Is the Internet Making You Meaner?


(calm music) – Do you ever catch yourself
saying something online that you probably
wouldn’t say in real life? I’m looking at you internet trolls. Got something bad to say to me? Come at me bro, come on. I’m just kidding. We don’t get trolls on our videos. Y’all are all great. But you know what I’m
talking about, right? Like for example, my
name is Myles with a Y, Bess, B-E-S-S and I got
into a little altercation with a guy ’cause his name
was miles with an I, B-E-S-T. So I was talking trash. I just kept tweeting him
like there can only be one. I’m better than you, get off Twitter. Now I was the aggressor
in the whole situation. I probably wouldn’t a done it if I had to see him face to face but I was online and I felt
protected by the internet. (upbeat music) I think we’ve all seen
how online conversations can quickly take a turn for the worse. Just look at any time a woman posts anything on social media. There’s always somebody
commenting about how she looks or how she’s doing something wrong. Just ask my friend Julia from Two Cents, a personal finance show on YouTube. – You’re so right Myles. I have the very unique
experience of becoming pregnant, visibly so and having the baby
while I had a YouTube channel and while I was talking
about like important things about money and trying to
teach, so many of the comments were focused on my ever changing body. – It kinda feels like it’s super easy to be mean to each other online. So today we’re asking, is
the internet making us mean? So it’s a real thing. The internet really can make
people act differently online than they do face to face. Researchers call this the
online disinhibition effect. You know that little inner
voice in the back of your head that tells you something
might be a bad idea? Well the internet can
kinda shut that voice up. You might end up saying
or doing something mean that you’ll regret later
or sharing something that’s a little TMI. But online this disinhibition effect isn’t always a bad thing. Plot twist, sometimes good things can come from the disinhibition effect. Like when someone might open
up about something private online and get some much needed support. Let me break it down for you. Back in 2004, psychologist John Suler published a paper
outlining this phenomenon. This paper’s kind of a big deal. It’s been sited over 3,000 times. That means it’s shown up in
a bunch of other research. In the paper there’s two
types of disinhibition, toxic disinhibition where you
have a tendency to act meaner that you would in real life, making the internet a hostile place. But there’s also benign disinhibition, where people can open up and share more than they normally would, which can create a positive online experience. So why do we act differently online? Well if you think about it,
there’s a lot about chatting online that’s pretty different
than talking in person. And it’s these differences
that can lead us to do things online that
we normally wouldn’t do. In the paper, there’s
about six main things about online communication
that lower disinhibition. But for this video, we’ll
focus on the big three. One, anonymity, two lag time, and three, lack of nonverbal cues. Okay first, let’s discus anonymity, which by the way is one
of the hardest words to say in the English language. Anony-ny-ny, nevermind. A lot of time we’re communicating
online, we’re anonymous, which means other users
don’t know who we really are. This is especially true on
forums or anonymous apps and this lack of
accountability can make us feel free to do or say whatever. We’re less worried about
real life consequences because no one knows who we are. So you might just be saying
stuff all willy-nilly. But on the other hand, you could open up about personal stuff that’s bothering you. Next up is lag time. When we’re communicating
online and on social media, it doesn’t always happen in real time. There’s often a delay between
when we post something and when we get a response
and this lag time can lead us to say more impulsive stuff. We could just post something and bounce and not really worry
about the consequences. (sad music) But on the flip side, this
delay can also give us more time to pause and think about
how we respond to something. Finally, let’s talk
about how there’s a lack of non-verbal cues online. So even if you know who someone is online, you can’t always read their body language, facial expressions, or tone,
which gives you super valuable information on how they may be feeling. Without these cues to respond to, you might not self-censor as much. Like if you’re talking
to someone face to face and you can read that
they’re unhappy or bored or indifferent to what you’re saying, you might choose to shut up. But online, you don’t have those cues, so you’ll probably just keep going. Side note, this is exactly
why we need a sarcasm font. It’s gotten me in trouble way too much. Okay so all that can help
explain why we act differently online and like I said before, some times that’s a good
thing and sometimes it’s bad. This kind of freedom can create really supportive environments online. It can be helpful if you’re young and trying to figure out your identity. Like take for example someone who’s thinking about coming out. They can find support in hearing about other people’s journeys and they can post and ask questions that they may otherwise not feel comfortable asking in person. And there’s research to back this up. There’s a positive association
between online forums and wellbeing of people
in marginalized groups. Online communities can also help people deal with problems they might be too shy or embarrassed to talk about in person. Like if you’re grappling
with a health problem or a relationship concern
or a variety of other sensitive issues and these
types of meaningful connections can be a really good thing. Like really good. Really good. And benefits of online forums can extend into the real world. People can feel empowered to rally and organize behind causes. But the flip side of all
of this is that people are also inclined to act
out, so it’s not surprising that recent surveys have
found that 40% of adults have experienced harassment online and 66% have witnessed it. And 59% of teens have been
harassed or cyberbullied. Not cool people, just be nice. Of course it’s not all the
online disinhibition effect that makes us act a certain way online. Other things like your personality
and your life experiences definitely influence how you act. Researchers have even found
that there are certain online conditions that can
provoke people into trolling. If you wanna learn more about that, check out our video on internet trolls. You know I love a shameless plug. So for better or worse,
the internet really can make you act differently
than you would face to face. So as always, I’m your host Myles Bess. Now I share when I was mean to Miles Best, but now I wanna know, have
you ever acted differently online than you would in person? Tell us about it in the comments below. Feeling inspired to learn more about how technology affects you? Be sure to check out our video that asks, when is the right age to
start using social media? I also wanna give a shout
out to Common Sense Education who we collabed with on this video. If you’re a teacher, be sure to check out their digital citizenship curriculum in the description below. Thanks guys. You’re awesome. Till next time, peace out.

32 thoughts on “Is the Internet Making You Meaner?”

  1. You don't get trolls on your videos because you don't get views on your video

    love your vid though

  2. The socks and sandals thing got a chuckle out of me! 😁
    I’m so guilty. However, i have found that is one transgression people are more than happy to shame me for to my face! πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†

  3. Sarcasm is pronounciated with an exclamation point in parentheses, EG: (!)

    Year 12 English electives were useful for something at least πŸ˜›

  4. I always try to be polite and correct in any written communication: Anonymity on the Internet is never guaranteed. Written communication can stay around a surprisingly long time. I try to filter out people who are obviously mean – they generally don't have much useful to say.

  5. I'm not sure people in general are meaner online, isn't it, at least in part, that those people who were always/already mean now have a platform, a megaphone, and an audience. They're setting the agenda. But it seems ridiculous to suggest that human nature has changed in the last five or ten years. If people really were mean, then they wouldn't care that they were mean, and videos like this wouldn't get made. There is a huge centre ground, I think we have to re-learn how to ignore extremists, and take back conversations.

  6. The internet is like alcohol. It lowers your inhibitions. You will show things and say things that you normally wouldn't but would think. Some people just like to argue and some people are just mean.

  7. Damn you social media on the internet!! Friends and family never argued before you!… you bastard! πŸ˜‰

  8. It’s basically open communication versus πŸ†š secrets.

    I think honesty helps more than secrecy in relationships.

  9. What i love about this channel is the dedication you put towards showing all sides of the debate. When i read the title of the video i thought it was gonna be the usual speech about how the internet is bad, but you managed to both show the good and the bad outcomes of anonymous discourse online

  10. Internet trolls give real trolls a bad Name! I can't remember when I saw the last one being offered a goat to cross their bridge. No one wants to talk to them anymore!

  11. Or stated way back in 2004 by Penny Arcade in a more succinct, but way less erudite way (NSFW as well): https://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19

  12. It's as simple as always: people, use your brains and reflect about your impulsive emotional actions. That's nothing new with the internet, but it's useful once again.
    That way you can use the benefits of the internet, like being able to speak freely about things, without becoming an idiot online.

  13. While there's no sarcasm font, I do use pseudocode by ending a sarcastic comment with /sarcasm or πŸ˜‰ .

  14. I wonder if part of it is also similar to why people are so mean to other drivers on the road. The documentary by John Cleese called "The Human Face" he talks about how when you can't see the face of the other person it's harder to empathise with them causing people to be meaner to each other. It's why people can effortlessly navigate a crowded space on foot and there's no foot traffic rage, but there is road rage.

  15. People always act different about a point when its not face to face. Been this way thousands of years before the internet. And to think i came here to learn something new.πŸ˜‰πŸ’­. Booyah.

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