I just finished reading Death threats against bloggers are NOT “protected speech” (why I cancelled my ETech presentations), having been led there from Taking the week off. Before I get to expressing an opinion about this, I just want to express my support for those who have been the victim of these attacks.
The kind of abusive, sociopathic behaviour demonstrated in the posts they are talking about really makes me sick. I have only been following the blog world for a little while, but I have been participating in and watching online interactions since the early 90s – including IRC, then ICQ, various more mainstream chat environments, and multiplayer games. Watching verbal abuse in chat rooms. Watching anti-social, racist, sexist, and just generally unacceptable behaviour is games like Ultima Online, World of Warcraft, and Halo, not to mention Saint’s Row (note that I am NOT criticizing these games per se – I am commenting on the behaviour of people in these games where they can hide behind thier characters).
It has always boggled my mind how many people abandon all civility and rational behaviour as soon as they think they believe they are protected by anonymity.
It has at times made me question human nature. Are these people representative of the world at large? Would they act this way in the “real” world if the thought they could get away with it?
I guess that last point is what scares me the most. It makes me wonder how much of “civilization” really is just a thin veneer – given the right (or wrong) circumstances, would much of the population resort to this kind of behaviour if there were no consequences, like we’ve seen in all those “post-apocolyptic” science fiction movies?
I would like to hope not – but this kind of stuff scares me.