Identity and Civility on the Internet (7.1)

By Heather Harlow – West Virginia University

Text-based Description of Visuals

Do you feel like internet interactions are nastier than offline interactions? That’s because they are. We are less empathetic online, and more likely to view others as having less empathy. Our friends and family make comments on Facebook posts that they would not broach in face-to-face interactions. At least, it seems that way. Personally, I’m much more likely to question someone’s intent online: Are they joking, using sarcasm or angry?

As a result of this lack of empathy, many of us hide parts of ourselves on the internet. I know I do.

So, why is it so difficult for us to communicate online? In this video, I explore the ideas of Douglas Rushkoff, media theorist and author of the book, Program or Be Programmed.

Rushkoff believes there is a cure for incivility online. The solution, according to Rushkoff, is to drop the veil of anonymity and be ourselves.

So, what do you think? Is it better to be yourself online or do you feel safer being at least partially anonymous?

Response 1: Glen Southergill
Response 2: Kristi McDuffie
Student Reflection: Heather Harlow (TBD)
Instructor Reflection: John Jones (TBD)

Course Assignment & Project Timeline