not. Spending so much time online can have its roots, related to feelings of depression or anxiety which most people under stress face on a daily basis. Sometimes, it appears as though we take out our frustrations on people we don’t know online which is not always healthy.

It seems as though bashing “trolling” online are commonplace, but should it be? An article in Scientific American pointed towards Art Markman, a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, who noted that aggression and rudeness can be seen in the comments of any web page, most of which are anonymous. It is also a lot easier to write one’s feelings rather than say them out loud. Markman also noted that “tone of voice and gesture can have a large influence on what someone is saying. The farther away from real, face-to-face dialogue the harder it is to communicate.” This rings true when looking through comments on news websites or more specifically in the comments section of a topic which is controversial. However, as this Forbes article points out, people can be mean or hurtful both online and off. At times, relationships are more at stake rather than one’s own identity.

At the same time, people will stand up for someone who becomes a victim of hate or bashing at the expense of someone they do not even know online. An example of this can be seen in the quick way fans and supporters reacted when British Olympic diver, Tom Daley, received a tweet in reference to his dad which had nothing to do with his diving. The point is that the supporters saw that there was some hate towards the diver and quickly voiced their concerns. However, some note that it could be seen as unsettling how Twitter users came together so quickly to form a mob around one person. Words can have a powerful effect on how people view others, especially online when one is free to say as they please.

So then why do it, if it does nothing to solve the problem? This seems to be the question that many are asking themselves. Things like spewing hate speech and trying to sound overconfident online can only lead to more conflicts. The human mind needs to be reminded that it is not alone, whether that is by strange relationships online or rallying to support someone they hardly know. A recent study done by psychologists at the University of Buffalo found that people were actually nice, depending on their hormone receptor genes. While this is good information to know, the behavior which we assume online is not always the one we have in real life. If you want to be happy and healthy, then you must understand that in the online world what we see and read may not be a real portrait of any one person. 

While the internet will continue to be a part of our lives, at times online one must remember to be sane and not to lose one's temper because it solves nothing.