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The Internet: where nearly everyone is just one fedora tip away from dishing out their own spin on trash-talk.

We’ve all seen the Navy Seal copypasta (warning: NSFW), and we’ve all been on the receiving end of a rather hateful private message. Neither one feels good, and what also doesn’t feel good is that sudden rage we get when becoming a verbal offender. It’s like a descending slope on a graph — you start out with a rambunctious attitude and then end with slightly-drained comments towards your online foe. Is there an accomplishment? Perhaps, if you consider your initial goal. But the failure at being a civil human being seems to be far greater.

Regardless of your side of the fight, it’s ugly. Here at MakeUseOf, we simply don’t like it when things get that nasty on the Internet, and we want to do what we can to help you prevent it, dudes. So bear with us for a minute, and check out our five tips for calming down on the Internet.

There Are Real, Live People On The Other Side


Let’s say you’re walking down a city street, listening in on the conversation between two people in front of you, and you find one member of the party to be rather disagreeable concerning the discussion. Would you jump on his back, scream in his face a slew of profanities, and argue (whilst clawing his eyes out) as to why your opinion on the matter is the correct one?

Perhaps not.


While this is a wild and unrealistic analogy, take it into consideration each and every time you decide to take on the world via the World Wide Web. There is a real life human on the opposite side of every well-written (or not-so-well-written) opinion, and what comes with this are real life human feelings and emotions. Just realize what you’re dealing with. That’s all.

You Aren’t As Clever As You Think


Occasionally, in the heat of an argument, various individuals (including certain writers of internationally-acclaimed tech blogs) will think of awesome one-liners to deliver in the midst of an argument that are most definitely on par with the catch phrases of all the best 1980s action heroes.Except they aren’t that awesome, they aren’t exactly on par, and if anyone ever used those catch phrases in real life, they would probably die a horrible and painful ironic death.

In short, by attempting to sound funny in the middle of an online argument, a lot of the time (if not most) many users end up sounding pretty stupid. That’s harsh, but it’s a fact. Imagine a sugared-up kid on the playground poking fun at an adult for wearing glasses — that’s what it typically looks like.

Maybe a better analogy would be Kim Jung-Il if he was a stand-up comedian? I don’t know. (Yes, that is a link to an article about North Korea. MakeUseOf officially has everything.)

Ignorance Is Sometimes Just Ignorance


My father always told me that ignorance wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Personally, I’m rather ignorant of nuclear physics. I don’t know jack-squat about it. Unfortunately, as it is with most of the Internet, netizens tend to comment on articles and subjects that they know literally nothing about. Maybe they saw a 30 second news package on it somewhere. Maybe they read a headline… and only the headline.

The point: this generation, that has access to literally all of the world’s existing knowledge, is pretty ignorant sometimes. Maybe we’re not taking advantage of the resources provided for us. Maybe we do take advantage of the resources provided for us, but we don’t do so at the proper time (Reddit’s r/funny, anyone?)

With that said, if you feel as though you are talking to someone who is seemingly legitimately ignorant about the subject at hand, take it into consideration. Correct, argue, protest — whatever. Just be civil about it. There’s certainly a way to politely state your opinion 6 Things The Internet Has Taught Me About Etiquette [Opinion] 6 Things The Internet Has Taught Me About Etiquette [Opinion] Over the years, I've learned that the Internet has its own sets of rules and etiquette much like any other culture. Granted, I have also learned something else about the Internet – it's very cynical... Read More without falling victim to verbal diarrhea.

Are You Being The Best Version Of Yourself?


Everyone wears masks depending on the situation that they very well may be in. You may be one type of person with your family, one type of person among your coworkers, and one type of person when you are alone. In all situations, your morals and beliefs may still remain the same, but the way you carry yourself in each mask may be different. Consider each of these masks to be a different “version” of yourself — much like an OS or an app.

That said, there are always going to be poor or buggy versions of even the best OS or app. Before you decide to pounce on someone who carries a different viewpoint than yourself, just make sure you are being the best version of yourself (or one that is suitable for carrying on conversation with complete strangers). Would the people you see in other aspects of your life be proud? Just think about it.

Everyone — Is Fighting Their Own Battle


It’s over-done and over-said, and I would even go as far to call it a cliché, but the old phrase, “everyone is fighting their own battle” still stands true. On the Internet, it stands even truer.

So often individuals take to the Web to let off some steam in the form of some argument or another, and unfortunately, they often come across as hateful or rude. Perhaps they are arguing about a subject that personally stings, or maybe they just decided to pick a fight with a weak opposition. Who knows? That said, if you feel the need to fire back, consider the possibility that they are either intimately, deeply affected about the issue… or maybe they are just trolling.

In any event, sometimes the argument is just better left alone. On the other hand, you may want to subscribe to Justin Pot’s political take on viewpoints. 3 Signs Your Political Viewpoints Are Completely Accurate [Opinion] 3 Signs Your Political Viewpoints Are Completely Accurate [Opinion] It's the holidays, and that means meeting with friends and family – and politics might come up. Are you wondering if your political viewpoints are correct? Read More

What other methods do you have for remaining civil on the Internet? Have you ever got in an Internet fight that you soon regretted?

Image Credits: the rik pics, Craig BushThwaites Empire Theatre, Burns Library BostonJohn Lambert Pearson, enviied

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  1. Ralph
    April 26, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    I don't normally respond to articles, but I just wanted to say thank you for a well written and thought out solution to an ongoing issue since as far back as I can remember (Quantum Link days and not the show).

    For me I all too often read an article that interests me and then the followup comments geet so far off base that I forget the point of the article. I get it that my opinions can be radically different than others, but for some reason some folks feel they need to resort to name calling, personal attacks on character, yikes and even ethnic slurs, nationality put downs, the list is almost endless.

    I remember growing up the rule was count to ten before responding.

  2. Denise E
    April 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Sometimes it can also be best to not comment at all! (although I am hoping, and think that this comment I am making should be benign in nature and not insulting anyone.. but there are all sorts of people)

    Anyway! My own knee-jerk responses usually turned into a whole conversation of knee-jerk responses, which meant that both sides were angry and increasingly defensive/offensive. So I have to remind myself that the whole world (or internet audience) does not always need to hear my opinion.

    Another tip would be to just not read the comments at all, but somehow I just like annoying myself and sometimes witness some really horrible things that people can say without thinking first. So maybe I should really start taking my own advice.

  3. Joel L
    April 14, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    "You Aren’t As Clever As You Think" is something EVERYONE needs to internalize, myself included. Nice list! Very relevant.

    All I know is, never tell someone to calm down. It's the fastest way to escalate any argument.

  4. ahorn
    April 14, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    It's taken me 20 years to become a netizen who doesn't feel the need to right every wrong I find on the interwebz.

  5. dragonmouth
    April 12, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    The flip side of the story is how people perceive comments. Because of vagaries of language and of human psyche, a word can be (mis)interpreted in many ways. An innocent comment by a speaker can be perceived as offensive by a listener with an agenda, bias and/or emotional problems. Cultural differences also play a part. What is acceptable in one culture can be vulgar or offensive in another. Since we are not as cosmopolitan as we would like to think, we need to consider the source of a objectionable comment and give the indivdual the benefit of the doubt.

    But then, sometimes offensive comments are just that, offensive comments.

    • Saikat B
      April 14, 2014 at 5:58 am

      Well put. I think the right way is to develop a habit of not "reacting immediately". Take a step back...give it a few minutes, and then formulate a reply. Works in real life too. But ah, it is so difficult to implement because we are habituated to knee-jerk responses.