Is the Internet the cause of much of today's "hate" talk?

I have grown totally tired of the comments sections that follow many of today’s new articles on the Internet. If it were possible I would blank them all out. We used to be a nation of civility. At least most of us didn’t get into each others faces  to scream and rant.  That civility seems to be a thing of the past the last few years. I don’t think I have seen even the most urbane article on the Internet that is not followed by someone totally dissing someone else. I imagine, or at least I am hopeful that if the person who is hidden behind some anonymous screen name were really talking face-to-face with someone they would not say the words they do on-line.

There has been a lot of studies that show that “mob mentality” is a result of being able to do something without being identified as the person who did it. It seems to bring out the animal instincts that are embedded deeply down in most of us. If most of the news agencies required the person who comments on the articles to provide his full name, phone number, email and snail address I imagine most of this hate talk would be pretty much a thing of the past.  At least I hope it would.

I am convinced that this on-line hateful rhetoric is at least part of the reason for the recent Tea Party rise. In the past there was at least some basic level of civility in our society even among opposing politicians. Is that now a thing of the past? Are we doomed to the current level of discourse in our world?  One of the things I admired most about my hero Will Rogers was that he could bring issues to the surface and still like the person he was talking about and treat them respectfully. His famous quote was that he never met a man he didn’t like.  I try to follow his ways but I too must sometimes admit that I probably go too far once in a while.  For that I apologize.

But what do I know….