A large part of the problem is that it’s easy to act brave behind the shield of a keyboard and computer screen. On Facebook, comments are not even anonymous; your name and profile picture precede your comments. Yet some people still feel protected enough to be aggressive. Despite the lack of anonymity, people are more abrasive because it is easier to be rude in writing than in speech. The bigger problem, however, is Twitter. Users can achieve true anonymity through false identities, which encourages them to post even more hateful comments. In one study, 134,000 abusive social media mentions were reviewed and more than 88% of the messages were sent on Twitter. Even if it’s not your intention to incite anger or spark an argument, it’s all too easy to find yourself embroiled in a dispute online. True and productive communication relies heavily on interpreting someone’s tone of voice and body language – and both features are lost online.
The internet is no place to make a convincing argument because it encourages immediate reactions when a healthy debate requires us to slow down and think. Online comments can easily become too angry and disrespectful to be taken seriously. The odds of resolving a debate over the internet are not in your favor. An online debate can end in one of two ways: your contender may read what you have to say and suddenly open their eyes to the truth. They may profusely thank you for showing them the light. Much more likely, however, is that the argument will simply run in circles. Both parties will stand firm in their beliefs, giving nothing and trying to take everything.