From: Monty Solomon
Flame First, Think Later: New Clues to E-Mail Misbehavior
By DANIEL GOLEMAN
The New York Times
February 20, 2007
Jett Lucas, a 14-year-old friend, tells me the kids in his middle
school send one other a steady stream of instant messages through the
day. But there's a problem.
"Kids will say things to each other in their messages that are too
embarrassing to say in person," Jett tells me. "Then when they
actually meet up, they are too shy to bring up what they said in the
message. It makes things tense."
Jett's complaint seems to be part of a larger pattern plaguing the
world of virtual communications, a problem recognized since the
earliest days of the Internet: flaming, or sending a message that is
taken as offensive, embarrassing or downright rude.
The hallmark of the flame is precisely what Jett lamented: thoughts
expressed while sitting alone at the keyboard would be put more
diplomatically - or go unmentioned - face to face.
Flaming has a technical name, the "online disinhibition effect,"
which psychologists apply to the many ways people behave with less
restraint in cyberspace.