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Ranting on Websites May Just Make You Angrier
Date:3/22/2013

age was about 19. After completing a screening test designed to gauge their happiness, sadness, anger and fear levels, they viewed a home page of a rant site and were asked to read through the rants for five minutes.

Next, they spent five minutes writing their own anonymous rant, and retook the same screening test they took before going to the rant site.

Some experts expressed caution in interpreting the study results. Andrea Weckerle, president of CiviliNation, a nonprofit organization working to reduce online hostility and adult cyberbullying, said that the small number of participants in both studies means the study should serve only as a talking point to stimulate discussion about the issue of Internet ranting. She added that using only college students in the second study limited how much their reactions could be applied to others.

But Weckerle said the problem is real. "Online hostility is a public health crisis. Lives are destroyed through aggression online," she noted.

While some people feel justified in ruthlessly expressing anger because they think the Internet is a separate world, Weckerle said they are wrong. "This is not a different environment. This is real life."

More information

Learn more about civility on the Internet from stopcyberbullying.org.

SOURCES: Ryan Martin, Ph.D., associate professor, human development and psychology, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay; Andrea Weckerle, J.D., M.A., founder and president, CiviliNation, Minneapolis; February 2013, Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, online


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