Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Let's talk Internet niceness

How do you guys feel about the culture of the Internet these days? I came across two articles on Internet niceness this morning, and in light of my recent Open Letter To Anonymous, they both got me thinking.

In his piece for New York magazine, Nathan Heller wonders when the Internet got so nice, using words like cozy, friendly and warmth to describe life on the Web in 2012. He writes...

"For those of us who learned to love the web best as a hostile, predatory, somewhat haunted place, this kindness is startling—but not as startling as it might once have been. These days, life online has become friendly, well mannered, over-sweet. Everyone is on his or her very best behavior—and if they’re not, they tend to be quickly iced out of the conversation. The sweet camaraderie that flourished during Sandy isn’t just for terror and crisis anymore; it has become the way the Internet lives now ... We are endlessly flattering one another, too—sharing everything we do with everyone we know, and reflexively praising every biographical detail that comes over the transom to us. There is always sunshine to be found on the web, and usually we find it"
But writer Katie Baker presents quite a different portrait in her Jezebel article, arguing that this niceness doesn't extend to women and when it comes to comparing the sexes, things are still very unequal. One paragraph that stuck out to me...

"If you're a woman with an Internet presence, you need skin as thick as a redwood trunk to deal with the barrage of insults and threats that you'll unquestionably receive from misogynist trolls who want you to stop writing about topics that men also like to write about, or stop writing about feminism, or just stop writing, period. This has always been the case, but it's not getting better for most women I know. In fact, it seems to be getting worse."

My verdict: I can't help but agree with Baker. It seems as though women are under that metaphorical microscope so much more than men these days. What women write, do, say, don't say -- it's all ripe for criticism, and with the nature of the Web, usually, this criticism is instant.
Have you seen a change in the culture of the Internet? Do you think people are nicer now than they were, say, 10 years ago? Nastier? The same? Do you think the men vs. women debate is a valid one? I'd love to hear your thoughts! xoxo

[Photos via We Heart It]


  1. I have no idea what the internet was like 10 year ago as I think I only ever used msn messenger back then. However, I think the internet has more friendly people than unfriendly. The majority of people say nice things, its just that the ones that are negative are more likely to stick out in our minds.

    I switched off anonymous commenting on my blog before anyone ever got the chance to be nasty, these days if someone wants to say something bad they have to do it to me publicly.. puts them off straight away ;) x

  2. I kind of agree with Heller. Sometimes, especially in the case of blogs, I can really sense the OTT 'niceness' (and you can totally tell it's not always genuine). Everything is always amazing, fun, cool, nice.. But then again, I understand - I like to keep my blog a positive place so I don't really talk about things that upset me. However, I really appreciate it when others do! Honesty rocks. xxx

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  4. I think the internet is warm and fuzzy on the first layers, and really damn ugly beneath that. I once found my blog on some man-cave forum with a note about how they hoped my partner cheated on me. Thanks, guys!

  5. I think Pinterest is like mean girls for the internet. It can be so vindictive. There's good if you look for it,and that's why I'm grateful to my blogging friends, but I see so much hurt. I had no clue about Lena's experience. How horrible!

  6. Lena -- that is just AWFUL!!!! I hope you didn't take those loser's words to heart. It's so easy for people to spew hate sitting behind a computer. SO sad, really!

  7. Tiffany -- good comparison! A lot of the Web can feel like Mean Girls sometimes. It's almost like high school all over again. That's why I'm so glad I've found awesome blogging buddies like you! xoxo

  8. I think it depends on the Age group.. U need truck load of patience to deal with people on Twitter.

  9. I agree with DiDi's twitter comment, I think Twitter is where i have seen the most negativity and upset.. people can get pretty nasty on there x

  10. I don't want to jinx myself but I've been blogging on and off for over 8 years and I've dealt with very little meanness. I tend to get more upset when it's done to someone else yet tune it out the few times I've been subjected.

    I think people are just as nice and supportive now as they were then. As far as mean people, they'll always be around but I like to think they're the minority.

  11. Totally agreed with Katie when I read her piece last night. Sadly.

  12. Hey, very nice site. I came across this on Google, and I am stoked that I did. I will definitely be coming back here more often. Wish I could add to the conversation and bring a bit more to the table, but am just taking in as much info as I can at the moment. Thanks for sharing.
    Transport Chairs

    Keep Posting:)


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