Why People Are Such Assholes on the Internet

Why People Are Such Assholes on the Internet

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Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time on internet message boards, chatrooms, or comment sections has, at some point:

  1. Had their political views compared to that of Hitler’s.
  2. Had their sexual orientation, sexual experience or sexual prowess challenged or ridiculed.
  3. Suffered from threats of physical violence, both against themselves and their mothers.
  4. Had sarcastic cat pictures posted to make fun of them.

The internet has a way of bringing out the worst in people. You may think that the internet simply allows people to say what they were already thinking anyway. But I disagree. It goes further than that. It’s not that people were already thinking these things but never had the courage to say them in person.

There’s something about the internet that warps our perceptions of one another.

Case in point: in many cases problems and disagreements that arise on the internet magically disappear in person.

grumpy-cat-ill-deck-the-halls-with-blood-cat-memeFor example, when I lived in Boston, I was a member of a private men’s group. We had maybe 100 members, a private message board, and would get together a couple times a month.

As with any internet forum, dozen-page long arguments would erupt over inane subjects such as who should pay for dates or which government policies were causing economic problems. Sometimes these arguments would escalate to name-calling and insults, and even in some cases, people threatening to leave the group entirely because of the amount of “disrespect” that would get lobbed around.

Yet, inevitably, at the next meeting we’d all end up in some restaurant sharing beers and laughs as if nothing happened. If the topic of the argument did arise in person, people would shrug it off and say it was no big deal. Or in some cases, they’d resolve the disagreement within minutes of speaking face-to-face.

Back in the early 2000′s, video game tournaments caught on and became a big thing. If you managed to reach a world-class level at a game such as Quake 3 or Counterstrike, you could fly around the world and win thousands of dollars for your skills. I became particularly good at Unreal Tournament, winning pretty much every small tournament in Texas and often placing well in the larger national tournaments. So as I got older, I actually had the opportunity to meet a lot of these angry screen names in person.

Meeting people you knew online at these big tournaments was kind of a big deal. We took the games seriously, so many of us spent more time online with each other than we did with our real life friends. Tensions were often high. People split into factions and took sides against one another over petty disagreements or stupid grudges. Sometimes people threatened to bring their friends to the events to kick another person’s ass in person. A few times even death threats were thrown around. If you went simply by the chat logs, you’d expect these tournaments to be complete catastrophes.

But here’s the funny thing: at every event single event I ever went to, within minutes we were all friends. The threats never came up. The guy who had angrily threatened to rape my mother a week before would invite me to lunch and we’d laugh about some movie we had both just seen. It was bizarre. You spend 360 days per year hating on each other and then the five you actually see each other, it’s like you’re best friends.

And you may thinking, “Well, duh, these are groups of men.” Well, in that case, I invite you to spend an afternoon on some popular feminist (and apparently motherhood) websites and prepare to watch the accusations of fascist rape-apologist and traumatizing child-abuser fly.

For whatever reason, the internet tends to bring out everyone’s inner asshole.

I think everybody has had the experience of that almost blinding rage you get at reading something someone else wrote on your computer screen as you hit “Reply” and start typing furiously in response. It sucks. But there’s also something addictive about it. You can’t turn away. You can’t stop. And inevitably, that furious response you write — you click “Send” and beam with pride as you read it over again, you got them — that same response you’re so proud of is read by the other person and just creates another bout of blinding rage in them as and they begin to furiously type back at you.

How The Internet Warps Perception

Why does this happen? Why do slight and insignificant differences in opinion become uncrossable ideological chasms online? What is it about this mode of communication that causes everyone else to sound so much like Hitler?

  1. We idealize the other person’s viewpoints or attitudes – Since I began blogging in 2007, I’ve been told that I’m a racist, sexist, fascist, communist, woman-hater, man-hater, liar with no conscience, a scam artist, a sexless virgin, a misogynistic player, and too young to know anything about anything. Strangely, I’ve never been accused of being any of these things in my personal life.

    The problem with the internet is that while information is easily conveyed, intention is not. If we’re reading something written by an anonymous person, whether we agree with them or not, we automatically make assumptions about their intentions. If we like what they say, we make the assumption that they already align with many of our values and our worldview. If we don’t like what they say, then we make assumptions about their values and worldview and lump them in with stereotypes of groups with which we disagree.

    It’s intellectually lazy, but a natural cognitive function. When we lack sufficient information about a person’s views, we stereotype them. And the very medium of the internet makes it so that we almost constantly lack sufficient information about people’s views.

    Why?

  2. Confrontation has no negative social consequences – If I disagree with somebody in real life, there are potential consequences to escalating that disagreement into a confrontation or into personal insults. For one, I could get my ass kicked. I could get thrown out of a venue. I could be embarrassed in front of all of my peers or start a grudge match and risk future repercussions.

    People say idiotic and offensive things on the internet simply for the reason that they can and it doesn’t matter. They’re effectively anonymous. And even when they’re not, it’s rare that anyone cares enough to follow up and enact social consequences for their crass statements.

    Except for those rare and beautiful instances when there are social consequences, those same assholes straighten up as if they joined a monastery. Take for example this punk from England who harassed a professional boxer for months before magically straightening up and apologizing when the boxer found out where he lived and actually drove to his house to confront him. Or the boy who called a elderly female professor an “old dirty slut” and then immediately issued an apology when internet users forwarded his comments to his mother.

  3. Everything is public – This one is counter-intuitive. You would think that communicating in a public medium would cause people to be more careful about what they say, but it causes the opposite.

    Imagine you’re at a party and you have a disagreement with someone you’re talking to. Chances are it may be a bit annoying but not a huge deal. You two laugh about it and change the subject. Now imagine you have that same disagreement except 60 people are standing around listening to every word each of you says. Chances are you will feel far more defensive of your views and will be far more likely to attack them for theirs.

    Humans are wired to be sensitive to not only of how we’re being perceived by others, but our reputations within certain social groups. When we have a disagreement in private, this does not threaten our social standing with anyone except for the person which we disagree with. But when we’re online, there’s an inherent publicity about it. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people can hop on and see someone trashing your ideas at any given moment. As a result, we’re far more likely to defend our turf and more likely to be aggressive about it.

    Ever notice that private chats online are almost always civil and calm? Yet, big forum threads or comment sections turn into a complete shit show? Yup.

  4. GIFTheory

  5. The effects of self-selection – Comments, forums, chatrooms all usually require that you register or take the time to type out your thoughts. As a result, the only people tend to bother doing such a thing are people who feel particularly positive or negative about something. All of the people who feel neutral or slightly one way or another get lost because sharing their opinion is not worth the investment of time and effort for them.

    In this way, internet discourse self-selects for the most extreme viewpoints. And unfortunately, being only presented to the extreme viewpoints in any situation causes our views to diverge even further. The debate becomes defined by the extreme minorities at both polls while the silent majority in the middle either checks out out entirely or gets sucked into one extreme viewpoint or the other.

    Sound kind of like politics in the 21st century?

What does this mean for culture?

Freud made the argument that for society to exist, man’s worst impulses — violence, selfishness, inappropriate sexuality — must be kept in check. The internet is possibly the first mechanism in human history that allows society to not only exist, but thrive, by removing the need for self-censorship. With no consequences and less efficient communication, people are rewarded for shock value of what they say as much as the content and meaning.

Although this opens up more possibilities for thought and communication and has led to rapid social changes all over the world, it brings new challenges with it as well.

Already, internet culture seems to be adapting. New social functions are being labelled and understood. Trolls pick fights unnecessarily. Memes are ways for people to share laughter about topics which are sometimes taken too seriously. Social media allows us to negotiate the meaning of a swarm of ideas in a short amount of time.

But at the same time, we’re all exposed to more dialog and more people’s thoughts than at any other point in history. While it’s good that human communication has achieved infinite capacity, as individuals we must also adapt to these new realities. We must begin accepting responsibility for how we react to what we read. We have to accept that we will always be offended by somebody, in some way, and sometimes live with it.

That’s the hidden cost of the combination of free speech and limitless capacity for communication: more assholes.

And while the internet grants us all the right to communicate whatever we want, as much as we want, we must armor ourselves to the id of humanity. We must teach ourselves to be a little more resilient, a little more patient, a little less judgmental. And understand that that nitwit asshole on the other side of the screen is sometimes the same person you’d be happy to have a beer with in person.

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60 Comments

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  • Reply

    Original Jammer

    1 month ago

    The video is funny cause he’s fat. ;-)

    I agree with a lot, especially self-selection. I’ve always been the guy who winds up observing the shitstorm or getting lost in “neutral zone”. I guess I just don’t care enough about anything to start a massive internet argument. It’s always funny to see people losing their shit over what happens through such a medium.

  • Reply

    David

    1 month ago

    You seem to excuse poor behaviour here as guys behaving badly. If a guy threatens my sister, for example, and uses really vile and ugly language, ain’t no way I’m gonna have a beer with him.

    Fact is – the person who you are on the internet is who you are in reality. It’s just that you choose to hide some things when you’re with others in person.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      1 month ago

      See, I disagree with this… most people I’ve met who say really vile things online are not like that at all in person… the medium is just so dehumanizing and skewed that people say stupid things. I’ve said plenty of stupid things online that I would never considering saying in person. But ultimately, the medium twists around our perceptions of each other that it becomes much easier to say them.

      There have been times even on my forum where people who I know are generally good people end up saying really obnoxious things to each other because they get caught up in idealizing the other’s arguments… sure, there are some really craven people, but I think going by how people act on the internet is a really, really poor metric for judging personality.

      • Reply

        JSS

        9 weeks ago

        I think people say on the internet how they really feel that they wouldn’t say in person. That’s the scary thing. I think it highlights human arrogance and stupidity (wait, that was kinda mean, but I actually feel this way LOL).

    • Reply

      Nicholas

      1 month ago

      I agree with you, David. In a different way, I think I know what Mark is saying but I think you are closer. It’s just that I think any “choosing” was done, probably subconsciously years before.

      I am thinking about Jung’s concept of the shadow – all of those parts of our personalities that we find unacceptable and are hidden away from our consciousness. But they are still there. So, in person, our carefully built persona’s (our ego) are what we show the world. But in the anonymous internet world some people’s impulses are allowed to channel through those dark passages and come out unedited…

      So, Mark has a point that, all of us may have aspects of ourselves that we are not proud of, but it is a “real” us that we show the world. In effect, we are both shadow and light. But I would argue the healthy person is more integrated and seld aware and does not need to rant vile or threatening things anonymously.

      • Reply

        Simeon Morris

        1 month ago

        I think the idea of ‘who we really are’ is slightly erroneous. It suggests that there is an unchanging core to ourselves that is the truth, and that this part of us is more or less revealed depending on circumstance, or environment. I believe this thinking is somewhat skewed, as it ignores the idea of relationship. I believe that although there are certain aspects of someone that remain solid throughout life, who we are is largely down to our relationship to our surroundings, or our environment, at any given time. People are in a constant state of flux, or motion. War will bring out certain aspects of someone, a romantic relationship others, a job still more, and the internet something else. All these responses spring from who we are, but not one of those responses can be hailed as the absolute ‘truth’ about who someone is. They are all parts of the whole.

        I have noticed in myself, and others, that my opinion about something can change radically, depending on who I am talking to, or where I am in my life, and that change can appear in a relatively short time of a few weeks or months. Am I a hypocrite, or deeply shallow person who has no solid sense of who I am? Perhaps. Or perhaps, my opinions change depending on the relationship I am having with my environment, and the people in it.

        I have been guilty of bad behaviour on the internet, and I’ve started to try to pause before I write something. Quite apart from the social pressure or repercussions of ones behaviour, I took a look at myself and didn’t like the person I was presenting to the world. I was embarrassed in front of myself.

        Great piece Mark. By the way, although I knew about you already, I was linked to another article on your page by a feminist blogger called ‘Brute Reason’. She’s an awesome writer in my opinion, and the fact that she linked to your page says SO much about where the worlds of feminist thought and relationship /life advice is heading, with you right at the front. Imagine a feminist blogger linking to David D’Angelo. Hahahaha!

        • Reply

          Nicholas

          1 month ago

          Simeon, I agree. This page moves pretty fast and I abreviated a lot. This quote from Heraclitus comes to mind:

          “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

          • Jakes

            2 weeks ago

            you didnt have to explain the saying- we all know it.

    • Reply

      Segun

      21 weeks ago

      Bible > Luke 6:45
      A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

      David, I agree with you.

    • Reply

      Ryan

      21 weeks ago

      I completely agree. One should never excuse the behavior of a person just because they’re on the internet, and people need to take responsibility for what they say. Contrary to the author’s experiences, i’ve found that most people who bully, argue incessantly and harass people online are the same people who do it in real life. I don’t agree that the internet causes people to drastically alter their behavior/opinions. Assholes will be assholes. It’s just in their best interest to hide it better in person.

  • Reply

    matt

    1 month ago

    mark, where do you find your header photos?

    • Reply

      Vincent

      1 month ago

      Did a quick image reverse search for you with TinEye and it looks like this article’s header photo came from iStockPhoto.

  • Reply

    Nick

    1 month ago

    Lol, this was a very funny article, because it’s true. The other funny internet battle tactic that is pretty funny is when someone breaks down someone’s argument into absolute minutia and creates insults over minor spelling errors, semantic variations, and other various and sundry details that any reasonable person would either ignore or leave up for interpretation in lieu of focusing on the bigger issue. And taking paragraph upon paragraph to do it. I remember some of those epic arguments you had with that Russian guy. Pretty hilarious.

  • Reply

    Cameron

    1 month ago

    Well I can definitely be an internet asshole, some of the comments I’ve made to you in particular have been disgraceful, I’m embarrassed by them, if I could go back and delete them I would. (probably, but I apologize anyway)

    Two slightly off topic points:

    1) OK this ones not off-topic. What do you think of the idea that occasionally everyone is entitled to be a politically incorrect, rude asshole sometimes. Maybe I shouldn’t use the word entitled but if you accept:

    a) People get annoyed sometimes
    b) It can be a fun and (relatively) harmless way to relief stress being douchey and obnoxious to people over the internet. Again obviously if your dad just died and I use the internet to mock you about it (more on this later) thats unacceptable but say I want to tease you about say………you preferring Inglorious Basterds to Pulp Fiction, is there a real duty for me to not say this for fear of offending you/ pissing you off, isn’t there a danger of a person becoming overly serious and po-faced if they never allow themselves to poke fun at others?

    2) This is off-topic. Recently in Britain this feminist lady received many horrible threats for being part of a campaign to have a woman on bank notes (succeeded, Jane Austen). Again I’m all for reasonable freedom of speech and honesty etc but I think everyone sensible would agree, blatant threats, defamation, hateful abuse don’t count. What steps would you take to punish those who abuse the anonymity of the internet.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      1 month ago

      1) I think it’s fine. I think on this medium it’s almost inevitable that many of us will lose track of ourselves and insert our feet in our mouths.

      2) I saw that issue in the news. Excessive hate speech or threats are illegal in many countries. I’m not sure if she pursued criminal charges against him. I know a lot of women protested to have Twitter implement a feature to block or flag other users. Unfortunately, some of this stuff is going to be inevitable. I think most of it can be managed at a technological level (for instance, blocking people on Facebook or on forums, etc.) I think legal implementation should be a last resort type of thing.

  • Reply

    Jamie

    1 month ago

    Nice article, although I feel like it’s less profound and less original than a lot of your other writing. Ultimately the whether a person’s “true self” is who they are on the internet vs. who they are in person is a moot debate. People don’t act consistently when put in front of different groups. That said, I would argue that the more value-driven and centered people are, the more consistent their actions will be and the less their environment will sway their decisions.

    • Reply

      Brendon

      1 month ago

      Something to that. Ive noticed the more comfortable I’ve become with certain opinions of mine the more consistent I’ve been with sharing them in the same way across different social circles and yes, even the Internet. But by and large, the Internet ain’t a good marker of character

    • Reply

      Stu

      1 month ago

      I agree. Interesting article but I have found some of your other articles have made me more introspective. Tough to hit every pitch out of the park.

  • Reply

    João

    1 month ago

    I do not agree, at least not 100%. I think that there are other theories that explain why the Internet is the douches gatheringpoint.

    My bro Zimbardo likes to do achademic research about violence and all the stuff and came up with “Lucifer’s Effect”, a cool looking term in social psychology that explains why good people turn bad. That includes the average bro who steps on the internet.

    Now i believe with most of what you said, but i think the “Lucifer’s effect theory” explains it better, or at least, adds to what you said.

    One of the Key pieces about internet doucebaggery is Anonimosity. Research says that feeling anonimous at some point leads to “Self-desuminization” (feeling a bit non-human) and creates a feeling of “no responsability and no consequences” too. African tribes who use warpaints are far more violent, tend to kill and torture more compared with the counterparts. People who have their face convered on riots are generally those who engage on the most violent behaviors.

    If being anonymous leads to “Self-desumanization” and therefore violence, the “desumanization of the others” also leads to more violence just because, you know, it’s easier to be bad to someone you don’t know than to your bro. And i have no clue to who i’m dealing with in a forum, as far as i know it’s just another name in a million others.
    So i feel like anonomosity should have took more coverage on the subject. It explains like 50% of the whole Internet badguy syndrome.

    That “No consequences perceived” explains like 30% of it too. Points 1, 3 and 4 are the remain 20%.

    Do check “Lucifers Effect” and zimbardo. He lifts.

    • Reply

      Shadow_Nirvana

      1 month ago

      But the question remains: Do you even lift?

      • Reply

        João

        1 month ago

        4000kg with a finger, bro. 80 reps. Fight me irl!

        • Reply

          Zac

          1 month ago

          You must go through a few keyboards a year.

      • Reply

        x

        1 month ago

        lol

  • Reply

    Dan

    1 month ago

    Excellent point on #4. I need to keep that in consideration more often whenever I read the comments section on just about any news or political article. I’m not a very opinionated guy, but it still just astounds me how people can be so closed minded on certain things. I guess I have to keep in mind that most people reading whatever I’m reading are just like me- probably fairly neutral or only slightly on one side or another.

    Or maybe I just need to stop reading the comment section on news and political articles.

  • Reply

    Jordan

    1 month ago

    Great entry and very accurate. This is why I avoid serious debates online- you accomplish nothing and tend to just get angry. Though I will admit, I do very much enjoy at times insulting stupid people I come across online. Perhaps it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure. I haven’t done it as much this year and I’m probably much better off for it.

    Perhaps the moral of the story is to not spend as much time on the internet and to interact with real people (as I make mention of in my “Stop Being a Slave to Social Media” entry on my own blog.

  • Reply

    Traindom

    1 month ago

    I can understand that people get heated in online arguments but it is disturbing to think about what state of mind the guy who threatened to rape your mom was in. I just can’t see myself ever saying something like that in an online argument.

    • Reply

      Cameron

      1 month ago

      Its sad but true that online video games (especially FPS’s) tend to attract A LOT of angry people and some of the comments made on these sites would shock you. Homophobia and rampant sexism abound, its a shame.

  • Reply

    Jed

    1 month ago

    I’ve noticed you reference Freud frequently, and the psychology/philosophy that you profess often appears influenced by Freudian pyschoanalysis. I’m curious about this because pyschoanalysis today does not have strong scientific support and is under criticism for not having sufficient scientific backing, holes in theses’, and is considered by more mainstream pyschologists as a psuedo-science. I for one like pychoanalysis, and your approaches and ideas obviously do benefit people (including myself), sometimes immensely no doubt. However, my question is how much “faith” do you have in the pychoanalytic approaches to self-help, and more generally in psychology? I felt compelled to ask as I am continuing to notice you’ve cited Freud in multiple articles.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      1 month ago

      I love Freud. I do realize that he’s totally discredited in a lot of ways and he gets bashed a lot.

      But here’s the thing: Freud got the “what” right and the “why” wrong. Everything about the unconscious, the animalistic drives, defense mechanisms, cognitive dissonance, all of that, he nailed it. It’s all still useful and accepted. It was his explanations for all of these things that were kooky and weird and took a long time to get away from.

      So yeah, I love Freud as a philosopher I guess you could say. But psychoanalysis itself is pretty out there and unverifiable. It can be a useful tool in moments, but surely not definitive.

    • Reply

      Simeon Morris

      1 month ago

      Hi Jed,
      You mention Psychology and Psychoanalysis in the same sentence, but be aware that they are different things. It’s a bit difficult to say there is insufficient scientific backing for psychoanalysis. That can be said about all study of human behaviour/psychology, etc. It’s very hard to be scientific about it, because it is often anecdotal and stories can’t be measured and quatified. Modern day psychiatry tries to be scientific, but does so by largely ignoring peoples stories. So a person is depressed because of some measurable biological complaint (lack of serotonin, chemical imbalance, etc) and not because his parents abused him (I’m exaggerating, but you get the point). In some quarters Freud and Jung are ‘discredited’ but in others not. In Europe, Freud is given more credit that in the United States I believe. But also America tends to medicate mental disorder to an alarming degree.

      I agree with Mark that Freud nailed it in the ‘what’, but missed on the ‘why’.
      Jung is also fascinating.

      I personally have been psychoanalysed and it was a hugely rewarding experience. It is my believe that a lot of modern therapy methods: CBT for example, have been developed as quick fixes, because real lasting therapy takes a LONG time, and is very expensive. This is a shame, as mental health for the rich only is obviously unacceptable.

      • Reply

        Mark Manson

        1 month ago

        “It’s a bit difficult to say there is insufficient scientific backing for psychoanalysis. That can be said about all study of human behaviour/psychology, etc. ”

        More and more people are saying this and it’s driving me crazy. There are very reliable statistical and scientific methods for measuring behavior and getting good data. Psychoanalysis, in and of itself, is untestable and unverifiable.

        Sure, psychological tests aren’t as reliable and stable as say, physics… but that doesn’t mean we can’t glean a lot of reliable information from it.

        • Reply

          Jed

          1 month ago

          No, of course we can still glean information from them. I can’t stand the “logical positivist” types who think any science is only important or beneficial if its discoveries are objective. The thing is we can’t measure emotion by the level of oxytocin or serotonin.

          If I were in a position where I would need some sort of therapy, I would much rather prefer to figure out WHY I have an emotional imbalance (assuming my problems stem from my life experience, and it’s not a genetic disorder or something; that’s a different story) and learn how to deal with it or confront it, than solve it with pills.

          So in many ways, like I said previously, I like pyschoanalysis but I was concerned with the fact that maybe its not as effective I’d like to believe. But upon re-looking at Freud’s what and why, I know exactly what you mean (and even he retracted a lot of the why before he died).

          • Mark Manson

            1 month ago

            Ah yes, OK. Sorry, I get a lot of ppl making annoying comments like “Psychology can’t prove anything so your advice is bunk.” Ironically, I did exactly what I said in my article and assumed you were making stereotyped claims.

            And yeah… it’s all about utility in the end anyway, right? I mean, psychoanalysis may be a total placebo, but if it’s an effective placebo, then why stop it? I mean, I got a lot out of it… Some times it doesn’t matter why something works, just that it does.

            And yeah, I’m actually kind of surprised at how bad of a rap Freud gets… especially from psychologists who owe much of their profession to him. He definitely was a product of backwards Victorian morals, and projected a lot of his own neuroses into his theories… but goddamn the guy nailed a lot of human nature.

  • Reply

    Flower

    1 month ago

    You don’t need to go to feminist forums to see female aggression. You can just visit a mommy forum. Women don’t usually say they will rape your mom but they use other ways to offend you. Some forums whose participants are mostly female are an unbearable place, trust me.
    I am a woman and I was a member of a pick up forum for quite a lot of time. I had arguments with many of the members (their misogynist views certainly didn’t make me happy). Well, not all of them were misogynists but somehow I still ended up arguing with them for other reasons. Anyway, with one of the guys we ended up meeting each other (I’m not going to give details but it was for other reasons than pick up, you could say it was by chance) and nothing only we didn’t argue like we used to on the Internet, we ended up falling in love and he was one of the most amazing men I have ever been with, we still keep in touch and respect each other deeply, the only reason the relationship didn’t last was because of me leaving the country he was at. So not only the guy who annoys you on the Internet can be a nice person to have a beer with, he can also be an amazing lover for you. I have to say he was never obnoxious in this forum though but still not really agreeable, nor was I, and I also saw some of his older posts on the Internet (other than this forum) that were very aggressive and had I come across them, I would never think he is the nice person I know.

    • Reply

      Cameron

      1 month ago

      Honestly thats such a sweet story! There did a study once were (allegedley) if you start off hating someone it can lead to a more intense relationship, guess that whole romantic comedy thing was right. Its a bit of simplification but they say with regards to pickup any emotion you can bring out in a partner can work out to your advantage.

      • Reply

        Flowers

        1 month ago

        Oh, we never hated each other, we just happened to argue but not so much especially compared to other members I had arguments with on a regular basis. I was actually trying to help him with my advice on his problems with women and he got defensive and I also got defensive and you know what happens next with such conversations on the Internet. I remember him saying when we first exchanged emails on a topic very different from the forum that he was surprised that I’m not this annoying girl he knows and I even look normal to him, lol.
        Btw, I was shocked and amused at the same time about how many guys tried to hit on me there, I didn’t expect it since well, I know their ‘game’ but somehow this didn’t stop them. And I know for a fact every female member of this PUA forum experienced the same. However, this guy I was talking about had no such intentions prior to meeting me in person.

        • Reply

          Cameron

          1 month ago

          “not this annoying girl he knows and I even look normal to him, lol.”

          How can you be so sure? :-p

          • Flower

            1 month ago

            Lol, I can never be sure, of course, but that’s what he wrote to me, so I assume it’s true.

    • Reply

      Jammer

      1 month ago

      Hey Miami!

  • Reply

    Brian

    1 month ago

    Okay, read the article, enjoyed it, and it made a lot of sense.

    One thing I have to comment on:

    I feel a lot of people in the comment section of this site need to stop trying to “rate” Mark’s content.

    The dude has provided dozens of brilliant articles covering multiple topics, and yet people still want to front like they’re some sort of professional web critic.

    “HEY MARK, ARTICLE WAS GOOD, BUT IT’S DEFINITELY NOT UR BEST LOL 5/10 THIS TIME”

    Can you give the guy a break, please? Who exactly determines the criteria for originality and excellence? How exactly do you expect Mark to create content that matches your subjective expectations of originality and excellence EVERY SINGLE TIME?

    I don’t know if you people realize this or not – but Mark is NOT writing to/for you personally. He doesn’t owe you anything. If the man wants to write an article about wine tasting, his favorite color, etc… it’s up to him. If he wants to write in ALL CAPS – he can do that too.

    Personally, I find myself enjoying most of his articles. Even if I disagree with him here or there, I still appreciate a fresh perspective. If I find an article that doesn’t interest me, I SKIP IT and find something that relates to me more.

    That said, if you find fallacious logic or errors in fact/grammar, etc… that’s a different story. Comment away. But stop trying to RATE his content based on your subjective tastes.

    (Sorry if it sounds like I’m speaking for you, Mark. This just pisses me off).

    P.S. If you find it ironic that I’m ranting away on an article about “toning down judgement & disrespect on the internet” – realize I’m just as opinionated in person as well.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      1 month ago

      Hah, well, thank you for the impassioned defense. Although I will say, the feedback is always useful for me and I understand that not everything is going to be life changing or a home run for people. Some articles (like this one) are written as much for entertainment (both mine and yours) as they are for information and so I don’t take offense when some people comment that they didn’t get the same “oomph” they get out of others. They were both respectful about it, so that’s fine.

      People have to understand though that there’s a trade-off. If every article is going to knock people’s socks off, then there will inevitably have to be fewer of them. And that actually seems like the direction things are going for a variety of reasons. 4-6 articles per month with a much higher focus on quality than entertainment value.

    • Reply

      João

      1 month ago

      I understand your point, but i want to say that nobody here is bashing on Manson, if there’s any bashing (read: disagreeing) then it’s directed at his opinions. Ofcourse that you can always connect a chunk of one’s identity with his views but the point remains the same. Also, the intentions of criticism are never being a judging douche for the sake of being a judging douche. At least not mine, because i disagreed here and i feel this is pointed at me.

      Not to mention, if someone (anyone) has an opinion it’s their right to give it. If someone on the otherside particulary gives a shit or not, it’s their right as well, and everybody get’s happy.

    • Reply

      Shadow_Nirvana

      1 month ago

      So basically, you don’t offer any other viewpoints and anybody who does should stop because… well you didn’t give a very coherent reason other than “LEAVE MARK ALOOOONE, LEAVE HIM ALONE ;-(”

      I assume the guy put the comments part for reasons other than just receiving congratulatory messages. He has the moderation of it as well, he can ban anyone and delete an comment that he doesn’t like. So, in the end, what’s it to you if other people comment to him in ways that you don’t, Mr. The White Knight Rises?

  • Reply

    B.

    1 month ago

    Timely! Im trying talk a friend out of online dating. She’s very social, one of the more popular people I know, and had a sit down with her parents about getting married. She’s considering online dating. I’ve never done online dating, and it feel it can work for people with certain personality traits (shy, insecure, crazy, unattractive, hidden sex maniac fetishes, other problems) moreso than people with healthy outlooks. That’s not so much a hasty generalization, but more, I think, an indication of that person’s mindset at the time.

    To me, online dating is the worst way to meet someone. I get the sense that in internet forums people can unleash their passive-aggressive issues more than they would in person. I think that’s partly why people who bitch behind the computer don’t have the guts to bring it when they’re face to face with someone. And my issue with online dating is similarly that people should be themselves online and offline, and I doubt that’s what generally happens with online dating. Why can a douchebag get dates with 20 women online, but none if he tried in person, and none of the relationships last? Maybe the douchebag hasn’t met the right woman yet, and maybe she’s someout there in the land of statisic impossibility.

    So I asked my friend if she met someone online whether she would be okay with saying, “hey, this is my bf, we met online.” and the immediate answer, without hesitation was “NO, that’s why you have to lie about it.” My response: “you should never have to lie.”

    I recognize that people do meet their dream people online, but come on. Why the hell can’t we do shit the old fashion way?? People who aren’t comfortable with themselves need to fix that, not mask the issue by going online. Yes, I’ve seen the commercials, but I’m the kind of person that likes to see a person in motion, get to know then enough to decide whether dating is an option. I also want them to see me in motion and that way I don’t have to deal with any thoughts of “will he like me when we meet…will he really be 6’2″?” I think part of the fun about a relationship is learning about a person as you spend time with them, not any of this online dating crap!

    And I’d say this in person and still have these views offline. So can anyone persuade me otherwise?

  • Reply

    christian

    1 month ago

    Your’e articles enlighten a lot of unanswered questions i have regarding certain life questions i have every day. You always seem to have elaborate answers to these questions.Thank you very mutch..i always look forward to reading new stuff everyday…you have changed my life. :)

  • Reply

    Nicholas

    1 month ago

    It’s hard for me to believe that the internet-asshole who turns out to be a nice person in-person doesn’t have something buried deep somewhere. There has to be some kind of logic wired into the neurons that makes it make sense. Like people who get violent when they’re drunk, etc.

    Just a thought: Athletes blood samples have been stored for years and new doping-detection stuff is developed all the time. So even though they didn’t catch the guy when he won a gold medal in 2004 or whatever, they might detect the doping done in 2004 next year. So, what if some future technology links your facebook or linkedin to every time you “screamed” homophobic, sexist, ugly hateful things at someone on the internet?

  • Reply

    Rob

    1 month ago

    Expanding on what you said about presenting oneself to a large audience (feeling defensive and whatnot), I think this also ties into trying extra hard to boost self confidence by attempting to “win over” the crowd and “beat” the opposition. Most of us would never go near debating another person in front of an audience and most of us would also probably be devastated if we lost or presented a poor argument.

    Yet we do it all the time on the internet. And I think the why is often as simple as “when we lose, we can pretend it never happened and detach the event from our actual sense of identity” and “when we win, we can feel accomplished and incredibly validated at the thought of the vast audience that has just seen us best another person.”

    I have found that, generally speaking, the less anonymity we are afforded online in a given place, the less likely we are to break social niceties. Imagine an internet where people can’t say anything without their words being accompanied by their full name and a picture of how they currently look in that moment. I think it would be a less active internet, that’s for sure. Perhaps it’s time children were educated in how to handle being public figures. Cause in the internet world, we’re all public figures in a way. And few of us have any idea how to handle the attention, much less the responsibility that comes along with it.

  • Reply

    Skylar

    1 month ago

    I have been wondering about the same for a time. And I agree that the reasons that you mention in the post tend to create an environment on the internet that is rather condusive to trolling, abuse and general bad behavior. Very well put.

    But even this conducive environment, I still wonder what makes some people react in such extreme ways?

    Recently, I came across a story about a woman called Caroline Criado-Perez. She petitioned to have more women on british bank notes. I mean, not something earthshattering or radical. But as a result of this, she ended up receiving a deluge of abuse on Twitter, many tweets being very graphic about raping and killing her. Here we are not only talking heated arguments, but abuse and threats. And unfortunately, it doesn’t seem events like that are so uncommon. I can understand saying something stupid in a heated argument, but where does this level of hate come from?

    I am pretty certain, most of the trolls and abusers never mean to do what they say, but it does has an affect on the debate environment on the internet.

    Maybe social media is just a giant amplifier for everything within us humans, whether being good or bad?

  • Reply

    Boo

    1 month ago

    I think what you’ve written here is okay – it’s certainly an interesting question. What I’d say is that it seems to me as if you’re making a lot of assertions, without much – if any – evidence to support it. Most of what you’re suggesting seems to be predicated on your personal experience, or where the case-studies you’ve provided are cherry picked. Maybe my cursory glance at your conclusion on the implications for culture is mistaken, but it seems as if it contradicts your argument. I suppose much of your argument is that there aren’t “real world” consequences of online disagreements – so, in that case, why the prescription on how we should adapt to a non-issue?

    Perhaps my comments are too critical – this is a blog after all. I’ve never been completely sure if it is meant to be a polemic, or seriously discussed?

  • Reply

    Jazzlene Monterra

    1 month ago

    I guess Mark would know since this is on INTERNET! One of the worse lie every told was that Liz is in a pairing that’s a supercouple. The woman can’t spell super!Worse actress ever and she needs to step out on her own and stop whining about everything. I think commercials is great for her.

  • Reply

    Tim Davenport

    1 month ago

    I enjoyed the piece, linked here from a message board. Much wisdom. Have a good life.

  • Reply

    daniel

    1 month ago

    I think the big think is no negative social consequences. People are usually worried most about how theyll appear and come off, so with that in check they can say whatever.

  • Reply

    Flo

    28 weeks ago

    MARK MANSON IS A BIG FAGGOT DON’T LISTEN TO HIM HE’S SUCH A FLAMING HOMO

  • Reply

    j Annie d

    26 weeks ago

    and in life too. Work, relationships, church, grocery stores and at the gas station. unreal!

  • Reply

    Brett

    20 weeks ago

    RON PAUL 2012!

  • Reply

    Jennifer

    15 weeks ago

    only because people WANT to be assholes. If you go against Evil or anything that doesn’t hold principals and gets through to damaging millions of people it starts having effects on THAT person. eff it!

  • Reply

    Isaiah

    10 weeks ago

    I’ve experienced a few jerks every once in a while. It’s honestly became so frequent, that I’m actually practicing walking away. If you truly know who you are you really won’t have to defend yourself, beliefs, or lifestyle. So before you see an absolute ass insulting you or your kind online, don’t touch that keyboard, because the time it took you to argue with that person, will firstly, most likely get you nowhere, and you can do much more productive things with your life.

  • Reply

    HumansAreUgly

    3 weeks ago

    It’s a sad fact that most people on the internet are narcissistic morons who would say and do all the dumb things that they couldn’t do in real life.

    But you know people. If the internet all shuts off at once maybe I could have some hell to pay for these low life idiotic geeks. People would say and do shit that they couldn’t do in real life which makes me believe that they are weak.

  • Reply

    Jakes

    2 weeks ago

    I’d argue an alternative stance- that people live lives fraught with fraudulent acting and it is only when you are free to be ourselves online that our true natures come forth.

    I submit humans are still the angry hysterical monkies they evolved from- but it is the veneer of civilization that normally hides this nature from us.

  • Reply

    Matt

    2 weeks ago

    The problem is this: “I do, but you see” What I do, isn’t always what you see, what I mean isn’t necessarily what you interpret me to mean, and it’s a kind of chinese whispers. You see it when you get into arguments on texts as well, just because of the natural ambiguity of words without expression and tone. Its worst of all on facebook because the confusion about meaning can be even deeper for people watching an evolving argument, and as things escalate it’s difficult to consider how it evolved like who said what first and what they meant, and how that guy interpreted that in order to now be saying the thing that you find oh so offensive…

    Forums and stuff as you say have no consequence, but texting and social networks just want avoiding what you mean won’t be how the other person sees it, and it will never fit with how you’d like a group of people to see it.

    The main problem (at least for me) is the contagious nature of facebook, for example I get on with everyone and do well everywhere I go, but I went to school with people who were 100% to a last man a bunch of tools (just not strong enough terminology) Now if you were to speak to them I’m sure they’d blame me, I’m a grown man now and thinking of them or interacting with them still bugs me, you could probably feel the bitterness from there, but that is just no in my nature and doesn’t play a part in any other area of my very happy and successful life. So imagine the problems it can cause mixing all that in with all the people you get on with and really letting them see your inner prickface, it’s not ideal, so I decided to once and for all leave the social networking world and stick to real life, which is a lot less complicated. Even if you aren’t faced with a bunch of tosspots from your alma mater ready to cut you down and stab you in the back first chance they get, eventually there will be contagion in your online world, worlds should never collide, or I think Offspring put it best: “You’ve gotta keep em separated”

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