Daniel Henninger (Wall Street Journal): Wonder Land. At the risk of enabling, does the Internet mean that all the rest of us are being made unwitting participants in the personal and political life of, um, crazy people? As populist psychiatry, maybe this is a good thing; the Web allows large numbers of people to contribute to others’ therapy. It takes a village. But researchers note that the isolation of Web life results in many missed social cues. It is similar to the experience of riding an indoor roller coaster, what is known in that industry as a “dark ride.” This dark ride could be a very long one.
There is, without question, a tendency in some circles to shoot before aiming. This occurs in wider circles than the liberal ones Henninger cites (as if — laughing out loud — there are no right-wing bloggers who spew sheer garbage).
He’s also not up to date on the research. The so-called isolation of Web life is clearly not the case for most of us. We use it to make our physical-world lives better, including socially.
The nastiness or nuttiness of some bloggers is real enough, however. And people do say things online that they’d never say in person. But I suspect some of this stems from our increasingly nasty and politically insane culture as much as any major release from restraints.
In fact, I might offer the same advice to Henninger that I’d offer to someone who utterly loathed the screeds passing for editorials — sometimes fact-challenged as well as tendentious — that run on the same page where his column appears. That is: If you don’t like it, don’t read it.