According to a new study, internet bullies are just as mean in real life.
The study, from the political science department at Aarhus University, demystifies the long-held hypothesis that people are only nasty while posting anonymously online.
And according to a study published in the American Political Science Review, it also found that nice people may wish to circumvent all political debates online, whether the forums are antagonistic or not.
The researchers did discover that the hostility levels of online political debates were worse than offline discussions, but that the frequency of behaviour was about the same online and in real life.
Michael Bang Peterson, the professor who co-authored the study, told the magazine Engineering & Technology that the behaviour of an internet troll was much more noticeable than the behaviour of the same person offline.
Michael Bang Peterson told the magazine that their research revealed that the reason many people feel that online political debates are so antagonistic has to do with the visibility of aggressive behaviour online.
The researchers began the paper with an apparent dig at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who was named the Time Magazine ‘Person of the Year’ in 2010.
The Time Magazine piece on Mark Zuckerberg reads, as cited by the researchers that Facebook wants to populate the wilderness, tame the howling mob and turning the lonely, antisocial world of random chance into a friendly world.
The researchers noted that efforts from social media titans to get people to engage in civil debates on subjects such as politics have flopped spectacularly.
The researchers wrote that online discussions about politics turned out to be nasty, brutish and not nearly short enough.
The researchers cited a 2017 Pew Research Centre survey which found that 62 per cent of Americans thought online harassment had become a significant problem for the country.
The researchers wrote that there seems to be a hostility gap where online discussions were felt significantly more antagonistic than offline discussions.
While conducting their study, the researchers considered the mismatched hypothesis, one of the most common theories in academic discussion about online hostility.
The mismatch hypothesis speculates that otherwise agreeable people can turn into nasty trolls when they can’t physically see the person with whom they’re arguing.
Alexander Bor, a post-doctorate researcher who co-authored the study, tweeted about the results of the study.
He tweeted that the people that are hateful on Twitter offend others in face to face discussions too.
People post on social media all the time and don’t use vulgarity or confrontational language of any kind, but others will be on them like a deranged pack of wolves, attacking that person’s intellect, their character and sometimes even their family. And it’s remarkable the speed and viciousness with which they will attack.
A lot of people don’t like to accept that a large number of people are bad. It has never made any sense to blame the internet for their behaviour. Nice people are in the minority.
Unfortunately, trolls are usually people who have an opinion on everything, and they take it out on the keyboard, lurking behind a screen, but what we should remember is never to feed them because they’re like gremlins and the more you feed them, the more they propagate, and sadly, media makes people believe that they’re important.
But maybe it’s because we’re very near death of free speech, so the only outlet left is to voice their frustration, and it’s no surprise people have become bitter and discouraged by all this madness, which they just inflict on other people who just want to get on with their lives.