No matter who you are, there is a huge chance that you spent some time arguing with someone online that couldn’t seem to grasp your words. But if you think about it, you wouldn’t change your mind because someone started screaming at you – especially in the comments or anywhere online.
The same thing goes to your arguments with other people in the vast online world, usually in social media. They may stop responding to you, but that doesn’t mean you have won the argument or even convinced them with your beliefs.
According to an author, we tend to hold on to our beliefs more when they are challenged. The main idea is how our brains handle negative information. For instance, several positive remarks may go unnoticed, but when just one person says “You suck,” this can stay in our heads for days. There aren’t a lot of studies or books about arguing online, but there are many reasons why people engage in such activity, such as:
- The power of anonymity
- Online identity creation
- Online popularity
- Search for likeminded people
- Online disinhibition
But the real question is this: how does arguing affect our health, specifically our mental health? A health and social psychologist named Dawn Branley conducted a research regarding the dangers and benefits of using the Internet. She shared about the following facts about arguing online:
- Arguing has a real effect on us – whether it is good or bad.
- 60% of online arguments have a person with an increased pulse and a rush of adrenaline.
- 50% claimed they become a little bit emotionally involved with the disagreements.
- A little over four percent said they were not emotionally involved.
When it comes to feelings, people who have arguments online have the following reactions:
- Frustration: 27.5%
- Sad and misunderstood: 18%
- Anger: 13.5%
- Excitement: 5.7%
- Pride: 1.6%
Clearly, there’s no happiness in arguing online. But as far as mental health is concerned, there’s no effect for most people who regularly argue online. However, there are still a number of individuals who go through stress and even depression and anxiety. Some experience worsening of their existing mental health problems, while others think about self-harm.
Online arguing is definitely not for people who are already in a vulnerable state of mind. However, there are also positive things from an online debate. Many people had a laugh out of an argument and others find them quite amusing and a healthy exercise for the brain. As long as it is an intelligent argument and people don’t resort to name-calling and whatnot, it simply becomes an exchange of ideas where humans from behind the monitor converse rationally while standing up for what they believe in.