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Online Disinhibition Effect

I saw this when leading teams dedicated to combatting online fraud: people would say and do terrible things online that they could not plausibly say or do offline. I think that a bunch of problems in the online world are caused by people failing to recognise the humanity of other people online. Too many people think that such stuff is just a computer game, rather than something that has real effect on the lives of humans.

Online disinhibition effect is the lack of restraint one feels when communicating online in comparison to communicating in-person.[1] People feel safer saying things online which they would not say in real life because they have the ability to remain completely anonymous and invisible behind the computer screen.[2] Apart from anonymity, other factors such as asynchronous communicationempathy deficit, or individual personality and cultural factors also contribute to online disinhibition.[3][4] The manifestations of such an effect could be in both positive and negative directions. Thus online disinhibition could be classified as either benign disinhibition or toxic disinhibition.[1]

Online disinhibition effect

(Parkinson’s) Law of Triviality

I see this time and time again in many different environments: people comment on things that they know (at least) a little bit about, rather than things that are important. Thus, conversations are derailed to issues that lots of people know a little bit about, rather than on things that are important.

The law of triviality is C. Northcote Parkinson‘s 1957 argument that people within an organization commonly or typically give disproportionate weight to trivial issues.[1] Parkinson provides the example of a fictional committee whose job was to approve the plans for a nuclear power plant spending the majority of its time on discussions about relatively minor but easy-to-grasp issues, such as what materials to use for the staff bicycle shed, while neglecting the proposed design of the plant itself, which is far more important and a far more difficult and complex task.

Law of triviality