Wikipedia Is Written By Bitter Losers

Nicholas Carr on “sour Wikipedians”:

In their report on the results of the study, the scholars paint a picture of Wikipedians as social maladapts who “feel more comfortable expressing themselves on the net than they do off-line” and who score poorly on measures of “agreeableness and openness.” Noting that the findings seem in conflict with public perceptions, the researchers suggest that “the prosocial behavior apparent in Wikipedia is primarily connected to egocentric motives … which are not associated with high levels of agreeableness.”

And Youtubers are no better:

contributors are primarily driven by a craving for attention. If the videos they upload aren’t clicked on, they tend to quickly exit the “community.” YouTubers view their contributions not as pieces of “a digital commons” but as “private goods” that are “paid for by attention.”

Scott Caplan, a communications professor at the University of Delaware, tells New Scientist that studies of social networks generally indicate that “people who prefer online social behaviour tend to have higher levels of social anxiety and lower social skills.”

None of this is particularly surprising. But the findings do lend a darker tint to the rose-colored rhetoric that surrounds online communities. A wag might suggest that “social production” would be more accurately termed “antisocial production.”

I’m not sure I think it’s terribly fair to characterize people with high social anxiety and lower social skills as inherently anti-social.  Not everyone’s an extrovert.  If the internet gives a tool for the more anxious to reach out to others and interact, where’s the problem?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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