Why do people act like jerks online?

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I spoke to a friend about this subject yesterday. I have lots of thoughts about this.

First there is something called the Online Disinhibition effect. It says that people are more inclined to let down their inhibitions online. This can be both helpful and unhelpful. It is helpful when people can form communities and share. It is unhelpful when people swear, threaten and encourage others to violence.

I am not saying that you don’t have a right to swear or threaten, but that it is a scientific sign that what you are doing is toxic to yourself and others. You can ruin your life all you want, and a great many people are popular and rich while spewing toxic thoughts and words into the world.

It is obvious on social media. If you swear and act obnoxious people like to watch a show and either agree with you, or enjoy you making yourself look like a monkey. If they agree with you, often it is because you appeal to emotion without sharing something that will enlighten or uplift people.

There are people who can be entertaining and enlighten and uplift people but those are less popular. People don’t want to learn a lesson and be wise, they want to feel freedom and independence and they think that means that they have a right to do/say whatever they want without any consequence.

You do have a right to do/say whatever you want within certain legal limits. I would also add that there is a kindness limit we should use too. We should consider if what we are doing is helping to increase the kindness in the world, and if it is not, to stop doing it. Too often people hurt others on their way to success and then wonder why they are hurt when they are no longer successful.

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We all act the victim until we are the oppressor.