Well, this might be a bit weird but.. I am going conducting a 15~20minute presentation on this topic on Friday in front of a few co-workers for a Business Presentation Skills training workshop (lol, fitting isn’t it?).
So seeing that my meet & greet with this IT manager has been rescheduled again (for like the 5th time..) and that I’m waiting for the next meeting later this afternoon in order to continue this Business Requirements Document, I decided to try work on my presentation since it’ll supposedly take at least 6 hours to prepare this..
However I’m stuck on a blank.. my ideas are down on paper at home, but I know they’re still around in my head somewhere.. So I’m going to write out what I’m going to be (sort of) presenting..
How fun; so without further ado I present to you, Keyboard Warriors and Online Ragers; The virtual alter-ego.
Ladies and gentlemen, for the next couple of minutes I would like to shed some light on what I feel is an emerging issue in the Internet world of today; an issue that if continued to be ignored, could potentially cause problems outside of our lovely Cyberspace.
The Internet; am I correct to assume everyone here knows what it is and have access to it at home, school, and/or work?
Just very quickly, did you know that the Internet was originally designed in part to provide a communications network that would still continue to function even if some of the sites were destroyed by nuclear attacks? Think about how far the Internet has come – from military purposes to commercial and everyday use.
OK so, when I mention the phrase “Threats in regards to the Internet” or “Issues related to the Internet” what do you automatically think of?
Viruses? Trojans? Hackers? Stalkers? Fake identities? Identify theft?
Well, I’m not here to talk about any of them, because you know about these issues already; most people do. However, there seems to be an emerging social issue within our Cyberspace.
I’m quite confident that everyone here knows what it means to be angry, having said that I would like to derive from that emotion, rage. Rage (noun) has been defined as a fit of violent anger, but it’s also defined as a verb – to act or speak with fury.
Combine Internet with Rage and do you see where I am getting at?
So the issue I am bringing forward today is what I would like to call Keyboard Warriors and Online Ragers.
Upon defining what these terms mean along with certain jargons, I would like to bring forth the mediums that are often involved when it comes to this social issue as well as examples, possible implications, and also some tips in regards to handling this issue.
We already know what common terms such as Internet and Rage mean. But combining them together, we can derive many jargons commonly used among the online populations nowadays.
By adding a letter to the end of Rage, we get the central focus of this presentation – a Rager.
The younger generation whom spend a majority of their lives within Cyberspace tend to label a person who is venting their anger irrationally online a rager. This comes in perhaps the two most common forms – text and more recently, through the microphone.
So imagine a bad tempered person in real life spewing a string of irrational and abusive sentences, face flushed red, and looking as if he/she will explode any minute. Now take away the visuals and keep just the audio, or perhaps convert the whole thing into text – what do you imagine?
If you’re still having a hard time, think about these two sentences:
What are you doing?
WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
Which one seems to present itself with more emotion? To illustrate this ask yourself, how would a rager would be expressing anger online? It could be along the lines of using such formatting (since capitals have taken a universal understanding to represent “shouting”).
So from these ragers within the texted based nature of the Internet world, we are able to derive another label used for such users – “Keyboard Warriors”. This term is usually used to describe a user who tends to use abusive/aggressive language (in text form) online towards another user. They are labelled a Keyboard Warrior because their keyboard is considered their greatest weapon – i.e. deemed as users who lack the physical (“real”) courage to express their abuse towards another user face to face.
Sometimes the action of raging online is defined as “Nerd Raging”, this is usually used to describe a user’s action – countering their abuse by labelling them as a “Nerd”.
Among these people, you might also come across what users would call a “Griefer” – these users are usually the result of raging or trying to find an alternative to raging. A Griefer usually performs certain actions (depending on the medium) or says certain things to make the online experience sour for other users.
What’s important is that, a Rager, Keyboard Warrior, or Griefer could be anyone, could be your siblings, your son/daughter, your friends, or perhaps even YOU.
But what is perhaps just as shocking, if not more, is where these users tend to appear – the mediums that help bring out the hidden alter-ego behind these users.
As I mentioned earlier, although the Internet has been around for a long time, the nature of this issue and these users are fairly new respectively.
But this makes you wonder, perhaps the generation of today have problems expressing themselves in person and so they turn to the Internet as a medium to vent their emotions. This is not surprising. why? Because naturally, the Internet provides a powerful security – keeping your identity anonymous. The problem extends further due to the evolution of technology, as the capabilities of technology improve, the Internet starts to offer users more and more.
Chat rooms.. social forums.. weblogs.. social networks.. online gaming.
All of these popular mediums are subjected to Internet rage.
Take a look at the following examples:
This is a common example of Internet rage through a microphone – embarrassing? I want you all to note two things:
1. His irrational arguments.
2. The person who uploaded this video did it to make fun of him, note the introduction and ending.
However, this happens daily, so much that people tend to just laugh it off, and I’ll admit, from this end of things, it is funny. But what about this one?
Just let me set the scene for you, this is an Intel Extreme Masters competition, where “professional” gamers get together to compete in certain games and win prizes. Most of these players/teams are sponsored by companies. Gaming itself has become so large that you’re able to be sponsored now. So how does something like this reflect the sponsor? How does it reflect the player when they get up and walk off?
You watch it once, you laugh and think “Wow..” then you watch it a few times and you think.. “That’s someone’s son.. that’s someone’s friend..” and it makes you think doesn’t it?
So try to remember how these clips made you feel when you watched them, did they catch you by surprise? Hold onto these feelings as I move onto my next point, the implications of such online behaviour.
If you saw a child flipping out in a shopping centre or public, what immediate thoughts would you have? How annoying they are? The parents and their parenting?
It’s just human nature for us to think about these things when we see something incredible or out of the ordinary.
But let’s try to keep in mind we’re also hiding behind this secure barrier or anonymity as we witness and experience these bursts of Internet rage. How does it make you feel now? Would you be more willing to express how you feel knowing that they don’t know who you are or what you look like?
Let’s think for a moment. What implications do their behaviours have?
First and foremost, their image, as mentioned, most people online tend to have a laugh, these videos also become viral. The user becomes “famous” for something they’re not necessarily proud of. In this day and age, it’s almost as shameful as committing a crime, but we shouldn’t be too surprised, after all it’s a social joke.
But after laughing, wiping away the tears, or perhaps even shaking our heads, we should stop and think a bit more – how does this reflect the parents, especially if they’re still young. Do you think the parents would know? Here is the scary part of this issue – most don’t. The generation gap sometimes becomes too great for us to handle and we inevitably turn a blind eye.
Another possibility is that you actually physically know this user. Imagine this, you’re so excited you’re finally able to play this online game with your best friend of 10 years, but then you realise suddenly as soon as the situation starts to go sour, he/she starts blasting abusive language and profanity through your speakers – it’s an alter ego you’ve never seen before, a sleeping beast. How would you feel? Does it feel like you suddenly don’t know them?
In extreme cases, the threats could become physical, or perhaps even cause real emotional pain for the victims.
Perhaps one of the scariest thoughts is that within a few seconds you’ll feel like you suddenly don’t know who your friend, child, or even your parents are anymore. Internet issues often create big stirs when the media is involved, new viruses, hoaxes, stalkers and so on. That’s why it’s important to start shedding light on this overlooked emerging issue.
But don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world yet.
As we pretty much all use the Internet in our day to day lives, we’ll inevitably all come to witness this Internet issue, or perhaps even become part of it. But not to worry, although dealing with these users may not be as easy as dealing with angry people in real life, rest assured at least they won’t sock you in the face.
There’s a few things I personally like to do when I’m faced with a Rager/Keyboard Warrior/Griefer, the first golden rule is to remain calm.
My mother always use to tell my brother and I that during an argument, the first person to get flustered and lose his/her temper loses. So I always try to remain calm.
Having said that, by any means, do NOT fuel the fire. If the person needs to vent, let him/her vent, if no one is replying, he/she will have to stop eventually, because we all look stupid talking to a wall.
Next, nothing is personal, nothing the person is saying to you is personal (how can it be if they don’t even know you? And if they did, perhaps you might want to consider your relations with them), thus nothing you say back should be personal.
If all fails, just remember, at least you’re safe behind the barrier this Internet provides. The worst possible case is to simply walk away – not necessarily physically, but you have to ask yourself if they’re worth your time.
But we all need to be aware that this could happen to anyone, and you’d be surprised.
Personally I’ve found that if I actually know the person, sitting down and talking it over with them really helps.
But a lot of this just requires experience.
Without a doubt the world as we know it is constantly changing. A few years ago, this wouldn’t have been such an issue. But we can only make the best of our situations.
So I hope that today I’ve been able to bring forward this issue and shed some light on it.
Just remember, the Internet as it is today.. is “serious business”, perhaps you have a sleeping virtual alter ego, ready to pounce at someone on the Internet. But let’s hope not!
So a big THANK YOU for reading this all. This is probably my longest post yet. At least my most constructive!