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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Chessplaying Buttheads

      Former US CC Champion Edward Duliba refused to play chess on the internet because he felt you met the most rude and crude of the chess world there.

      Studies have shown the internet can lead to “disinhibition” which is just a lack of interpersonal feedback that you get in face-to-face communication. This can, as one article stated, lead to “enhanced self-disclosure” and “personal attacks.” Now, I’m no psychologist, but I think “enhanced personal disclosure” means “lying” and  “personal attacks” is self-explanatory..
      The article listed some possible causes of disinhibition which is defined as a reduction in accountability which results in decreased self-regulation. I think these disinhibited individuals are probably the same people who write obscenities on the walls of public toilets. Another factor is reduced social clues due to limited nonverbal cues to communicate meaning. I might add there is also the language barrier. During my working career I worked with the British and discovered their sense of humor on occasion differed considerably from mine! There is also a lowered sense of “being there” that results in a lower sense of accountability.
      The internet has also, to some extent, contributed to the dysfunction of family life. Kids (and parents) who are always on instant messaging, Facebook and cell phones has resulted in diminished participation in family interaction which can result in each family member being wrapped up in their own little techno-world. That can’t be good.
      My guess is that it’s the enhanced personal disclosure that leads some players to using engines to generate their moves. It’s clearly the disinhibition that leads to anti-social behavior like abusive language. As Chessbase columnist Steve Lopez observed, “…heaven forbid that you say "Good game" as a pleasantry after you win -- your opponent will think you're mocking him, call you every filthy (although hilariously misspelled) epithet he can think of, and then instantly be off to the nearest message board to accuse you of being a computer cheat and/or to make wild allegations about your legal status, family heritage, or sexual preference -- all just because he lost a chess game to you.” As a result Lopez chose to remain mute and the result of that was he was still called names. It’s no wonder that, thankfully, many sites have a mute button so you can disable chat.
      As Lopez observed, for many people everything is about them and nobody else matters. We see professional athletes acting like children, chest bumping and dancing after scoring and it has filtered all the way down to 6-year old kids imitating this stupid behavior. At our house we watch American Idol occasionally and I can’t believe the ego of some of the participants. They’re new to the business and already want to act like divas.
      The attitude often is, “I can do anything I want, but you have to abide by the rules. If you don’t like it, **** you!” Too many people hate the thought that somebody may know more about a subject than they do. Jeremy Silman told the story about how he was watching and commenting on an internet GM game and got trashed by a bunch of players who thought they understood the game better than he did because their engines said so. He withdrew from the conversation.
      Many people fail to realize that while we may all be equal, that does NOT mean we all have the same abilities. One thing I did not like about the US military was just because a person was higher ranked than me did not make them “superior” to me and I could never figure out why officers were married to “ladies” while enlisted men had “wives.” The problem is lack of respect for other people. This is the reason you almost never see titled players on forums. They don’t like getting flamed by deindividualized, disinhibited people wanting to enhance their personal disclosure.  As Lopez has so astutely pointed out, the threat of physical violence is what keeps a lot of people in line during their daily life. Remove that threat and all restraints are off      Fortunately many online sites give you options when you run into people with too much ego and too little brain…it’s the aforementioned disable chat and the “ignore this player” options. Granted that after playing one of these individuals I’ll probably never meet them again, but still, putting them on my ignore list gives me a feeling of satisfaction.

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