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Mike Colera

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Why is there so much vitriol expressed by TED contributors in conversations on contentious subjects?

I have been a contributor to many conversations. I am opinionated,and I freely express those opinions. I even try to add some facts to support my opinions. Or, at least some logical rational.
BUT,
Why are so many comments laced with words and phrases like "Stupid, Idiot, unschooled, bible thumping redneck, and many I won't repeat here. Some rise to the level of threat to do bodily harm and death wishes. I know there are subjects that raise passion. I know that in a rage, words are typed. OK! However, there is a delete key and an opportunity to read your words before you hit submit. Been there, done that.
Still, these words and phrases continue to show up. I don't know why.
It's rude, uncivilized and worse, name calling has never strengthen an argument.
Can anyone explain why this happens and why it should be accepted?

PS. I know there is a process where we can ask the TED system to review and delete improper comments, I haven't done that because no one else seems disturbed. Am I wrong to question such comments?

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Closing Statement from Mike Colera

I came to a conclusion yesterday as I thought about all that had transpired in this conversation. I expressed my appreciation to all the participants. As I give it more thought, many comments were similar to my conclusions that vile name calling was an uncalled for comment. A few suggested that when ... you play with fiery topics, you get burned. I understand great passion and excitement but I was not comfortable with those comments.
Thanks to all participants again.

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  • Jun 9 2013: To add to previous comments, part of the understanding of how we communicate is not just the reading and editing of what we might say, but also in how we receive the information that is projected towards us.

    I will say, that this forum is probably the most civil I have been involved with and I prefer it due to that. On the other hand, you have a group of people who are passionate about their cause and are willing to write about it. Otherwise, they simply would not spend time here. And frankly, we need more fired up passionate people in this world to get things done. Passionate people also get fired up and don't necessarily "check" themselves when writing. Myself included.

    So, part of our responsibility is to check ourselves when reading the comments. I learned this a long time ago. We should assume that the writer of the comments meant things in a positive light, not an attack on you personally. Or that they addressed the content not you. If we look at writing in this light, not as a personal attack, then the understanding of how the discussion progresses is different.
    • Jun 9 2013: Everett,
      you hit the nail on the head with taking responsibility. We're all adults, here, for pete's sake. Like you say, it could be that "they addressed the content not you", but when we are indeed passionate about a belief, then that's the same thing.
      It's about taking responsibility, acting like grown-ups, and reminding ourselves that we don't have voices and gestures and facial expressions to accompany what's being said.
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      Jun 9 2013: Everett and Lizanne,
      I agree that communication is a two way street, with both the writer and reader being involved in the end result. I also agree that with electronic communications, we are missing some valuable parts of communications.....tone, facial expressions, body language, etc. There are also many different styles of communication. I often read a comment several times before replying to make sure I can understand the writers intent as much as possible.

      Most of the TED community are indeed adults, and it is reasonable to anticipate seeing respectful comments:>)
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        Jun 10 2013: Hi Everett, Lizanne and Colleen,

        I agree with all of you - it's ideas, arguments and contributions that are adressed here, not the author personally but due to the fact that this is not personal, face-to-face communication some comments or replies can be misunderstood - we do not have the gestures, facial expressions here, as you point out. Happened to me before :)

        On the other hand this may also be a good thing. In some situations, if a person is tired, not feeling well etc. the gestures and facial expressions can actually be misleading as well, can be mistaken for lack of interest, disagreement or not being passionate enough. Cultural differences cannot be underestimated as well as this is a global community - what is a friendly gesture in one part of the world can actually be interpreted as sign of agression elsewhere.

        What I'm trying to point out is that at times written communication can actually be more effective when it is discussion around the content that is important. In face-to-face contact people sometimes need much more time to express the content. Or can get socially awkward and their ability or courage to express it can be limited, that might happen when the focus is more on connecting with others, not concentrating on the issue, but still...

        However, I do agree that even while writing people tend to get fired up, even here and that's perfectly natural when they feel strongly about the issue. Some people scream, some get involved in heated discussions, some just type fast and firmly and click 'submit' before revising or checking themselves. The difference in this forum is that you can edit and delete, these options are not available when speaking or at other fora and not everybody likes to ask the quite common question "What did you mean?" Some just shake their head and walk away.

        And yes, Everett, we're lucky that there are so many people who are passionate about important issues, the world would be far worse off without them.
        • Jun 10 2013: Indeed, Anna, I get what you're saying.
          Our emotions can also sometimes hinder or hide what we're actually trying to say. Our typed opinions, embellished with a smiley here and there, are to the point, also thanks to the anonymity. Face-to-face discussions can become confrontations, purely based on the look on someone's face.

          It's all about taking a moment before hitting that 'submit' button.
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    Jun 12 2013: I think this is the real world,TED community is no difference between the community we live in.How do you feel when you hear an abusive word on the street,or in a movie? You want to criticize them or ignore them?

    It's hard to too criticize someone without a strict or offensive word,when you do so,you give them an excuse to take advantage of their abusive talking habit.That's what I call mutual communication.As an old Chinese saying reads,be needing two palms to clap.

    Thus,I think the best way to respond to an abusive word,is to ignore it.A reasonable people would be ashamed if he/she talks in a way can not be contained,while other people talk in a civilized way.On the other hand,people utter venomous or offensive words are intending to be noticed,to be talked about,to provoke other's rage.When we let them be they will subside on their own.

    I believe most TED members are reasonable and polite.At least I haven't talk to someone who abuses his/her word.
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      Jun 13 2013: "Be needing two palms to clap". That is an interesting Chinese saying Jaden.

      There is a quote I also like regarding bad behavior in others.
      It says, "you can not control others, but you can always control yourself".

      In other words, like you said, we have the choice to ignore other's behaviors or words.
      Why add fuel to the fire?
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      Jun 20 2013: " I think this is the real world,TED community is no difference between the community we live in.How do you feel when you hear abusive word on the street,or in a movie? You want to criticize them or ignore them?"

      I think in real life, we tend to size up the person we want to criticize as to how much impact their fist might have on our body. Then we determine the degree of challenge. In this virtual reality, we don't have to consider such physical aspects.

      But we do have to consider the impact the mind can have on others who may agree with someone else, at our personal expense.
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    Jun 10 2013: Something to consider:
    The fact I can't find anything to good to say about you is irrelevant.

    The fact no one can find anything good to say about you is something worth considering.
  • Jun 8 2013: My experience over the years with this has been that people don't know how to have a civil discourse on issues.

    We have forgotten how to fight fair. Instead of seeking to understand content of the conversation, we attack the character. We don't address the issue we go after the person, why? Because that is what we have become accustomed too.

    More importantly, we have forgotten how to disconnect what we put out there as information from what we believe. When we put information out there, we are only providing others with information to work with. However, we become personally attached to it and add personal attributes such as "that is my idea" to it. When "our idea" comes under attack, we take it personally. Often, the conversations become very personal because the person takes it personally rather than realizing that our idea is under attack, not us.

    My personal experience is that people take too much possession of their idea and respond as though personally attacked thus escalating the conversation to more.
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    Jun 21 2013: Contention, anger, personal bias, hopes and dreams. These are some of the many human perplexities involved in sending a message from one to others.

    All, in all, it is the message that is important. The means of conveying that message is simply a tool, like a boat. The gulf of understanding that lies between people is like a river. You use the boat to cross the river, then you no longer need the boat anymore, unless, of course, you will cross it again.

    Some people are not content to get where they are going, or have no real destination in mind. It's all about the boat. They need to travel in style, utilizing a Yacht to cross a creek when a simple log or rowboat will suffice. They have no real message and they can be contentious when this is pointed out to them.

    Religious people, at least, have a message, be it real or not. The uneducated, have a message also, usually a message of complaint or a request to be included in the social media. What they are saying, or trying to say is the important issue the Educated should focus on, their message, not how they say it.

    They real benefit of an education is the ability to understand others and convey, their, needs in a non-contentious manner, or help them to understand the complexities of life when simple language will not suffice. The Educated have a duty to humanity to rectify the wrongs, explain the complex, and discover the paths that lead to progress. It is a duty, a responsibility that comes with the package. Unless, of course, they choose to be selfish, which is a valid, but unworthy choice.
  • Jun 20 2013: Some have not had the benefits of a classical education, and thus can't express themselves through language, thought, and the presentation of an idea or concept, and so revert to the lowest common denominator.

    They do that, because like you, everyone else is trying to make a point.

    What they have yet to figure out, and when you realize this, you realize there is no point in making a point, as it's all just a point of view. But a lot of people need to hold onto something, no matter how intangible or intractable that idea maybe. As to loose that, can for some mean loosing or relinquishing the one tenant they have lived by, no matter what the argument or alternative point of view presented nor how eloquently expressed, as it would implicitly imply they would be disavowing their own minds processes.
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      Jun 20 2013: Well said Tify,
      I think there is no point in being so totally attached to our own point of view that we become contentious when someone disagrees. It is not the subject that is contentious, but rather the way in which we discuss the subject.

      I believe that when a person identifies with a certain thought, feeling, idea or opinion as the one and only point of view, s/he sometimes has to "prove" that point of view one way or another, and that is when one may "revert to the lowest common denominator", as you insightfully say.

      You say....."...that, can for some mean loosing or relinquishing the one tenant they have lived by.... it would implicitly imply they would be disavowing their own minds processes."

      I agree, and this may cause a questioning........"what have I believed in"...."why have I believed as I do"....etc. etc.

      This questioning can be an opportunity to learn and grow.....or.....it can be reason for anger in oneself.
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      Jun 21 2013: People like that are not usually found on ted. They don't know how to type. There are, however, many people with a Classical Education that apparently wasted their time going to school. I've seen some of those around here.

      Collen made a very astute statement in a previous post, "...I think there is no point in being so totally attached to our own point of view that we become contentious when someone disagrees..."

      But, this is easily stated, rather then accomplished.

      Regardless of education, people are pretty much the same throughout society when we classify our base personalities. Those with a richer education, regardless wither they obtained it via some formal setting or over time with self-study, should have no excuse for arousing contention when they have the social tools and education to forestall it. They have no excuse for being mean at all. Yet, shrouded in the words of some, highly Literate personalities, we find the very same base, inexcusable, hints and innuendos. They are are so practiced at using these hate words/phrases, stated in a subtle manner, they fail to see the same characteristics they attribute to others within themselves.

      They tend to become very emotional in a virtual world such as we are in now. They can't use the venue of writing to put forth a message or idea without the use of emphasis tools like Capitalization, more than three dots --to name a couple of the elements of their fixation

      It demonstrates a physiological need to be understood. They are willing to slap aside anyone they consider a contender to their point of view. There is always a hint of belittlement in their words with catchy phrases like, "you don't understand", "you should actually read the link", and my favorite, "you obviously misunderstood what they really mean". And, most of these people are very classically educated.
      • Jun 21 2013: re: There is, however, many people with a Classical Education...

        Should be "There are, however, many people with a Classical Education..."

        Benefits of a Classical Education. ...lol :)


        Just couldn't resist the subtle humour of it,while adding some levity. I hope you can laugh at it too.
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          Jun 21 2013: Yes, my plural distinctions can get a tad Colloquialised when I'm talking to my (Deep South) mother-in-law and typing at the same time.

          By the way, if you "had" a classical education do you still "have" it? Logic, plurals and passivity can be a problem sometimes, can't they? :)

          People with a classical education need to work harder to prove they have one.
  • Jun 14 2013: Social Neuroscience states, that when we are confronted with the differences in opinion, the chemicals, that are released in the brain are the same ones that try to ensure our survival in dangerous situations. In this defensive state, the more primitive part of the brain interferes with rational thinking and limbic system can nock out most of our working memory, physically causing narrow-mindedness.
    Voila ! :)
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      Jun 14 2013: Sure, that's the science, but we are supposed to be rational beings and able to control our emotions when the threat is not an immediate danger to our physical well-being but just some #@&*$$# calling us names. Then we have to type a response in a little box that is barely legible, correct the numerous mistakes in spelling and then scroll down to hit submit. I think the worse of us can calm down and find a more civil way to respond. Just saying.
      • Jun 15 2013: Sure, we should and we'd better :)
        But i guess, there is a kind of ultimate solution, which is difficult to implement, but it solves a lot of problems before they even emerge :
        tame the Ego !
        It lessens the chances to insult and be insulted dramatically.

        Please, don't take me wrong, i am not one of those who managed ( not even close :) ), but i think it's the right direction to move.

        Thanks for responding !
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      Jun 14 2013: Interesting Natasha, and it makes sense!

      Mike's idea also makes sense....."we are supposed to be rational beings and able to control our emotions.........calm down and find a more civil way to respond...."

      Could it be that what you describe Natasha is more instinctive, and what Mike describes takes a little more awareness?

      I believe that as thinking, feeling intelligent humans, we are evolving beyond the basic instinctive responses, and we do indeed have the ability to be more aware of our actions/interactions/words/responses....etc.
      • Jun 15 2013: Colleen, it's the way science tries to explain it, not the way i try to justify rudeness.
        :)
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          Jun 15 2013: I don't perceive you trying to justify rudeness Natasha:>) I think many human behaviors involve instinct, intuition, logical, rational, reasoning, and probably a lot more than we even realize:>)
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    Jun 12 2013: "Can anyone explain why this happens and why it should be accepted?"

    I don't think it should be accepted, but I can tell you what others have said about it. On a popular cigarette package years ago, was this initialism: LSMFT. On the cigarette package it stood for Lucky Strikes Mean Find Tobacco. One writer said that it also stood for Low Self-Esteem Mean Friction and Trouble.

    In short, it's low self esteem, then, that brings out the worst in some.

    Here's another bit of wisdom: "We act or fail to act to enhance our own ego." When some feel that their ego, or self-worth, or self-image has been attacked, they attack back.
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      Jun 12 2013: I find your comment very insightful.

      A few minutes ago I was reading a reply to a comment I made in another conversation.
      The TEDster said, and I quote, "This post has nothing to do with the subject".
      When I first read it, I thought that he was referring to my post, and I felt a little bit hurt and insulted, because my post had alot to do with the matter at hand.

      However, when I read his comment again, I realized he was talking about his post, not mine.

      My comment had reminded him of something else, and he jumped in and shared the information.

      Sometimes, online, it is good to read, and reread what others write, and give people the benefit of the doubt.
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        Jun 13 2013: Good point Kate:>)

        Labeling, catagorizing people, and harsh words are often a clear sign of low self-worth and insecurity. People tell us a LOT about themselves with the labels they try to give us:>)
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        Jun 14 2013: Hi there Kate!!

        Long time no see. Hope you are well.
        Thanks for your comment Kate.

        You bring out some very good points, and I totally agree.

        A friend of mine always uses the illustration of a shoemaker when discussing conversations.
        He says, when you are reading information in online conversations, or in a group, remember:
        If the shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn't fit, don't worry about it, it's not your shoe.

        It's good not to overthink things. Stay lighthearted and enjoy the interchange of ideas and insights.
        Take what builds you up, discard the rest.....

        Paranoia can set in very quickly if you have low self esteem. It's best not to take what others say too seriously......I learned that from someone here on TED.

        Talk to you soon Kate.!
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    Jun 9 2013: Name calling? Vitriol? Among TEDsters? Where?

    I have actually seen very little of the above, or not enough to be disturbed. I'm either new or completely inexperienced here. Maybe I'm deluding myself. Or maybe I'm not a TEDster but a TEDdy... Or a combination.
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      Jun 9 2013: Whatever you would like to call yourself Anna, I'm glad you are here. I agree with you in that most people comment with kindness and respect:>)
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      Jun 10 2013: I had a boss once who told me that making the highest score on the companies test was an indication that you could create a better lie about why you were not giving your all to the job.

      Simple words like "stupid" will not often be found around the TED site but, you find their substitutes disguised in phrases like: "...if you would only read the research or view the video or listen to the audio, you would understand how wrong you are..."

      Because we are emotional creatures, this emotion wells up from time to time to a level not really intended. That's why we have an edit and delete button on the comments section.

      Some of us claim to use this facility and take time to think, but not always. Often, yes. Always, no.

      Sometimes if you don't like someone, you might find yourself opposing their view, even if the view is valid. That's just our nature. It creeps into almost every communications technology we create. Sometimes, people are more self-centered than they can notice themselves or really don't have a valid opinion on the subject and just want to be noticed. I try to notice everyone but not always the way they want it.

      I have found, if you stay with it, eventually you learn the rules of the game and become a better commentor. Practice makes perfect. With that in mind, those with the most experience should make some allowence for those with the least.

      Many commenters don't have a valid Email address in their profile. I use mine often and usually have more indepth conversations about a subject, than can be civilly accomplished in the public venue. Even when someone is adamantly in disagreement with me, they appear more calm and open to discussion in the Email.

      Sometimes (don't you love the word "sometimes"), I get Email responses from people I never get a comment from or see them comment in any discussion. People are shy... sometimes. :)
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        Jun 10 2013: I agree with you, all of that is true. We're not machines, we are emotional creatures that suffer from cognitive imperfections and dissonance. Some don't have opinions, just seek attention, some shy away from attention but have strong views - people are different and their awareness of themselves vary.

        However, especially here, I try to liberate myself from WHO is giving me the content and concentrate on the content itself. I'm saying this because of what you said about reacting to valid views negatively because of our opinion or feeling about the provider of the view.

        Example - do you remember the talk by Kid President - We all need a pep-talk? I typed my comment to this talk, then scrolled down and saw quite a different one saying, in brief, "what is THIS doing on TED?!" This quite firm, critical, even harsh comment was rated quite high by others which made be frown. I do not believe that the speaker cared much, that's not what I'm saying :) It's possible that the harsh commenters (whom I have nothing against) expected an expert an a subject and the comment in question was a consequence of their discontent or dissatisfaction, mine was just content-base (so wait the minute, what the kid is saying is this BUT this and that and so on...)

        When it comes to your boss - I've never heard anything similar, that's interesting. But what was the test?

        You can have a look at this talk, it's not completely unrelated since it's about communication and the word lie is mentioned - "Remi has never told a lie..."

        http://www.ted.com/talks/faith_jegede_what_i_ve_learned_from_my_autistic_brothers.html

        Yes, I like to word 'sometimes' too, I also prefer frequently and rarely to always or never. Always and never are promises... at least frequently, but not always - sometimes you can use 'always' :)
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          Jun 10 2013: I understand completely what you are saying Anna. There is some resonance in what you say with what I said.

          The boss thing relates to an actual event that happened in one of my Job interviews. It was an electronics firm in the early 80's and I got all the answers correct on the test.

          I was a bit full of myself and this annoyed the Tester who replied that bit of philosophy to me.

          It goes towards being too smart and how this can work against you. Intelligence can be applied in behaviors that are good, bad or in between. Sometimes in the business world they don't want someone who is too smart because they could be hard to handle or control.

          Sometimes when we think we are helping someone by giving them advice about the way they write a comment, it could appear condescending to them, even when we mean well. I have been guilty of this, many times.

          You can always use sometimes if that is what you mean or can't think of an appropriate word. :)
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          Jun 11 2013: You need to select your Account in the upper right-hand corner of the page.
          On the right hand side of the page that comes up will be two selections.
          Select the second choice.
          In the first section of the page, you will see the words 'subscribe' Set your choices there. I have all the 'subscribe' choices selected.
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          Jun 12 2013: That pretty well takes care of TED. I'd look into something to do with junk mail in your email client. I use Thunderbird and Firefox. What are you using?
  • Jun 8 2013: Mike
    I agree with a lot of folks here, that editing your emotions, especially when they're heated, is sort of censoring yourself.
    But at the end of the day, there is a fine line between a heated reply, and down-right abuse.
    If I feel irritation about a comment, I usually wait a day to let it sink before replying. That tends to help me get my thoughts sorted out before I even get the chance to insult anybody, (I hope!)
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    Jun 8 2013: If I personally ever have, I apologize! Yet I can not remember ever insulting someone on TED, partly because people on TED are usually a lot more friendly than the people in the "Youtube Comment" area. (In other words : "Reciprocity") The cause of this could be due to the "anonymity" and the "social identity" associated with Youtube which could encourage certain forms of (negative) behaviour, or it could even be caused by the lack of responsibility or deterrents (a Leviathan). It's worth mentioning that this is a pure hypothesis.
    While the best reason I could give a reason, it would be the amazing human ability to rationalize (or justify) our actions after we had committed them (and then distort our memory), or the human ability to find it difficult to admit we are wrong.
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        Jun 10 2013: Guess I have a bad memory then don't I?
        I personally can't remember calling you anything insulting, if I have please tell me where and when.
        Your comment is also slightly ironic if you don't mind me saying, considering you have insulted people (maybe unintentionally) in the past. However I am not here to debate this issue here.
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        Jun 10 2013: Oh okay.
        You are talking about the comment where I claimed you stating that you wanted to lock Colleen Steen in a room was unnecessary? That isn't offensive in anyway (towards you)! I didn't make any insult directed towards you.
        It was just simply stating the comment was unnecessary. I never called you " cruel", and "offensive" ". That is twisting my words. I said the comment was cruel and offensive (from my perception), which is different from saying you are "cruel" or "offensive".
        I have never insulted anybody directly on TED.
        So yes I do quite comfortably claim innocence, unless you can prove otherwise.
        Prove that I insulted you that is. Unless you copy and paste it, I shall claim innocence.
        " there will always be someone whose perception does not resonate with our own."
        That's true. :)
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          Jun 10 2013: Bernard,
          For what it is worth, you are one of the most respectful members of TED that I have interacted with for years, and considering you are also one of the youngest members.....KUDOS to you my friend:>)

          To clarify....I was the one who said Chris Kelly's threat to lock me in a room with Don Wesley felt cruel to ME. I wholeheartedly agree Bernard, that Chris's comment was unnecessary.
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          Jun 12 2013: Cris Kelly,
          You "missed the mark" , (as you insightfully write) on your original comment, and you "missed the mark" again on this comment.

          I did not go off topic, and in fact, was trying to keep DW on topic. If you recall the conversation, throughout his angry tirade of accusations, I kept telling DW that no matter what he writes, I have compassion and empathy for him. You then made a comment about "passive aggressive".

          As you state in a comment on this thread...
          "I think we should develop a softer attitude."

          You talk about it Chris, I practice it....walk the talk....and it might be helpful to leave your anger outside the door when you come into a new discussion:>)
  • Jun 8 2013: Why: Different human reactions to challenges about beliefs, validity of arguments, value of an opinion, or author's projected emotions.

    Should it be accepted?: I think abuse should not be tolerated, but censorship of opinion laced with emotion might take away from some responses. The moderator's opinion about what is abusive is probably the baseline.

    If you are disturbed by something you read, I think you should use whatever process is in place to call attention to it or similarly correct the problem. Your opinion counts. Inaction will only enable a problem to escalate.
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    Jun 8 2013: better to have an emotive and flawed response than a bureaucratic-style regurgitation of bookish terminology that says nothing. newspeak sux. get emotive and swear a little. then, at least, i'll know you care..
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      Jun 8 2013: That is the most poorly thought-out expression I have ever heard come from a supposedly human mind. Are you totally void of sensibility and real-world experience? Did your parents have all under-achieving children? . . . JUST KIDDING SCOTT. I was trying-out your philosophy. It feels harmful, unproductive, and contentious. I apologize.
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        Jun 8 2013: i take your point.

        despite the hysteria caused by the internet and the digital "revolution" that has allowed everyone the opportunity to pipe up, most opinions are not worth reading or listening to let alone responding to.

        i'm working at responding rather than reacting but those pesky emotions do have a way of pushing to the front of the line.

        that's one area where the robots have us beat. let's hope empathy and sympathy don't rely too heavily on being able to experience emotion..
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          Jun 10 2013: Scott, I know I can be so stupid at times so you should overlook me if you notice this aptitude, but, could you please rewrite or explain the last sentence?

          "...that's one area where the robots have us beat. let's hope empathy and sympathy don't rely too heavily on being able to experience emotion.."
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    Jun 21 2013: Hi collen Steen. I read the posted link to a differentiation of PA that you suggested. The very first explanation was "Passive-aggressive behavior is a general term used in many contexts." Does this imply that there may be more than one way to look at or define Passive Aggressive Behavior?

    I did focus on this explanation because it appears to match some personalities I've experienced on TED.

    "Passive-aggressive may also refer to a person who denies (in the sense of "refuses to acknowledge") his or her own aggression (in the sense of "agency"), and who manages that denial by projecting it. This type of person insists on seeing himself or herself as the blameless victim in all situations."

    Hey, We've seen a few of these right?

    :)
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      Jun 21 2013: Hi John Moonstroller:>)

      Exactly! "Passive-aggressive behavior is a general term used in many contexts."

      Yes, I agree....there is more than one way to look at, or define passive aggressive behavior.

      That is why I posted the link to the meaning, and that is why I made the statement...
      Colleen Steen
      Jun 13 2013:
      " Even the very best psychotherapist would not attempt to diagnose anyone based on comments made in an on-line forum. I don't know how or why these folks think they can label and diagnose."

      Yes John, you are right. We often see projection:>)
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    Jun 17 2013: There is a number of reasons I think, Culture, beliefs, educational status, personal experience, narcissism, delusions, even psychological and yes ego.

    TED is a place/forum/society if you like that wishes to be able to improve ( I shall not use change)the world/civillisation for the better, and there are a lot of people here who are capable of that.

    But then saying that you still have a forum that can be used anonymously and the more cowardly can hide behind.,

    Even the most perceived intellectually astute and supposedly civilised and aware of us are not free of basic prejudices and opinions.

    Some of us (myself included) do not tolerate fools easily and although someone may not be foolish the way they voice their opinion may make them look so and then it opens the doors for retribution.

    People generally react first and think after ( and then usually regret it)

    In the words of Monty Python

    "Pray that there's intelligent life somewhere out in space because there's bugger all down here on earth."

    No matter how smart or forward thinking we believe we have come we still have a long way to go
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      Jun 17 2013: Hi Morgan! Nice to see you again:>)

      We have participated together in a couple conversations which demonstrated the human behaviors you mention above!

      We all have the ability to change, and in my perception, it is a matter of choice. We can be as aware and informed as we choose to be regarding any topic. Some people have more communication skills, some people have more...or less... respect for each other....the possibilities go on and on............

      I agree that one of the main reasons for poor communications is that people often comment with a knee jerk reaction, rather than being clear with what they want to communicate. We need to be clear in ourselves before we can communicate clearly with others. I believe that is why we sometimes see people contradicting themselves, appearing to be foolish, and as you say, if there is a forum to anonymously hide behind, false profile (or several in some cases), sometimes people tend to not think before hitting "submit".

      I totally agree......we can all improve.....nice chatting with you again....hope things are good in your part of the world:>)
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    Jun 14 2013: Just writing to say this is the number one best profile photo. I love it!
    • Jun 14 2013: Agreed ! :)
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      Jun 14 2013: Thank You.
      It is what I should have looked like when I was a baby.
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        Jun 15 2013: I am sure this is how you truly looked....and if you came to believe differently....then that is because all those early mirrors and lenses reflecting your image were dusty and rusty.
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    Jun 13 2013: Hi Mike,
    This is a good topic, and we see some of the name calling and "vitriol" surfacing right here. I agree with you that name calling has never strengthened an argument. In fact, it usually gets the comment removed by the TED moderators, and/or puts an end to what otherwise could be an interesting conversation. A person's time and energy is kind of wasted with name calling and labeling.

    Another type of "name calling" that is used by some folks, when they do not agree with us, is to label people with personality disorders, mental challenges and/or behaviors. Even the very best psychotherapist would not attempt to diagnose anyone based on comments made in an on-line forum. I don't know how or why these folks think they can label and diagnose.

    The folks who are having a discussion about passive aggressive behavior on this thread have labeled some folks as having this behavior, when we do not agree with them. It very obviously weakens their arguments, and is not at all constructive to any conversation, so it seems kind of foolish that they would continue this labeling behavior.

    Chris Kelly names one good reason for this to happen....projection. Another good comment of his is about a "Ted clique". I haven't experienced this concept, but based on the conversation below about passive aggressive people, it seems like at least one "clique" of some sort does indeed exist:>)

    Was this thread meant to be a psychological analysis of other people? Most issues are better resolved when we take responsibility for our own behaviors, rather than blaming others.
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      Jun 13 2013: I really wasn't trying to get into the depths of most comments being made. I had seen some "sharp" comments made in response on a couple of ... what could be called "controversial" subjects. What made me question these comments was that they really weren't applicable and just mean in my view.
      For example. I believe that there are members of TED who comment are committed Christians, ,Muslims and Jews. God bless them. There are others, Hindus, Sheikhs, more then I can list and lets not forget Agnostics and Atheist. They all have beliefs.. Most beliefs cannot be verified. So what do I read? "you can't prove your comment, you ........ you!" Why such a comment.?
      I could gone on in a dozen different examples that seem to attract these kinds of comments. As many have said, they don't enhance the conversation.
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        Jun 13 2013: I agree Mike, that conversations about religion and god seem to attract the most controversial comments. I also agree with you that most beliefs cannot be verified.

        I observe that some people present their personal beliefs as if it is verifiable as the one and only truth, which often causes a challenge. I think it would help if people realize and accept the fact that there are MANY different beliefs, as you have acknowledged in your comment.

        I have lots of friends and relatives who believe in, and practice many different religious and philosophical beliefs. They do not preach, and constantly try to convert me, as we see happen here on TED at times. I've been told I am the devil, evil, uninformed, not very intelligent, etc. etc., because I do not believe in a god.

        I have stated MANY times that I respect people and their beliefs, if the belief and practice does not adversly impact other people. This statement and perception on my part, often gets me the label of "passive aggressive".

        ALL communications take two or more people to have a respectful, productive outcome.....true?
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        Jun 20 2013: Most would argue their belief is valid even though the evidence they point to is over 2000 years old.
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      Jun 20 2013: Suitability is another means of disenfranchising someone. Some people use it all the time, thinking no one notices. But we do notice.

      Telling someone the don't know what they are talking about is a form of labeling someone also. Especially if neither party is an expert on the subject. Yet, for the opportunity to pun someone, another will suggest they lack knowledge about the subject or miss the true understanding.
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    Jun 11 2013: Oh no! C'mon John, someone has to stand up for the other side! Sticks and stones and all that...
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    Jun 10 2013: It could be possible, as Chris Kelly points out, that we distort our memory in quite an egotistical way to make us always seem in the right. Which is problematic to any situation, considering it stops us from taking responsibility for our actions if we don't even know we had done something bad!
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    Jun 10 2013: Finally Cris Kelly, a video I watched all the way through and really enjoyed. :)
  • Jun 10 2013: Mike,
    This post is specifically addressed to you.
    By reading all the comments, whether they agree with you or not, ALL OF THEM ARE VERY CORDIAL to you, There wasn't any trace of disrespect here. So maybe the vitriol or verbal abuse occurred only when you touched their nerves, so to speak to induce their anger; justified or not. So I would respectfully suggest that if you find such nonsense again, post you argument only once, and if it seems to be a bad response, just reply that you don't think that there could not be any further fruitful discussion/exchange, and you just refuse to engage in any more activities.
    Respectfully yours,
    Bart
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      Jun 11 2013: Bart,
      Not all of the shots were at me. They were all over the place. I just thought that there were too many at too many. I consider myself as pretty thick skinned. And I have done as you suggested, left discussions when I felt that I could not add anything useful to the conversation.
      Thank You
  • Jun 8 2013: A varied number of reasons.
    We cannot control how people sit down to their computer and tell them their emotional state must be calm, rational, fair and disconnected from emotion, passion and urgency.
    We are all human, imperfect and sometimes, like we all do, have done and have done much more than once in our lives, have not really been aware of what we are feeling,burying or hiding beneath the surface of our "ted-face", much like all the other faces we put on daily. In other words, all the fakes we are, for decades.

    But, another reason is the growing number of Artificially Intelligent humans being 'made' by all the propaganda they are subjected to, through the use of lies, but mainly, fear. The number of growing Mental Robots in society is somewhat like those you do not favor here and their vitriol.
    They respond with, "well, what was I supposed to think?' The answer is that they "were supposed to think!" but don't.
    They repeat what they have been told to think, say or do. they react in that manner.

    In fact, for me, many who speak (write) rationally and soberly on Ted are the ones I want to flag.
    They sound just like they are robots. Calmly spewing out the sound bites they have learned by rote and think it makes sense.
    It isn't so much we disagree. It is more that change is needed and that change today requires very different thinking, and then acting on it.

    And time is of the essence for those younger than I.
    The present goes so fast.
    Now the present is, isn't.
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    Jun 8 2013: Everybody here is charming.
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    Jun 8 2013: I think also, that we can not ignore the fact that for some individuals it takes real courage to voice their opinions.

    So, they arm themselves with bravery, and say what they need to say:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUQsqBqxoR4
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      Jun 10 2013: This is true, especially for younger people or those who lack solid social media skills or those writing for the first time.

      With so many people pointing you to this video and that video it could give you the impression you really don't know what is going on.
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        Jun 10 2013: Absolutely agree.

        I personally like the lighthearted approach to topics.

        There is alot we just don't know. And even if someone is speaking truth to us, we might just perceive it in a different way all together.....even getting upset for no reason at all.

        I once said something in a comment to express my disagreement with another individual, and they thanked me for backing them up. They really had no idea that my comment meant the total opposite. Sometimes we see what we want to see.
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          Jun 10 2013: Yes, That is the way I see you when you write Mary. Your avatar kinda makes me think of you as a little flower blowing in the breeze. I think of a little girls with a billowy hat and frilly dress. A doll in one hand and the other holding onto her hat in the wind. Looking so innocent as she walks through the park, wondering at the world.
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        Jun 10 2013: I do like the imagery you conjured up.

        I do feel like a little girl wondering at the world.....and I am always looking to understand things better and better. There is so much to learn!!

        Thanks John.
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          Jun 10 2013: Make sure you have your shoes on before you go outside Mary. :)
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        Jun 10 2013: Thanks for the reminder John....I most definitely will not forget them. :)
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        Jun 10 2013: Mirroring is a very good technique.

        I have used it oftentimes, but never online.
        I am always amazed at how often people fail to recognize their own behavior......me included!!!

        Awareness of self is such an interesting topic of conversation.
        I am constantly thinking about my thinking, and self-examining my perceptions.
        I marvel sometimes at how much more I learn when I quietly observe, and keep my thoughts to myself.

        Chris, psychology.....what makes humans tick....really fascinates me.
        I guess that is why I read alot of biographies, and love learning about various cultures and the people inside those cultures.
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        Jun 10 2013: "they tend to label this behavior as mine, yet fail to recognize it as their own." I've heard you use that phrase before. It makes sense. I've found this to be true also.

        If you take someone Else's thoughts and reach a different conclusion, they think your incorrect and begin the attack because the same logic leads to a conclusion different from the one they are trying to force you to embrace. Some people think logic is their own, God given realm, They can get really peeved at you.

        Logic is nothing more that a tool, like a math function. You put stuff in, something comes out the others side according to the function. You can alter it by changing the variables, etc.

        I have found that the human mind is not so robotic in its ability to think and decipher the Universe around themselves. We can reach conclusions that are based on insightful reckoning, something that artists do all the time. They let the imagination roam freely. Einstein used this type of reasoning when he hitched a ride of a light beam.
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          Jun 11 2013: Your third paragraph on logic reminded me of something I contributed to the conversation on "why are we afraid to make mistakes".

          Here it is:

          From the book I am reading "Being Wrong" (K Schulz) page 121-122:

          "....a fundamental lesson of inductive reasoning...our mistakes are part and parcel of our brilliance, not the regrettable consequences of a separate and deplorable process......Believing something on the basis of messy, sparse, limited information really is how we err. But it is also how we think. What makes us right is what makes us wrong."
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    Jun 7 2013: I rarely see that Mike, I wonder why we're having different experiences?
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      Jun 8 2013: I don't know. Maybe, you keep better company?
      Seriously, it's been pointed out that most of my experiences have been in volatile subjects, such as education and evolution. So, I am beginning to think it's my selections that attract these kinds of comments
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        Jun 10 2013: I don't know Mike, Sometimes it may have to do with the way we see ourselves. By the way, what is a Curmugeon?
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          Jun 10 2013: Curmudgeon-----a bad tempered or surly person.

          Surly----bad tempered and unfriendly.

          Like I said before, this conversation is helping our vocabulary skills. :)
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    Jun 7 2013: Hi Mike.
    You are spot on. Personally I get quite frustrated by this sort of thing. I am a Christian, which in itself seems to be a red rag to a bull. Time & again I try to argue scientific points & get nothing but anti-biblical tirades. Really tiresome, as I would genuinely enjoy reasoned argument. TED attempts to be a forum for the civilised free exchange of ideas, & succeeds to a large extent, but there is certainly something about the evolution/atheist brigade that renders their feathers easily ruffled. Hope springs eternal........
    :-)
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        Jun 8 2013: I seldom am the first to mention the bible.

        :-)
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        Jun 7 2013: This is off topic, I will flag you if necessary. (JK)
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        Jun 7 2013: Yeah, I guess you're right....ok I take it back.
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        Jun 8 2013: @ ZX
        Sorry, that doesn't ring a bell. Must have missed it. Don't know a whole lot about the Trinity anyway.

        :-)
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      Jun 8 2013: I've noticed that too. Folks who proclaim themselves as atheist seem very reactive when discussing issues of faith and religion. I read recently that an atheist group from Wisconsin threatened to sue a school down in the southern bible belt for having prayers at a graduation ceremony. It's 1500 miles from Wisconsin to that school.
      Why? I don't understand the concern of school prayer at 1500 miles. I live in south Texas... ask me if I care if kids in Wisconsin pray in school. I don't really care if the kids in Wisconsin go to school. Well, yeah, I kind of do, but I wouldn't sue.
      So, why do atheists react so?
    • Jun 8 2013: I have seen several people trying hard to explain scientific points to you Peter.
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        Jun 8 2013: Some do Entropy, you included, however we are talking generalities. However explaining scientific points to me is a tad condescending, don't you think. Maybe my opinion is of some value as well?

        :-)
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          Jun 8 2013: Very interesting point Peter!

          Explaining scientific points to you may feel the same as explaining your religious beliefs to some of us with the comment that you are trying to "warn" us....."save us from the fires of hell"...we are "uninformed" because we do not believe as you do....etc....etc.....

          Do you ever think that may be "a tad condescending", as you insightfully point out in your comment?
        • Jun 8 2013: When someone knows better than me on something, they explain it to me, and I see no reason to think that such a thing is condescending. If I know more science than you, then of course I will explain in terms that you might consider condescending. You are quite misinformed about science. Science that I indeed know much better than you. That does not mean that I am superior to you, it only means that I know science better. We should focus very little on how the comments "feel" and much more on whether there's a point been clarified or explained.

          When I read your comments I still try hard to see the points you are trying to make. I know that I don't know all the sciences, and therefore, were you to make a point on something I don't know much about, then I would research it before answering (I have done so many more times than once). Anyway, the point is: sure, you might have something to offer. That's why I pay attention. But when you are misinformed don't get all hurt feelings. Maybe what I say has some value too?
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          Jun 10 2013: I don't remember ever hearing you toss any fire and brimstone arguments at anyone Peter. You've always been open and honest about your religion. And, many of your opinions are intelligently worded and logically valid.

          Did I miss something?
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        Jun 8 2013: I agree Entropy, that when someone knows something better than me, they explain it, and I see no reason to think it is condescending.

        What feels condescending (to assume an air of superiority) is when someone thinks they know what is "right" and the "only" belief for me.....as in religion for example. When someone tells me I am "uninformed" because I do not agree with him, that feels condescending, and it doesn't say anything about me.....it gives me information about that person:>)
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          Jun 10 2013: "Explaining scientific points to you may feel the same as explaining your religious beliefs to some of us with the comment that you are trying to "warn" us....."save us from the fires of hell"...we are "uninformed" because we do not believe as you do....etc....etc.....

          Do you ever think that may be "a tad condescending", as you insightfully point out in your comment?"

          Collen, when you use plural indicative nouns like "we" and "us", it can be construed as condescending to consider that you are somehow a part of a group that shares your complete and total opinion. Most people are in between this scientific and religious culture of misunderstanding. I've never had this feeling of condescension, towards Peter you imply.
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        Jun 10 2013: John Moonstroller,
        I DO speak for myself John, and when I am aware of sharing a thought, feeling, idea or belief with others, I use the appropriate terms. I am aware of the meaning of "we" and "us", and the concept I write about has been shared by others many times on TED, so I feel comfortable in the way I expressed it.

        The term in question is "condescending", rather than "condensation", and it is a term that Peter Law introduced in his previous comment.

        Perhaps you could correct him too!!! LOL:>)

        EDIT:
        I notice you changed "condensation" to "condescension" John:>)
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          Jun 11 2013: Peter, consider yourself corrected. :)

          What? Condensation is not the action of condescending? :) I didn't know that.
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      Jun 10 2013: It's really not a problem Pet until you try to merge religion with science or imply that one is responsible for the other.

      I'm Jewish, but I rarely tell or refer that to people, unless it supports the conversation in some way. I'm really not a practicing Jewish person. It's been ages since I've been to Temple.
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    Jun 7 2013: If you see this happening, then flag it.
    A TEDster once said in a comment "I give your contribution a thumbs down."
    And you know what happened?
    Someone flagged the comment, and the comment was "poof" made to disappear.

    So, if that litte comment which contained no profanity, or off colored words, was flagged, and removed, then by all means, if someone hurts your feelings, feel free to flag. It will be noted.

    VITRIOL: Cruel and bitter criticism
    Thanks for the new vocab word :P
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        Jun 7 2013: Say what?

        That's it Mister, I'm flagging your reply to me.
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          Jun 10 2013: Your not going to take that lying down are you Mary :)

          Flagging on TED is like fragging in combat. If a direct shot won't work, throw a grenade.:)
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        Jun 7 2013: Ha.

        I think that some people are more sensitive than others.

        I really rarely see any kind of rude remarks in the conversations.
        I have seen them mostly under the talk for the day.

        It gets really heated over there. People are very passionate about their "opinions".

        Come to think of it, I won't flag you after all. I changed my mind. Woman's perogative...LOL
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    Jun 7 2013: The reasons for displays of aggression, anger, intolerance, and rudeness are probably the same online as offline, with three differences. First, anonymity may reduce restraint of impulse. Second, an interest in maintaining continuing positive personal relations is less an issue online- people often don't care very much about others in the conversation. Third, people are more likely to misunderstand people they cannot see and who are from a difference place with different background from their own. Thus accidental offense results from misunderstanding and causes anger. Even between, say, England and America, words in the same language can have quite different connotations.

    I think if you notice one person is personally attacking another as you describe, particularly if it is one way rather than both parties doing it, you should feel free to flag it. The bystander has an important role in fostering the culture of a community.
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        Jun 10 2013: Or good women: consider the woman who interacted with the terrorist who mortally hurt that soldier in England.
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          Jun 7 2013: Just so you know, I thumbed up Chris. LOL
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        Jun 8 2013: What!?

        I'll have you know I do not believe in the doctrine of hell as a place of torment......my seat in hell is reserved, yes, ....for the day I die.....because to me the term means the common grave of mankind.

        And just for that, I will now thumb up ZX Style....heeheehee
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      Jun 10 2013: "I have never experienced this myself.
      On the average the TEDsters are friendly"

      All things come to he who waits.