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The Online Disinhibition Effect
By Lee Hopkins
My erudite colleague in Washington DC, Andrea Weckerle (pronounced, on good authority, as ‘weck-err-lee’), almost psychically taps into something that has been concerning me this week — the ability for what might ordinarily be wise, gentle and considerate souls to put fingers to keyboard before the brain has fully engaged and thence launch into invective and spit-hurling.
For those of us who have blogs and are heavily involved in social media, their benefits are easily recognizable. Their strength lies in their ability to invite and encourage communication or, as Susan Getgood writes,
“The reason blogs have traction is that they deliver on the promise of the World Wide Web. Everybody *can* be a publisher. That completely changes the equation — the ‘printing press’ is no longer scarce, limited to those with deep pockets.”
Suler then outlines several factors in detail:
- You Don’t Know Me (dissociative anonymity)
- You Can’t See Me (invisibility)
- See You Later (asynchronicity)
- It’s All in My Head (solipsistic introjection)
- It’s Just a Game (dissociative imagination)
- We’re Equals (Minimizing Authority)
Suler’s article certainly sheds light on the inappropriate behavior occasionally seen online and is therefore well worth the read.
So to are the comments, especially from my favourite Torontorian, The Divine Ms P, who reports on a study from a little while back that suggests egocentrism lies at the heart of nasty emails; I can personally report that egocentrism may also lie at the heart of some blog comments and posts…
And if you are new to the blogosphere and wondering if we are all an incestuous lot, reading and citing each other’s blogs, then the answer is ‘yes’.
We have developed a community of like-minded souls, all passionate about the ability of words and images and human interaction to further business activity and success. We read each other and cite each other because we respect each other’s work, ideas, experiences and point of view.
Does this lead to ‘Group Think’? Potentially, but we are disparate enough both geographically and culturally, as well as experientially, to be able to politely and respectfully ‘agree to disagree’ on issues. When we do agree (which is about 99.9% of the time), it is because we have come to the same point of view through different paths.
And we ALL welcome YOUR point of view — so jump in and post a comment on any of our blogs. Our community is diverse and yet focused on business communications. To find us all, start here on Constantin Basturea’s phenomenal PR wiki and follow the links to our blogs. Or else just start following links from my blog to others, who link to others, and who in turn link to others…
Come join the conversation. But please do it politely and respectfully…
Reports I have written:
Measuring the impact and ROI of social media - for Ark Group
Making Social Media work for your business - for Ark Group
Social Media: The New Business Communication Landscape - for Ark Group
How to get started with podcasting in your organisation - for Melcrum Publishing
Contributing author to How to use social media to solve critical internal communication issues - for Melcrum Publishing
Contributing author to How to communicate with hard-to-reach employees - for Melcrum Publishing
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For your consideration:
Writing for a web audience