Web Hate:
Over at The American Conservative, Freddy Gray comments on how often Internet comments are nasty and over the top:
[A] disturbingly high number of people who comment . . . under web articles are mad and nasty and best ignored. Look around the web: it is often astonishing to see the levels of hatred and viciousness that the most harmless words can engender. The Internet places none of society's constraints upon its users, so webman resorts to his default human setting: outright, depraved hostility. It's quite scary when you think about it.
  I think there are two somewhat distinct factors at play here. Gray notes one that is widely understood, that the usual social constraints are gone. If you're anonymous, you don't have to fear people will judge you for being an ass.

  I think there's a second factor that is less often noted, but that is also important: The web brings people into close contact with other people that they don't actually know, and it's much easier to be nasty to someone you don't personally know than someone you do. Most of us connect with people we meet in real life. The personal meeting humanizes the other person. They smile at us; we smile at them; we all feel a bit more together than before. Online, most exchanges are among people who haven't met each other in person, and who are therefore unusually inclined to envision the worst in others and are more likely to be nasty to them.

  Hat tip: Arkady