Monthly Archives: January 2012

Media and Society: Blog Post 2: Week 4: Flaming

Another problem with the Online Disinhibition Effect is that people oftentimes feel invisible to whom or whatever they are typing to or at. This is one of the primary reasons that flaming is more common in online settings. When people have stored aggression or anger and they see something that they can take that anger out on in an online setting, they sometimes will. This can be due to the fact that the other party cannot see them and in some cases, the flamer will remain either anonymous or will hide behind a pseudonym or screen name, thus furthering the distance between his or her offline self and the online flaming part his or herself. Add to this the invisibility factor and suddenly there is a formula that the flamer sees as a perfect situation to release aggression in a way that he or she would never consider in an offline situation. (If you have pent up aggression, please seek counseling.)

I do think that the Online Disinhibition Effect is something that web users, as well as those in the creative industry, actually, any industry, should at least be aware of, so that when he or she is tempted to post something “out of character” it would be reconsidered as it can have an impact of people’s opinions of one’s offline character. People have posted things online about bosses or customers and lost jobs because of the things posted. Be aware of what and why you are saying something before you post. Whether or not you distinguish your online self as being different than your offline self, it’s good to pause, take a moment and realize that whatever you post online is still being posted by you, regardless of your screen name, pseudonym, or invisibility to the other party. You are you, regardless of if you are online or offline. If you’re ever tempted to start flaming, remember, pause, take a minute, and think; if you wouldn’t say it in real life or to that person’s face, or if you don’t want your clients to see what you were about to say, don’t say it in an online setting.

Media and Society: Blog Post 1: Week 4: TMI

The Online Disinhibition Effect is when someone does or says things online that they wouldn’t do or say in real life. Examples of this can range from people ranting about their bosses, to when people do extraordinarily nice things for someone else that they wouldn’t normally do, to flaming on message boards and blog sites, etc. One of the reasons that the Online Disinhibition Effect can be a problem is that people often share way too much information online, leading to some serious “TMI” moments, which, other than making the viewing party feel extremely awkward at the time, can result in serious embarrassment for the sharer at a later date.  Do you want your clients knowing about that moment?  Consider that before posting.

I think that one of the reasons that online scammers have any “success” is due in part to the Online Disinhibition Effect. They weave a story of how the email recipient can supposedly help some people group somewhere and all of a sudden the scammer ends up with access to the credit card of the unknowing victim (Don’t do this. Generally speaking, if it’s in your spam folder, there’s probably a reason.), because the victim felt overly compelled to help, or do something that they thought was nice.  This is obviously a problem, which I believe is lessened at least in part by the savvy, as well as by Spam or Junk Mail filters in email accounts.

How do we guard against the “TMI” effect caused by Online Disinhibition? Basically what it boils down to is this: If you wouldn’t do or say it in real life, don’t do or say it online. So if you wouldn’t open up about that kidney stone your uncle’s nephew’s brother’s son-in-law’s aunt’s fish had last month while vacationing near the border of Tanzania, please don’t share it online. The “TMI” effect thanks you in advance.

*TMI = Too Much Information