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Why Is It OK To Be Mean Online?

Thankfully in the many many years I’ve been online, I’ve managed to avoid drama (with a few exceptions) but I know that but I know that many of my friends have had this experience, and I wanted to hear your opinions on why people do it.

As you lot know far too well by now (especially if you follow me on Twitter), my boyfriend has been away on business for over a fortnight. (He came back yesterday, woo hoo!) At the weekends, when he eventually finds some free time, this means trying to catch up on everything else thats been going on during the week, trying to relax – and included in both of these things, faff about online.

A famous businessperson was talking about prime numbers for some reason, and Alex replied with an example of a large prime number. The businessperson retweeted it. I thought I’d have a look at what people were replying with – perhaps they had joined in the number geeking on a Sunday night.

So many of the responses were just rude. (Annoyingly, Twitter search wont go back that far, and Google Twitter search isn’t great) Want to see the actual tweet?

I know I sound like a crazy girlfriend, but honestly, I’d be pissed if this was directed at any of my friends. I restrained myself from giving abuse back (I’m far too lazy to do that, and most of the time, no response at all drives rude people online crazy.)

It got me thinking though – why did these people think that the best reply they could give was irrelevant and rude? I fail to see how a response other than “here’s the next one in the sequence” (etc) is justified.

Its very easy to hide behind a computer screen (or mobile phone). Just this week, Letters of Note disabled comments, due to “a fast growing section of society to whom the concept of even vaguely civil discussion means nothing”. How sad, that blog owners feel like they can’t allow conversations to happen on their own website.

So, to the original question. Why do people act like this online? Would they be this rude in “real life”?

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