Originally Posted by diggler
The internet brings out appalling behaviour. I think we would all be much better off if discussion boards such as this required people to use their real names. People wouldn't write such nasty crap if they were accountable.
Internet anonymity is a good thing. Most of us wouldn't post here if we had to use our real names. The problem is that it takes good manners and intellectual discipline to post thoughtful, respectful posts, and most of us don't have what it takes to do it. We wouldn't do much better if we were accountable and exposed to all of mankind.
Forum rules help, but the most constructive thing, probably, is to "turn the other cheek," so to speak. If a poster gets nasty, isn't reading the posts he's criticizing, starts calling names, insists he's right regardless of any good evidence or alternative points of view, etc., we just have to walk away and resist the temptation to counterattack. Most of the nasty threads on here would die quickly if we weren't such suckers for trolls and pointless, circular arguments. Chances of changing another person's point of view are very small in any discussion. Once we we realize that we are probably stubbornly holding onto our own ill-founded viewpoint, which we won't relinquish, we see that everyone else is doing the same thing. So then we stop trying to change people's minds, and just present our views as just that - our point of view. People respond to that, start to listen, and discuss things with civility and intelligence.
One trick suggested by Benjamin Franklin is to never
state an opinion as though it is fact. To avoid this, we must use qualifiers such as "In my opinion...", "It seems to me that,...", "From my perspective...", "I could be wrong but..." This tends to put people at ease. They see right away that we're not trying to convince them that they are wrong. Intelligent discussion is more likely when we announce right off the bat that we know that we might not be right.