If you had to guess what the most pervasive emotion on the Internet was, what would you say? Happiness? Sadness? Anger? Empathy? If you said "anger," you've clearly been online once or twice in your life. A new study has found that one of nastiest, most toxic emotions of all -- anger -- is more powerful than other feelings online. Anger is, quite literally, viral.
While I'm not surprised (read: at all) that this is the case, it's a little unsettling, seeing this in writing. Clearly, anger is becoming one of the more popular emotions offline, too. I mean, is it just me, or does everyone seemed pissed lately?
Anger, more so than other emotions, makes people act rash. And what's a better place to act rash than the Internet? There, in a lot of ways, are no repercussions online. You can call someone every horrible name you can think of, then simply close your laptop without ever hearing a retort or without living in fear that you're going to get your ass kicked. Because online, you can be anonymous. Online, you can be a 250-pound, 7-foot dude, whose ass is getting kicked by no one.
But here's the problem. There are other repercussions. Repercussions that we're only imposing on ourselves as we act "angrily" online. We become angry IRL. Or maybe we're angry IRL to begin with? I'm not sure, but the Internet can't be helping.
Think about it. Anger doesn't just dissipate; that's not how it works. You may be "finished" feuding with someone on the Internet, done with your Twitter war, but you still have the feeling when it's over. You're still angry. Because angry doesn't go away whenever you feel like it. Angry stays with you long after you've logged off.
I certainly don't think the Internet should be all sunshine and roses all the time, because let's get real, that's not how the real world is. But maybe if people stopped being, well, such dicks online all the time, they'd be a little happier when they log off.
Maybe not. But maybe.
Do you encounter a lot of angry people online?