Online whining is ridiculous

In a time of political campaigns, campus controversies and absurdly long lines at Einstein’s, social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter have become the fail-proof solution to every important issue ever.

Or people at least seem to act that way, judging by the overflow of rants and raves against and about anyone and anything on newsfeeds every day.

As a writer and a journalist, defending the First Amendment freedom of speech is a given part of my job. With that in mind, I believe you can say almost whatever you want — I just question whether some things should be said.

It may be pragmatic of me, but I fail to see how saying how much something sucks will make it stop sucking and argue that people merely want attention and to feel validated by someone agreeing with their stated point, however useless or unacceptable that point may be.

In 2004 psychologist John Suler noted and described traits of the online disinhibition effect, described in the webcomic “Penny Arcade” as Greater Internet F—wad Theory (normal person + anonymity + audience = total f—wad).

Basically, if people think they can get away with saying something beyond obscene online, they will say it. Go look at a YouTube comment feed if you would like an example.

According to Suler’s research, people may interact differently online than in person because they feel the Internet acts as a sort of barrier, one that blocks social cues such as body language and vocal inflection and gives the speaker no expectation of significant backlash for unacceptable behavior.

Working inside this theory, a person has the ability to say absolutely anything they want, no matter how insulting, irrelevant or nonsensical.

The way people talk to and about each other online can be just appalling, especially considering how different some of the same conversations would look in person.

Imagine this scenario: Person A does something to offend Person B, so Person B writes a complaining update on Facebook or Twitter vaguely resembling the original situation without specifically naming Person A or Person A’s offensive action.

Is this really supposed to fix the situation by making Person A have this life-changing epiphany and say, “This cryptic status sounds like an issue in my life that needs mending”?

This method of discourse is not only ineffective —after all, you wouldn’t have to tweet complaints if it fixed things — it is also cowardly and stupid. You don’t want to fix any problem as much as you want for someone to say, “That’s right! This person knows what they’re talking about.”

It seems like people think what they say online doesn’t count in the real world. Here’s the thing — the Internet is the real world because it is a record of conversations between real people.

Pretending like only you and your comments exist — but no one and nothing else — is no different than losing your mind to road rage just because other drivers can’t hear you, and both situations look equally ridiculous to observers.

If you have a legitimate beef with someone, grow a pair of your respective gonads and confront that person to his or her face.

Am I saying that I’ve never been guilty of this stupidly popular practice? No, but I do invite you to correct me if such a case occurs and do so boldly.