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My question is, does the anonymity afforded on the internet make it worse or only highlight what is already there? Is this how people really are or does the internet let them vent and role play things they would otherwise never say out in civil society?
It absolutely only highlights what is there (inside, at least, not necessarily what is acted out). We did a small research project during one of my years in school regarding what people could do if they were guaranteed anonymity and no repercussions, and the results were generally soul-crushing.