jazzoLOG: Hot Internet Discourse    
 Hot Internet Discourse6 comments
picture20 Feb 2007 @ 10:50, by Richard Carlson

Well-being means to be fully born, to become what one potentially is; it means to have the full capacity for joy and sadness or, to put it still differently, to awake from the half-slumber the average man lives in and to be fully awake.

---Erich Fromm

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.

---George Washington Carver

In the midst of the plain
sings the skylark,
free of all things.


Who could have guessed? There now exists a scholarly periodic journal entitled CyberPsychology & Behavior. Actually I'm relieved the psychologists are on this situation. I wouldn't be me if I hadn't run afoul already of various challenges social interaction on the Internet has created for the species.

Fortunately I have been spared the most extreme examples, such as leaving one's wife and children to marry a woman in a faroff land with whom one has carried on only in a chatroom. Or tracking down some guy on a message board who's flamed you once too often, going to his house, and punching him in the nose. Or finding a teenage lovely at MySpace and trying to arrange a chance to spy on her at the Mall. But I've been close enough to understand these strange behaviors.

But what is there to understand, and why do people react differently to Internet situations than ever they would face-to-face? Today an essay appears in The New York Times on the activity known as "flaming." One time I made a guy so mad at me at a group I was in (now merged with Yahoo) that he booted me out and, since he was an assistant webmaster or something of the thing, found other groups I was in, joined them and proceeded to terrorize me wherever I went. Here are some reasons they think we do stuff like that~~~

The New York Times
February 20, 2007
Flame First, Think Later: New Clues to E-Mail Misbehavior

Jett Lucas, a 14-year-old friend, tells me the kids in his middle school send one other a steady stream of instant messages through the day. But there’s a problem.

“Kids will say things to each other in their messages that are too embarrassing to say in person,” Jett tells me. “Then when they actually meet up, they are too shy to bring up what they said in the message. It makes things tense.”

Jett’s complaint seems to be part of a larger pattern plaguing the world of virtual communications, a problem recognized since the earliest days of the Internet: flaming, or sending a message that is taken as offensive, embarrassing or downright rude.

The hallmark of the flame is precisely what Jett lamented: thoughts expressed while sitting alone at the keyboard would be put more diplomatically — or go unmentioned — face to face.

Flaming has a technical name, the “online disinhibition effect,” which psychologists apply to the many ways people behave with less restraint in cyberspace.

In a 2004 article in the journal CyberPsychology & Behavior, John Suler, a psychologist at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J., suggested that several psychological factors lead to online disinhibition: the anonymity of a Web pseudonym; invisibility to others; the time lag between sending an e-mail message and getting feedback; the exaggerated sense of self from being alone; and the lack of any online authority figure. Dr. Suler notes that disinhibition can be either benign — when a shy person feels free to open up online — or toxic, as in flaming.

The emerging field of social neuroscience, the study of what goes on in the brains and bodies of two interacting people, offers clues into the neural mechanics behind flaming.

This work points to a design flaw inherent in the interface between the brain’s social circuitry and the online world. In face-to-face interaction, the brain reads a continual cascade of emotional signs and social cues, instantaneously using them to guide our next move so that the encounter goes well. Much of this social guidance occurs in circuitry centered on the orbitofrontal cortex, a center for empathy. This cortex uses that social scan to help make sure that what we do next will keep the interaction on track.

Research by Jennifer Beer, a psychologist at the University of California, Davis, finds that this face-to-face guidance system inhibits impulses for actions that would upset the other person or otherwise throw the interaction off. Neurological patients with a damaged orbitofrontal cortex lose the ability to modulate the amygdala, a source of unruly impulses; like small children, they commit mortifying social gaffes like kissing a complete stranger, blithely unaware that they are doing anything untoward.

Socially artful responses emerge largely in the neural chatter between the orbitofrontal cortex and emotional centers like the amygdala that generate impulsivity. But the cortex needs social information — a change in tone of voice, say — to know how to select and channel our impulses. And in e-mail there are no channels for voice, facial expression or other cues from the person who will receive what we say.

True, there are those cute, if somewhat lame, emoticons that cleverly arrange punctuation marks to signify an emotion. The e-mail equivalent of a mood ring, they surely lack the neural impact of an actual smile or frown. Without the raised eyebrow that signals irony, say, or the tone of voice that signals delight, the orbitofrontal cortex has little to go on. Lacking real-time cues, we can easily misread the printed words in an e-mail message, taking them the wrong way.

And if we are typing while agitated, the absence of information on how the other person is responding makes the prefrontal circuitry for discretion more likely to fail. Our emotional impulses disinhibited, we type some infelicitous message and hit “send” before a more sober second thought leads us to hit “discard.” We flame.

Flaming can be induced in some people with alarming ease. Consider an experiment, reported in 2002 in The Journal of Language and Social Psychology, in which pairs of college students — strangers — were put in separate booths to get to know each other better by exchanging messages in a simulated online chat room.

While coming and going into the lab, the students were well behaved. But the experimenter was stunned to see the messages many of the students sent. About 20 percent of the e-mail conversations immediately became outrageously lewd or simply rude.

And now, the online equivalent of road rage has joined the list of Internet dangers. Last October, in what The Times of London described as “Britain’s first ‘Web rage’ attack,” a 47-year-old Londoner was convicted of assault on a man with whom he had traded insults in a chat room. He and a friend tracked down the man and attacked him with a pickax handle and a knife.

One proposed solution to flaming is replacing typed messages with video. The assumption is that getting a message along with its emotional nuances might help us dampen the impulse to flame.

All this reminds me of a poster on the wall of classrooms I once visited in New Haven public schools. The poster, part of a program in social development that has lowered rates of violence in schools there, shows a stoplight. It says that when students feel upset, they should remember that the red light means to stop, calm down and think before they act. The yellow light prompts them to weigh a range of responses, and their consequences. The green light urges them to try the best response.

Not a bad idea. Until the day e-mail comes in video form, I may just paste one of those stoplights next to my monitor.

Daniel Goleman is the author of “Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Oh yes, about that photo up there: it appears at a blog called The AV Club [link] with the following caption~~~

Battery Recall PSA
Thursday, August 24th, 2006

This is a Public Service Announcement: if you own a G4 Apple laptop, specifically the 12-inch iBook G4, 12-inch PowerBook G4 and 15-inch PowerBook G4, your battery may be on the recall list. These batteries were made by Sony, and they have been catching fire, hence recall. There are 1.8 Million batteries from Apple on the list, to find out if yours is there, go to the official apple site for the recall. Apparently they ship you a new battery, so you don’t have to lose your lappie or anything. I hope this helps some of you.

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20 Feb 2007 @ 12:57 by rayon : Cucumber it
Old Ayurvedic remedy for too much fire of any kind, any flaming stuff.

Cucumber juice straight from juicer. - a mid day flamer

Cucumber and parsnip soup. - for the feverish kind

Or there is just plain laughter, and moving on. Maybe these poor people should explore real life first; maybe they were trying to sneak one in on someone, testing themselves to be brave in a way they could not in real life, a sort of facing up to one's limitations. Do they have a good record on the friendship stakes, do they like people, or are they still feeling manipulated by cultures chief institutions? There are no short cuts to Life. Respect from the heart shows through most words however they are delivered, whatever the medium, I find. Sometimes there is Play, in kidding for fun to test, thats OK too, shows someone is alive!

We are having the same internet bullying stories being treated by Agony Aunts in the press here, did not read thro, but taken a bit too seriously me thinks judging by lengthy article. Towards the end noticed "counselling" was advised to sufferers. Strikes me, or is this expression non PC too, that if anyone in real life barges up on a group of strangers without knowing what they are talking about, they will get treated in a particular way!

Cucumber slices for tired eyes. 0 - 0

Needed a laugh. thanks Jazzo.  

20 Feb 2007 @ 16:16 by vaxen : Ah yes...
It wqould seem, as well, that the mighty q-cum-ber also allays other such outbreaks of the rajas guna...

I, of course, prefer shilladilla.

Glad you're still alive, alive o... jazzo.

I agree with nr that exploring so called 'real' life first is...

Well, then we must understand what we mean by 'real?' Seems to me, and some others too, that the term real is in need of some real sha-ping. Reality, so called, appears to be based on one thing alone, vis a vis, 'agreements!'

But you also must absolutely be aware of the hidden contracts that are so tiny and seeming non relevent that most just skip them over and sign the dotted line.

Agreements brought us to this world. So, pay up! Or I'll hound you to the ends of this world!

What? This world has no end? Who said that? Implanter org dilligence in constructing all those little Faux pas. Pas de diuex?

Cool graphic up there, PC left, jazzo... ? Qua?

Eras Eramis Serapis...  

20 Feb 2007 @ 17:40 by Quinty @ : Any excuse
for new jargon, and new academic specialties. That author who wrote the above could pile his words like bricks for all the clarity they offers. But they're impressive.

And in a society which often spends more time facing a screen than other living faces new jargon enjoys the benefit of anonymity. We project, perhaps, onto that "outside" world beyond our screen all our larger illusions, thoughts and fears. It is easier to tell a Liberal or a Conservative he is a swine when you only see the magic of your written words rapidly appearing on that small screen before you.

Any moron, including the one who wrote that New York Times piece above, can see that.

Aha! A flame!

Writing for these blogs is a new hybrid between talk and letter writing. Something unknown to Western Civilization. Both a cheapening and a marvel. The young growing up with this will adapt and become inventive, showing us old folks a new thing or two.

Some of we ancients marvel at the annoying phenomenon of numerous people walking about on the streets talking into cellphones. But this merely reflects back on our advanced age. Though we may tell ourselves that when we leave the house or office we would prefer to be left alone in order to communicate with the birds, the trees, and our own thoughts.

The web though seems to have been created for an X-urban age. And we could use a few more sparrows or places to walk out there. But most Americans don't know what it is to take a walk merely for the pleasure of walking, and looking at your immediate world. We do it in an organized and predetermined way, for health or exercise. You Europeans, though, may have more to look at in your wonderful cities. Here we have to get into a car to get there, wherever "there" is. Could the web be contributing to our obesity?

Another thing about writing on the web. How easy it is to go and on, as I have here. To become puffed up and solemn and perhaps even pompous. Just don't call me on that. I happen to have a baseball bat.....  

20 Feb 2007 @ 19:09 by C.C. @ : Hot internet....
Sometimes the fingers have a mind of their own. Sometimes the mind has fingers of its own. What we once wrote only to ourselves, we now write to the world. Except for poets. Poets generally wrote everything for the world to see. Richard Bach had a quote, I think in Jonathan Livingston Seagull (yes, I liked it, live with it) which I may remember wrong, but it's right in my mind - "you should live your life so as never to be ashamed of what is written or published about you, even if what is written or published is not true." Which reminds me of Charles Bukowski. Bukowski had no filter between him and the paper. And he just didn't care. Bukowski's writing is so raw you can reach out and touch his rough face and smell the alcohol on his breath. You can feel his heart pulsing, convulsing in the harsh bitter light that reveals both truth and lies. Hmm. Did you notice - the title Hot Internet DIscourse - a few change of letters and it becomes Hot Inter Course. Maybe that's what all those teens are really doing with their fingers on the keys, hoping for a deeper connection with God, looking for Truth, but when they come face to face with it, they flounder like a flounder on a hot sandy beach. Well, there is still hope. They are young. We all were once and look what became of us.  

21 Feb 2007 @ 05:43 by vaxen : Well Quinty san...
I just 'happen' to have a really nice baseball and I can throw a curve or two so...

Batter up! Haven't played since little league so I might be a bit rusty but you mention being so ancient? You identify with your 'body' too much.

We created those little cell phones, my friend, and all these peta-bytic marvels as well as the chips which run them, and can also uncreate them at any time so... I am, at least, as old as you (I think) and have the distinct pleasure of watching hordes of humans become enthralled with our 'trinkets.'

Young is a totally relative term. I am trillions and trillions of years in the making shaping creating, preserving and destroying industries that we propagate in these MEST verses and beyond MEST ultima-realities so what do these thralls have over me? Why are we enthralling them, and you, with all these robotic sentients? ;)

I'll never tell. But it is fun seeing infinite spirit contract itself unto oblivion. You can't expand by shrinking! Always fun to see you come right on out of that shell and participate in the orgy of communication trends and vehicles. You deserve, as does jazzolog, a pat on the back and a kick in the pants for not confronting the terrible reality at your core. That which you truly are___source of all you do perceive and be. Be Do Have and stop hiding your wisdom away from the light of this glorious new day which is dawning, dawning, dawning.

What is the value of being connected to your creator?
Tell me about it.

What is the importance of being connected to your creator?
Tell me about it.

;) Heh! ;)

Luv yaz,



21 Feb 2007 @ 10:49 by tricia : Richard, did you write this for me?
Have experienced a bit of flaming because of misunderstood words, myself, and it really can be unsettling, to put it mildly. All of these symbols to replace human expression and emotion are just another tool of conformity to keep us distanced and unconnected, me thinks. Love ~ T.  

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