the internet regression

norman n. holland:

When communicating on the Internet, we set up a relationship with other people in which the people get less human and the machine gets more human. That is how the three signs of the Internet regression come into play: flaming, flirting, and giving. Our feelings toward the computer as computer become our feelings toward the people to whom we send e-mail or post messages. We flame to the person as though he or she were an insensitive thing, a machine that can't be hurt. We flirt with the machine as though it were a person and could interact with us, compliantly offering sex. We feel open and giving toward the computer because the computer is open and giving to us.

communication on the internet has its good and bad sides. the enourmous possibility for collaboration, information gathering and helpfulness is amazing. on the other hand we all have witnessed bullying, aggression, sexual attacks and other personifications of meanness.

some of you might know the case of christopher d. hermelin. actually a quite sad story, but the following quote stands out:

For all the hateful words that were lobbed at me, it barely ever bubbled over from the world of online forums and websites. My typewriter remains unsmashed, no one has ever threatened violence towards me in real life. Instead, there are these pockets of the web that are small and ignorable, filled with hate for a picture of me, for this idea of a hipster—for the audacity of bringing a typewriter to a park.

apparently one can have a human relation with any medium, but the computer which exhibits intelligent behaviour makes this process much more dramatic and real for people. of course we are conscious that we are talking to or about other people via a machine, but this quasi-human relationship with the computer as a helpmate, companion and antagonist seems to force us in a setting, where our feelings toward the computer as a machine become our feelings toward the people with whom we communicate.

and this is exactly the point holland tries to make. there is a huge gap between communicating in real life and our communication via a machine, in which we regress to our most basic, savage behaviour.

holland makes some more great points but i don't want to take away his gist, you definitely should read his article. nonetheless, don't take this as an excuse for being rude. thank you.


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