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The Pathology in the Anonymous Forums

Discussion in 'Psychiatry' started by Poety, Dec 7, 2005.

  1. Poety

    5+ Year Member

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    Ok, I just have to know - what is it about anonymous forums that makes people think they can be nasty and make rude comments all the time? I mean, the residency forums are no where NEAR as bad as the pre-allo but come on.

    This being the psych forum, I'm interested in learning what your thoughts are on this whole "pathological" type of behavior - is it because people are truly nasty deep down and they feel safe to vent here? Is it because most medical people are fundamentally insecure and hell bent on one up-ing eachother? Or is it that everyone just wants to be right? I'd tend to think its not the latter since some of the comments people make are of no significance and directed at just putting a poster down - so I'm stumped.

    Thoughts? Ideas? Please share! :oops: Sazi, as the moderator I just know you have something to add right?
     
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  3. Anasazi23

    Anasazi23 Your Digital Ruler
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    Well, I know what you're saying. I think that anonymous forums are just that...anonymous. Therefore, whatever subtle ego needs or pathologies that are waiting to be manifested will express themselves given the chance to do so without repercussion.

    Many of these folks are science dorks that do poorly romantically, and are unathletic, etc. The chance to become a 'bigshot' and mentally bully others or throw unchecked insults fills an ego need that they've had, but were unable to fulfill.

    One can see this in MMORPGs (Massively-multiplayer online role playing games) such as Everquest or Ultima online, or Warcraft online. There, computer nerds, along with many other more 'normal' folk gather and create characters. They become ego extensions in a fantasy world, where they can help others, or engage in 'grief' behavior, killing other people and the like. It serves an ego need.

    Boards such as these are filled with passive-aggressiveness, direct agression, sarcasm, and many other behaviors. Examples would include making fun of moderators and other 'authority figures,' trolls, people who post opposing opinions for the sake of doing so (even if it's against conventional or proven logic); there are even people who fake their genders or credentials to serve their own purpose. On the internet, anything goes, and in the majority of cases, they will never be disproven, per se. This again serves an ego need, and serves to satisfy whatever preconscious, unconscious or even conscious void that is not being satiated in their normal lives.

    Some people are banned or post held for their perceived obnoxiousness...yet return under the same names or devise new ones to continue to annoy and deceive others. It's more common than you think, and relates to the same theme...one of ego needs.

    Anyway, I know that was a little bit of a rant. Just got back from ziprasidone IM talk in SoHo. Great sushi and lots 'o wine.
    :hardy:
     
  4. OldPsychDoc

    OldPsychDoc Senior Curmudgeon
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    [thinking=OPD]"Dang, he's on to me. Pretty soon someone is going to figure out that I'm really just a geeky 14 year old girl..."[/thinking]
    :laugh:
     
  5. Anasazi23

    Anasazi23 Your Digital Ruler
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    The neopets gave it away, OPD.

    Fess up, how many rare items do you have for it?
     
  6. Anasazi23

    Anasazi23 Your Digital Ruler
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    The neopets gave it away, OPD.

    Fess up, how many rare items do you have for it?
    :laugh:
     
  7. OldPsychDoc

    OldPsychDoc Senior Curmudgeon
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    Really, it's my daughter's---I swear!!!! :eek:

    And while we're on the subject of fessing up, Sazi---could you explain the pharmacological justification for pairing wine and sushi with an IM dopamine antagonist? Hmmm? :p
     
  8. Poety

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    You two are hilarious, like mutt and jeff or something :p

    Thanks for that reply Sazi - loved it! I think you are absolutely right and now I feel centered knowing the reasons "why" ;)

    Living in my balance babay, living in a balance. :cool: :horns:
     
  9. writerneer

    writerneer New Member

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    My girlfriend is a regular contributor to the forum, and forwarded this to me since I'm doing research on "online communities" such as this (I'm studying for a master's in human factors and human-computer interaction).

    Anyway, one important problem is that people who are new to sites such as SDN do not always know the culture of the site, and how they are expected to behave. They may offer an opinion the way they would in a normal conversation, but without the gestures that may lessen the impact of the statement. For instance, they might say, "That's not true- this is what actually happened." This might anger someone and then a "flaming" war ensues. A veteran of the site may say instead, "IMHO, I think that this actually happened... :) ". IMHO and :) soften the statement.

    If you want to know more, search for Jenny Preece- she's written a ton on the subject.
     
  10. Anasazi23

    Anasazi23 Your Digital Ruler
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    This may be true, but how to explain the people that come to the board, act in a clearly obnoxious manner, or seem to post on certain topics that they know are inflammatory almost exclusively despite multiple poor reactions to them?

    It would be nice to believe that people are simply misinformed about the forum culture, but there are way too many trolls and consistently negativistic posters to apply the concept to everyone.

    Then again, that's just my humbly subservient opinion! :D :oops: :luck:
    :) ;) :love: :idea:
     
  11. Poety

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  12. writerneer

    writerneer New Member

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    It's impossible to provide a complete answer without writing a long, long post because there are a lot of problems that could explain obnoxious behavior, and it doesn't just happen with people who are new to a site. I was just giving one of many reasons it could happen.

    Anyway, here's an article I found that may be of interest (it's about people who troll at a feminist web site):

    http://rkcsi.indiana.edu/archive/CSI/WP/WP02-03B.html
     
  13. Anasazi23

    Anasazi23 Your Digital Ruler
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    Interesting; though I only skimmed the article. Not that different than what we see here. I like to think that the SDN mods would put up with that guy for a much shorter period of time.
     
  14. Hurricane

    Hurricane Senior Member
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    The varying "forum cultures" is a very interesting topic. I am a member of another online community, mostly women, and the "culture" there is one of lively debate and discussion, with well thought out posts and proper grammar. So when I first came to SDN, it was jolting. I started a topic on the clinical rotations forum about some questionably sexist comments I had experienced on my neurosurg rotation. I wasn't really complaining - I just wanted to start a discussion about gender issues and various specialties. But the overwhelming majority of posts told me to suck it up and quit whining. :rolleyes: I didn't come back for months, until I found the psych forum, where people seem more interested in discussing things instead of snarking on each other. So even among the SDN forum, there are little "micro-cultures." I rarely post in the medical student forums anymore. It reminds me too much of the movie Mean Girls. :laugh:

    Speaking of anonymous forums, the community I was talking about above allowed people to post anonymously until very recently. So you could either post under your username or log out and post as "anonymous." Every once in a while, someone would snark at someone else anonymously, but it wasn't a huge problem. Then someone started a thread called "Anon Confessions" with silly anon posts like "I pick my nose." Harmless stuff. But then people started posting these anon posts about other forum members, attacking them personally. "I think that so and so is a whiny bitch and her husband sounds like a loser and I think her accidental pregnancy was really on purpose and reading her posts makes me sick." Really nasty stuff. It was like there was all of this pent-up aggression and it just exploded into a 40 something page thread. So while people were posting under their usernames, maybe they were a little more uninhibited than in real life, but they were only semi-anonymous - they were afraid to express certain opinions under their usernames, because they didn't want to tarnish their online "reputation." But when posting as "anonymous" they were truly anonymous, and there was no need to filter their opinions, despite their hurtfulness, because it wouldn't affect others' opinions of their online persona. Some of the anons even said stuff like "this is cathartic" or "it feels so good to get this off my chest" before ripping into someone. It was intriguing to watch. I couldn't stop reading that thread - kind of like a car wreck that you can't help but look at. Eventually the forum adminstrators disabled anon posting, and things pretty much went back to normal. But it was a fascinating look at the dark side of human nature...
     
  15. Poety

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    what an interesting and fascinating bit of information Hurricane! Things that make you go hmmmmm!
     
  16. willow212

    willow212 Senior Member
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    Very interesting article. I agree that there definitely are forums on SDN are that are more "hostile" than others. Glad the psych board isn't one of them. :cool:
     

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