Our choices of social media shape our perceptions of events, issues, and people. Cultural memberships influence the content of digital and online communication. Social media have altered how we perceive time and space. People tend to feel anonymous online, even when they have a name associated with their avatar. On the internet, computer mediated conversations lack body language, voice intonation, and other important nonverbal elements. Without these features, people are compelled to fill in the gaps with assumptions about the nonverbal elements. Read the following paragraph (taken from http://archives.obsus.com/obs/english/books/editinc/can_talk.htm; bottom of web page) about a flame war. For some reason, people become much more sensitive when they’re online, and they tend to blow things entirely out of proportion—for example, taking a couple of sentences originally meant to be humorous or sarcastic entirely the wrong way. It’s even worse if you’ve had a bad day and you’ve decided that “no one likes you” (we’ve all had those moments); you’re much more susceptible to misunderstanding messages. Once that happens, everything can go downhill quickly. Instead of asking for clarification (“You were kidding, weren’t you?”) or just ignoring it, many people—forgetting that they’re dealing with another human being on the other end—decide to defend themselves and tell the originator of the offending message exactly what they think of him or her. This outcome is what’s known in the business as a flame. If both sides begin insulting each other, it’s called a flame war (kind of like fighting fire with fire). These digital battles often erupt in “public” and can sometimes be very entertaining to the lurkers.”
Describe a situation online where you witnessed trolling and flaming. What was the situation? How were the comments handled? Do you think this same situation would have happened in a face-to-face environment? Why or why not? How can situations like this be minimized? Please use the terms for your text about social media and nonverbal and guidelines for improving nonverbal communication found in Chapter 5 to respond to this question. Your paper should be a 2-3 page paper citing specific examples and providing detailed analysis incorporation reading and textbook material. If outside sources are used, proper citation of the source should be included.