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Yes, the internet is making you a meaner person (so let's be nice!)
80 percent of one survey's participants say we're all becoming jerks
 
Shape up guys, it's not cool.
Shape up guys, it's not cool. Thinkstock

Hello, internet user! Have you witnessed anyone being mean on a website today? Chances are you have!

According to a new survey from corporate training advisers VitalSmarts, nearly 80 percent of 3,000 respondents believe that people are becoming increasingly rude on the internet. What's more disturbing, though, is that those same folks doing the finger-wagging say they have "no qualms" about being big ol' jerkfaces themselves when they're hurling insults in comment sections or getting into shouting matches on Facebook.

Other sad-face statistics from the survey include:

* Two in five users have severed contact with a one-time pal due to a digital altercation
* One in five people try to avoid former friends IRL that they've had an online argument with

How do otherwise decent human beings with hearts and stuff suddenly transform into ALL-CAPS USING JERKS not-nice-people when they're behind a computer screen? One probable answer, says VitalSmarts co-chairman Joseph Grenny, is that a lack of peer pressure in the digital realm means people feel like they can get away with being rude. Here's what Grenny recommends doing if you want your pixelated approximation to reflect a kinder, gentler you (and really, who doesn't?):

He said three rules that could improve conversations online were to avoid monologues, replace lazy, judgmental words, and cut personal attacks particularly when emotions were high. [Reuters]

In other words, yeah, that 800-word knee-jerk manifesto you were going to leave on your pal's Facebook status probably isn't the best idea in the world. We can change this! The next time something you read online makes you angry (probably in the next two minutes?), close your eyes, take a deep breath, and step away from the keyboard (or just close the tab). There. That wasn't so bad, was it?

So, let's all take it upon ourselves to not be jerks on the internet. It's the hot new thing going forward in 2013. We can do this, you guys.

 
Chris Gayomali is the science and technology editor for TheWeek.com. Sometimes he writes about other stuff. His work has also appeared in TIME, Men's JournalEsquire, and The Atlantic.

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