The Ad Hominem Effect Definition of Ad Hominem: Ad Hominem (Latin) means “against the man or person”. As the name suggests, it is a term that involves commenting on or against an opponent to undermine the person instead of his or her arguments. The Internet is suffering from a global epidemic of cruelty. You can’t go to website that features a comment section without seeing a continuous flow of insults each aimed directly at the writer. In situations where a person could simply disagree with a comment they usually tend to resort to name calling and Ad Hominem tactics to back up their own argument. It gets worse. Comment boards have become the home of bullying too. There are comments that read “You’re an idiot, go kill yourself” – “Go slit your wrist emo” – “Go get raped” and others that I won’t bother highlighting due to their graphic nature. To tell anyone to go kill themselves is just about the worst comment you can possibly post to another person short of actually threatening him or her. Is it in Our Nature to be Cruel? Do people act out aggressively online because they can hide their actions behind the mask of anonymity? The act of hiding your identity behind anonymity creates a scenario in which no one is held accountable for their actions and/or behavior. Imagine walking onto a subway train and everyone on the train is wearing a mask. You begin to communicate with these strangers. Some communicate back in a respectful manner while others, because they are wearing a mask, can respond to you in the meanest, most ignorant and insulting fashion imaginable. And you can’t seem to do anything about it. So what do you do? Do you stop riding the subway train completely or do you get back on knowing the same thing may happen again? The answer is simple to know but hard to do. There are no laws that prohibit people from hiding their identity online. There are no laws that prohibit people from making cruel, bullying remarks and comments online. Also, as awkward as it is to admit, there shouldn't be. Unless that comment is in the form of a direct threat, in which case it becomes a criminal matter. Otherwise, acting out online is not a criminal act in itself; it’s just a social injustice we have to deal with. Even though cyber bullying is cruel, with regard to comment boards, it can be dealt with, even if it means discontinuing visitation to the site where the cyber bullying is occurring. You are able to choose not to engage in those sites. Thankfully there are ways to report Ad Hominem types of behavior. There are ways to report to moderators and to flag (report) comments individually for moderation. Research is Key When you visit a site, before commenting on their boards, spend a few visits reading through their comment boards. Particularly the comment boards with high comment activity. Look at comment boards from a few days to a few weeks old. Check to see who the regulars are and who the worst regulars are! Check the forum’s rules on commenting. See if their rules are enforced or ignored. Email the moderators or staff members about your concerns. It’s not wrong to do so, it’s smart. Differences of Opinion Everyone has their own views and opinions. It is one of the things that I enjoy most about communicating with people; getting to know their views, passions, likes and dislikes. The Ad Hominem Effect does not apply to differences of opinion. I don’t have to like your opinion. However, if, because I don’t like your opinion I choose to attack you as a person, that’s wrong. That’s Ad Hominem. If you write a post and make a spelling error and someone chooses to ‘school’ you on it. That’s Ad Hominem. Otherwise they would ignore the spelling mistake and respond to your post. PSLS One of the things I like about PSLS is how involved the staff members are on the comment boards. It really helps keep the Ad Hominem effect down to a minimum. The other thing I like is that PSLS’s main focus is PlayStation and Sony related content. This completely dissolves fanboy related ignorance among gamers. It is one of the reasons I come here. Trolls Crave Attention: Don’t Feed the Trolls There are ignorant people everywhere. There is no escaping it unless you keep yourself locked away in a cell somewhere closed off to society. For those of us who don’t do that the simple answer is to try your best to ignore those who act out ignorantly online. It is the easiest solution yet the hardest to do sometimes! Remember, arguing is a two way street. Don’t go down that street! Arguing with a troll is like having a war of words with an unarmed combatant. Hey PSLS, how would you rate this site's comment boards and it's users - Friendly? Not so Friendly? And, what does PSLS think about the Ad Hominem Effect?