Last weekend, SNL had a sketch that was relavent to the TECH 621 discussion on identity this past week. Here’s the sketch on Hulu.
As silly as the ending was to this sketch was, I think the larger point is more important. The fact of the matter is that the commenters on these forums, are able to hide behind anonymity to say what they want in Internet forums. With the increased anonymity, individuals can say whatever they want, no matter how nice or mean it may be. SNL here is obviously taking the position that these people are “stupid”, but I think of it as something else.
I see this as more of an outlet for some people that they don’t g,et in the non-Internet world. The norms of the Internet differ enough from the norms of the non-Internet world enough that these comments may be more acceptable. When many of these comments cannot be said in public, sharing them on an Internet forum may be a place where these individuals feel socially accepted. Whether they are right or not is relative, but the fact that this phenomenon occurs means that there are separate norms between the Internet and the real world. Not only that, but that the outlet of the Internet has allowed people to connect on ideas that are not exactly popular or socially acceptable.