In which Jill muses on the phenomenon of on-line disinhibition. (Read it, beeyotch!)
A few months ago I got an e-mail comment on my blog from a guy named Sergio (not his real nameâ€”or was it?). Sergio was impressed with something Iâ€™d written about people who hoard data. Or was he? He wanted to demo a product for me next time I was up north to show me the true power of search. He wanted to teach me some stuff that he thought I should know. His e-mail was condescending, but in a solicitous way. He was friendly yet finger-wagging. Was he trying to educate me, insult me, or stir me? Sergioâ€™s invective was so confusing and cryptic that I couldnâ€™t figure out whether he was flaming me or inviting me out to dinner.
A few years ago a guy who called himself Jaguar (not his real nameâ€”or was it?) gave my CRM book a one-star review on Amazon.com. Jaguarâ€™s grammar was a bit off, as were his facts, but thatâ€™s beside the point. Jaguar came across as preternaturally angry in his on-line review. Was it something I said? I would have sent him a peace offering, but that kind of thing is hard to do when the source is anonymous, and clearly detests you.
Experts have called unsociable behavior in cyberspace the â€śonline disinhibition effect.â€ť It suggests that people who wouldnâ€™t address you impolitely to your face are more than happy to abuse you under the cloak of on-line anonymity. You simply canâ€™t gauge someoneâ€™s mood in an on-line forum, save for the trite mechanisms reserved for the web world. You know what I mean, donâ€™t you, BFF? ;>) TTFN!
Posted March 24, 2008 5:16 PM
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