Thursday, December 21, 2006

Internet Etiquette -- Is there Such a Thing?

David Pogue is a technology columnist for the New York Times, and he writes a blog called Pogue's Posts which I have started reading quite often.

A recent entry is called "The Netiquette Diaries," where he posts comments he received about a previous post on Online Etiquette, or lack there of. There was this little snippet from his recent post:

Blogger Michael Moncur ( responded to my own posting, noting that the percentage of nastiness climbs with the popularity of the blog:

* “What Pogue has probably noticed is that, as his writing presence grew from a tiny thing read only by techies to a mass-audience phenomenon, he’s getting more and more e-mails and comments from jerks. It’s easy to look at this and think that people everywhere are losing their manners…I’ve had the same thoughts more than once. But now that my wife and I run several different sites, we’ve learned that the smaller ones have less jerks, and different sites attract different sorts of audiences.”

There is an argument to be made on both sides of the coin. With the anonymity the Internet provides, people are more brazen or bold about what they say. If it is difficult, at best, to prove libel, slander and defamation of character through normal means, the Internet makes that near impossible.

I wonder if the lack of etiquette might be mistaken for passion. The Internet is teeming with passionate people, and passionate people aren't always the most eloquent or the most mindful of manners. Or is it just that the popularity of one particular blog brings out the Jerk in people? They feel the need to voice their opinion, however outlandish or ridiculous or bad-mannered it is?

Is there a direct correlation to be drawn between moving farther into the mainstream and thus into more Jerky waters?

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