In last Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast, I discussed unfriendly disputes in online communities. The question was:
Why are disputes so belligerent in online communities? I’ve noticed that people get into very loud and heated disputes online, whereas that doesn’t seem to happen in local communities. Disputes in local communities tend to be less frequent, less belligerent, and last for a shorter time – even when some people end up hating each other and refusing to have anything to do with each other in the end. Why is that? Also, why do people who are closest with each other (whether close friends, dating, or married) seem to agree more on hot-button issues? Are people more willing to reject a stranger’s arguments than those of a friend? Is that an error?
My answer, in brief:
Conflicts with other people are inevitable in life. Online conflicts are often more belligerent, due to the differences between online and in-person communication. People should try to manage online conflicts in a sane way, with respect for facts about the limitations of the medium.
Here’s the video of my full answer:
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