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Author's Note: Is there a psychological reason for people being mean on the Internet?

Not that I want to tempt fate, but I've witnessed only a few Internet flame-ups -- and they've all been from a comfortable distance. Well, comfortable may be an overstatement, since I tend to back away from discord among friends and colleagues rather than jump into the fray. Still, I doubt whether the assertions we make online would be as vehement if we were discussing the matter face-to-face at a cocktail party or post-meeting mingle. I love the convenience and speed of online communication, but there's something to be said for remembering manners, even when the topic is a difficult one.

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