Communication via the Internet can mislead the brain’s social systems. The key mechanisms are in the prefrontal cortex; these circuits instantaneously monitor ourselves and the other person during a live interaction, and automatically guide our responses so they are appropriate and smooth. A key mechanism for this involves circuits that ordinarily inhibit impulses for actions that would be rude or simply inappropriate — or outright dangerous.
I’m OK with criticism, I’m fine with disagreement, I’m perfectly capable of handling angry mail. That’s not the issue here. I’ve even accepted personal attacks as part of the job. I’m a columnist; the heat comes with the kitchen. But what’s really stunning is how hostile *ordinary* people are to each other online these days.
Read the New York Times David Pogue on the issue of online etiquette