Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Another Reason for Real Names on Badges?

At the risk of starting *ahem* a flame war, I would like to point to an article about what is formally being called "online disinhibition effect," which is how people are apt to say things with less restraint online than they would in person. (And my thanks to Cheryl for pointing me at it.) In short, people flame more often online than they do in person.

Now I personally think this is more common when the person doing the flaming is behind a pseudonym. (By which I mean that nobody reading what you write knows who you are in real life; this is not the same thing as someone who has an odd handle but puts his/her name in his profile -- the rough equivalent if printing someone's real name under their fan name on a membership badge.) I sign my own name to these posts, so just possibly I'm showing a bit more restraint.

I was particularly interested in this extract:
...In face-to-face interaction, the brain reads a continual cascade of emotional signs and social cues, instantaneously using them to guide our next move so that the encounter goes well. Much of this social guidance occurs in circuitry centered on the orbitofrontal cortex, a center for empathy. This cortex uses that social scan to help make sure that what we do next will keep the interaction on track.

Research by Jennifer Beer, a psychologist at the University of California, Davis, finds that this face-to-face guidance system inhibits impulses for actions that would upset the other person or otherwise throw the interaction off. Neurological patients with a damaged orbitofrontal cortex lose the ability to modulate the amygdala, a source of unruly impulses; like small children, they commit mortifying social gaffes like kissing a complete stranger, blithely unaware that they are doing anything untoward.
It occurs to me that there are a series of typically fannish behaviors that fall into this same description, characterized by an utter lack of ability to read emotional cues and emotional signs. Does this really mean that science fiction fans need to have their heads examined?
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