We see it on the web all the time, articles highly critical of politicians, actors, pop stars and others. Then come the highly inflammatory comments from readers using anonymous names. There are websites where you can critique restaurants, shops, services, etc. Sometimes these criticizers write some of the nastiest things. We are now seeing this type of nastiness on websites set up by disgruntled community association owners.
I recently read an article on the internet that addressed this very phenomena, calling it webtribution. Click here to read the article.
The author comments on people who write nasty reviews for a restaurant or book, “not because they dislike the product, but because they dislike the person who created it. Or signing up an acquaintance for email advertising lists. (I can assure you that if your inbox suddenly fills up with ads for male-enhancement treatments, someone is out to get you.)”
The author asks why we are not mature enough to “resist the temptation to seek Webtribution—even if it seems easy and (we hope) untraceable?
It's simple: The Internet turns us into a mob.“
The author quotes the director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (who knew there was such a Center) and professor of psychology at Bridgewater State College in Bridgewater, Mass. "We know that in a mob people will do socially unacceptable things they would never otherwise do." Her answer: "They feel invisible, so they cede responsibility."
The article states that psychologists have actually coined a term for this: the "online disinhibition effect," suggesting that they divide this type of behavior into two categories: "benign disinhibition" (which is what happens when someone says something private they might not have shared publicly with many people offline) and "toxic disinhibition" (expressing rudeness, anger, criticism or hate).
And, the author suggests that we need not look further than the websites that cater to retribution “if you want to see what toxic disinhibition looks like.”
Toxic disinhibition. . .Who knew?!