[by Holly Capote]

Consider these readers’ responses to an article about writer/director Nora Ephron in a recent profile posted at Salon:

“Christ, that article just wasted five minutes of my life I will never get back.”

“This woman is a complete asshole and a terrible director. She should be forced to watch ‘Bewitched’ on a permanent loop for trying to force that piece of shit on the public.”

“Nora Ephrom sucks. Her movies are horrible monuments to cutesy-poohism and are made for 5 yr olds. And I agree with the other guy who suggests she should be made to watch her own crap on a feedback loop. (Or something like that.) Anyone retarded enough to marry that Watergate news-hack asshole deserved heartburn.
I also don’t care about spoiled rich white women who are pissy because they are aging. Fuck that shit, at least they can afford the freakin’ wrinkle creme!
And she’s ugly too!”

“She should kill herself.”

So, why the cyber-verbal violence?

Some estimate that 70% of all our communication is nonverbal. This explains why there’s rarely sidewalk rage, even when one pedestrian tailgates another on Main Street’s sidewalk. Up close, we can see when we perturb another. But when we’re car lengths away, we miss the subtle signals that our behavior agitates another. Plus, we’re wrapped in steel, which steels us. Wearing an exoskeleton, we might not be brave, but with Ford-borrowed bravado, we can bug.

So it goes with the Internet. People will post things that they’d never dare say in person.

Regarding cyber-violence, there are certain patterns. If we’re attacking a woman, we’ll frequently attack her face. She won’t be sufficiently feminine…or she’ll be excessively feminine…or, in Nora’s case, she’ll be old. If it’s a guy, we’ll attack his hypocrisy, as if we’re not all hypocrites and attacking hypocrisy doesn’t punctuate our hypocrisy.

It’s often cyber-ugly because it’s easy to be ugly on the Internet. With monikers, we’re monstrously anonymous.

But there’s something about the Blend that makes it a more civil place. I’m not saying that we don’t succumb to hypocrisy, cattiness, and bluster, but there’s less here than in most other places where politics are discussed.

So, why? Why isn’t it as ugly here as it is yonder?