why do internet fights hurt me so?

by Hugh

Just had a recent spate of flamey acrimony on LibriVox (which is usually an oasis of kind and pleasant discussion). It’s amazing how draining these things are for people. I didn’t get too worked up personally, tho I spent too much time trying to convince people to stop being so … imflamatory. And I did lose my cool at one point and violated my How to Deal with Difficult People tract.

But: I wonder why it is that the Internet flame war/acrimonious debate is *such* an emotionally intense experience. I certainly never in my daily life get involved in such stuff, I can’t remember the last argument I had with someone in real life. But on occasion I’ve been in some pretty tense internet stuff. I understand why they happen (the missing subtext, humour missed, inference of mean-spiritedness, when often humour was the intent etc).

But it’s curious that they are so …well…enraging.

Often when you think/look back at them, you ask yourself, why was I so riled up about *that* discussion? What was it about that sentence that made steam come out of my ears? Or at least I do.

And when your involved in these things, you craft these long-winded, debate-ending, brilliant pieces of unanswerable prose. And then wait panting for the response! And the whole thing starts over again. I’m ususally pretty reasonable in my approach to these things – I rarely lose my temper – but still, they are really emotionally draining.

What is it about text, and especially internet/forum mediated text, that makes the hot debate so so so emotionally intense?