Tag Archives: results

Real stats about online harassment

We all know that statistics can be twisted to prove just about anything, so the first thing I do when I stumble across any research is to check its provenance [as much as possible]. In this case, the stats relating to online harassment come from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. They claim that they take “…no positions on policy issues related to the internet”. I’m not sure I’d accept that statement at face value from any organisation, but in this instance, I can’t see the point of any bias.

In terms of accuracy, I’d be more inclined to question the survey technique itself as it relies on ‘self assessment’ rather than some kind of objective observation. Nonetheless, with a large enough sample size, statistical trends about what we think we feel/know/experience tend to be more accurate.

Gah, enough caveats; on to the data itself. You can find the full report on the Pew Research Centre website :

http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/10/22/online-harassment/

For me, the points that made little bells go off in my head were these :

“Fully 92% of internet users agreed that the online environment allows people to be more critical of one another, compared with their offline experiences. But a substantial majority, 68%, also agreed that online environments allow them to be more supportive of one another. Some 63% thought online environments allow for more anonymity than in their offline lives.”

The researchers do not connect the dots, but I find it hard not to do so. Anonymity is the digital equivalent of wearing a mask, or a balaclava; it allows us to indulge the parts of ourselves we usually hide.

In the real world, we have to be diplomatic in order to get on with others in our families, friendship groups, work groups etc. Online, however, anonymity allows us to vent the thoughts and feelings we usually censor. Why? Because we can get away with it.

By the same token, people who do not hide behind anonymous identities online may feel the need to be ‘nicer’ than they might be in real life. Why? Because their online reputation filters back to real life, and no one wants to be seen as ‘nasty’ or ‘selfish’.

[Does that mean I’m nastier in real life than online? Gawd, I hope not, but I probably wouldn’t admit to it even if it were true…]

Whether your views on human nature are as cynical as mine, one thing does stand out from the data – there is an awful lot of nastiness going on. Have a look at this graph:

anonymity stats 2

 

Now I don’t want to flog a dead horse, but the scale of the problems caused by anonymity really is huge. And we have to do something about it.

Given how inventive we humans can be, I hope that we can bring civilisation to the internet whilst still protecting those who genuinely do need to remain anonymous, but long term, our behaviour must have consequences or we’ll destroy the very thing that makes the internet so wonderful.

My thanks to the Passive Guy for spreading the word about this research.

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 

 

 


Stop Press! And the winner is…

Thanks to timezone differences – and the fact I was out shopping – I just learned that I WON THE FLASH FICTION contest! But no Melbourne Cup photo finish was closer than this one.

JD Mader and I were literally neck and neck with the exact same number of votes. It should have been a draw. 😦

The reason it wasn’t a draw was because I got my entry in before JD. You see each flash fiction winner not only has the adrenaline rush of winning the contest, their winning entry also becomes part of the 52 stories that are published at the end of the year by Indies Unlimited. Hence only one winner can be chosen.

The way Indies Unlimited decided to break the deadlock of a draw was to award the win to whoever posted their story first. And as luck would have it, the first entry was mine. You can read all about it here.

But in terms of quality of writing, JD Mader did not lose, and I will always consider this contest a dead heat.

Congratulations JD. You’ve been one of my favourite indie authors for a long time now, and I’m honoured to share the glory with you. 🙂

And now, before I go away to do a happy dance across the kitchen floor, I’d like to say thank you Indies Unlimited for hosting the contest, and to every single person who voted for my story. This is literally my first ever win, and I owe it all to you guys. -MASSIVE HUGS-

-dance dance-

Meeks


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