New Scientist analyzes why people turn into jerks online:|
My pet theory about why people behave so rudely is that online commenting is treated, by most people, like a pub conversation ? they don't necessarily expect to be taken seriously and the social rules are fairly relaxed. And yet, because comments appear in cold text without important cues like friendly body language, they can easily seem more offensive than if they would otherwise. As a result some people get annoyed, and the flaming and trolling begin.
After being described a few weeks ago as "a self-lobotomised liberal who can't face the facts", I decided to look into the psychology of online behaviour a bit further. Much of the research on online communication has looked at email, but it seems that many of the results can be generalised to apply to chat rooms and forums too.