CYBER RAGE…A VIRTUAL REALITY!
Most of us will have heard the term ‘Road Rage’ and may even be able to conjure up memories of being the target, or maybe the perpetrator, of this behind the wheel phenomenon. The term is defined as ‘sudden violent anger provoked in a motorist by the actions of another driver’.
The severity or intensity of what appears, from my experience anyway, to be an involuntary action, can be mild…such as a simple ‘hiss teet’, or extreme, to the point of physical violence. Sadly there are numerous cases where the rage has escalated to the point of a life being lost. Both at home and abroad!
Even the calmest of persons can attest to surprisingly spontaneous agitation levels once one gets behind the steering wheel of a vehicle. What is that? How would the neuroscientists explain it? Why do we morph after starting our engines and then revert to our normal sane selves…well in most cases…after we exit our ‘safe’ metal boxes with wheels? Ohhhh…maybe that’s a part of it!? We perceive our cars to be impenetrable fortresses that cannot be breached by the outside world and are, therefore, boosted (as the high schoolers call it) to act with heightened levels of aggression. Well hold that thought…
DON’T LOSE YOUR HEAD…TO SOCIAL MEDIA
Ok, back to that held thought. Because it leads me on to the real subject of this article. ‘Cyber Rage’. I made up the term, but I dare say it has been uttered by many around the globe…in their own language of course…since the dawn of online social relating. For those of us that engage on social media e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you should have noticed (unless I’m reading too much into things) that regular people have become rather hostile in their exchanges with others on the various social platforms. Yuh notice?
Seriously. I have observed persons making what, imo, are quite harmless statements, or factual commentary, only to have their opinion torn to shreds and their character assassinated by one or more ‘commentators’. “Isn’t it a lovely day?” might get a response like “lovely for you perhaps, but you and your bloodsucking kind are entrenched in the world of capitalistic privilege, so you would say that!” [Blank Stare]. While the example used might seem far-fetched…the exaggeration is deliberate to emphasize what now pertains in our collective cyber world. Why? It would appear that the notion of freedom of speech has been blown to cyber-bits and replaced with a culture of mental warfare, the weapons being words…and the occasional emoticon for good measure. (Don’t you just hate it when someone says something mean and then adds a sarcastic smiley face? :- / ).
SOCIAL MEDIA ETIQUETTE
While we ponder what social media etiquette might be evolving to become, in the meantime, here’s one test question I ask as a bench rule…”would you be comfortable saying what you are typing in the ‘comment’ box, to the face of the person you are ‘speaking’ to?”
I would suggest that in many instances, persons become braver, more argumentative and freer with their criticisms/verbal abuse, when they are hidden behind a screen. Just like the windscreen effect in Road Rage! I will await the psychologists opinions on the screen link, but in the meantime issues are further compounded by the huge egos that are aware that other members of the public are viewing their interaction with said attack-ee and so backing down or accepting that the other person’s point of view has far more validity/reason/soundness than their own, would mean ‘social media suicide’…another term I just made up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a specialty of cyber-psychology has been/will soon be developed, that might lend such a term. Just remember where you read it first! ;).
I don’t have a long commentary on this topic. It was more a public muse on my part to gauge if anyone else was noticing this rather unpleasant online trend. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a baby and bathwater situation for me. I consider social media to be one of the greatest creations of our time…we simply need to apply the same level of consciousness and caution that we would to other modes of engaging with other feeling, hurting, sensitive or vulnerable members of our human family.
By all means give your opinions, but check yourself if you find yourself going into a rage that not only raises your blood pressure and diminishes your power of sound reasoning (scientifically proven), but causes you to unleash a barrage of acid words and phrases that you might regret reading back in a week, month…or even years from now. If you still have difficulty remaining cool and calm when online, only use social media when you are in a good mood…I for one, prefer pleasant online socialising experiences and don’t want to buck-up your angry self on a thread.
Both behind your steering wheel and at your keyboard…Keep Calm and Act Wisely!