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There is something annoying about the technological era that we live in. Sometimes I feel that courtesy is on the low end of the scale, with flame wars erupting just about everywhere online, including an online discussion board at the campus I’m at and the thing that is the source of my irritation is the obvious sexism I observe among male students and how they behave when they feel or they incorrectly attribute something based on their own sense of inadequacy.

Now they may not be inadequate, but they feel somewhat threatened if a female undergraduate expresses a different view or adds something different to the mix, they come back with some horrible insults that are always aimed at their intellect. Just this week I’ve had to be called in to resolve such an argument. Why? It relates to two people within a tutorial group I take and how their online conversation has been flowering and, as they are in my tutorial, I thought I’d step in because it’s becoming ridiculous.

I can’t say that I enjoy males who essentially project their sense of insecurity onto women and whenever I come across this sort of thing I tend to wonder what is an acceptable level of dominant or, as I sometimes see it, silverback behaviour. How can one really be in total control? As for the female student, I sense a rising aggravation within her while he too is becoming more and more bold with his insults. It’s only a moment of time before one of them explodes and then I’ll have to answer to the course coordinator.

So to prevent that scenario, I decided to call each of them in for a little talk and told them the same thing, with a minor deviation for each but the bottom line was that their behaviour was unacceptable. To him, I mentioned the inappropriateness of intellectual insults in general and to her, I remarked on her immediate response. No, this isn’t about the common romantic delusion. There is no romantic attraction, just negative tension or the kind of tension you have when you are confronted with the bane of your existence: an interfering inlaw, a manipulative co-worker and the like.

The very thing that I wanted to point out, that of male verbal violence, was not only repugnant to me, but was unacceptable as a code of online conduct, which brings me to notion of the virtual persona and how people go off the rails and say the most stupid things to others online. This I did mention to him: how it could negatively affect his future as a potential researcher. No one likes a vindictive little bitch-male and the reason I say that is because this student is using language in a violent format, that way he can escape any responsibility for his actions but to me, any verbal insult is a violent insult.

So far, I’m crossing my fingers, nothing has unfolded on the discussion board and I’m hoping nothing will or if there is discussion, these two students keep a virtual distance -if that’s possible.

I don’t know. What with all the social networking these days, there is also so much unnecessary but related stress.

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