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web rage

noun [uncountable]

anger and frustration caused by problems using the Internet

'Slow-loading websites cost Brits 2.5 days of their lives every year, and users take out their web rage on others and their computer kit.'

Tech, UK 9th May 2007

If you're a regular Internet user, have you ever felt a mounting sense of tension during what seems like an interminable wait for a web page to load? If so, calm down, you could be on the point of succumbing to a bout of web rage!

According to a recent survey of 1,600 Internet users in the UK, web rage is on the increase, causing short-temperedness and even physical aggression – not necessarily thumping the nearest person, but frustrated bashing of keyboards and over-zealous mouse-clicking!

research reveals that Internet users are not generally prepared to wait for more than a minute for a site to load

The top cause of web rage is the frustration of slow-loading web pages, but among other sources of irritation are images that don't load, websites that require specific software to run, requests for personal details before being allowed into a site, and 'help' buttons which don't really 'help'.

Research reveals that Internet users are not generally prepared to wait for more than a minute for a site to load, and will usually go to an alternative site if they feel they're waiting too long. This means that web rage could have an important influence in business – with so many choices available on the Internet, consumers will quickly dismiss a site and switch to another if the first one they choose fails to perform according to their expectations.

Feeling so frustrated that you could 'throw your computer out of the window' is one thing, but there was an incident in 2005 which took the concept of web rage to alarming extremes. Tempers flared after two men hurled insults at each other in an Internet chatroom. One man subsequently traced the other's address, travelled 70 miles to his home, and attacked him with a pickaxe. In November 2006, the attacker was sentenced to two and a half years in jail, the first person in the UK to be formally charged with web rage.

Background – web rage

The expression web rage first appeared in the late nineties. It is, of course, based on the established noun compound road rage, which describes the violent anger caused by stress and frustration when driving. Road rage was allegedly coined in the US in 1984 by a writer for the Los Angeles Times, who used the expression when reporting the story of a truck driver who shot a car driver that had manoeuvred dangerously in front of him. The term caught on and was adopted in British English a few years later. It has spawned a variety of expressions describing violent anger caused by a particular situation, such as air rage (violent behaviour by an aircraft passenger towards other people on the plane), trolley rage (arguments over people blocking supermarket aisles with their trolleys), and (sun) lounger rage (arguments over seating by the sides of holiday swimming pools).

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 18th June 2007.

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