Browsing through the comments posted in response to various blogs, particularly Guido Fawkes, it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that we are a very angry, potentially violent, nation. Why is it that, under the protection of total anonymity, posters feel they can use the kind of disparaging, insulting and provocative language which (I presume) they would not use in person? What is it that makes people so angry and intolerant?
I guess this is the same phenomenon which leads people to be rude and aggressive to people on the other end of a phone – they talk to people they can’t see in a way they would never have the guts to do face-to-face.
Same with drivers. Why do we feel that we can use the most threatening language imaginable to complete strangers simply because they’ve forgotten to signal right at a set of traffic lights? (I mention this as an example, partly because it irritates the hell out of me as well, but also because I was guilty of doing exactly that last year. The driver who was queuing behind me sounded his horn angrily and then started shouting out the most foul-mouthed abuse I’ve ever heard. The look on his face was one of pure hatred; I have no doubt at all that at that moment, he would gladly have seen me dead. For not switching my indicator on!) If a pedestrian started shouting at another pedestrian in the same way, we would rightly conclude that he was a nutter. But by sitting behind a driver’s wheel, they enjoy some sort of bizzare immunity from the judgment that would otherwise be dispensed.
If the internet is truly reflective of our society, as some claim, then we truly are a nation of bitter, unhappy, abusive cowards with no respect for anyone but ourselves. I can only conclude – and hope – that the internet is nothing of the sort, that it simply gives a voice to those tragic individuals who previously had no outlet for their many unfounded grievances.