There's a recent story about "web aggression" and how much of it there is. They go into a lot of nasty things that people have done online and then they take a shot at why they're doing it. I am not a hamster however, they're mostly wrong.
You see, the big reason they give for "web aggression" or "online rage" is "the anonymity the Internet provides". Where they, and most other people, are mistaken is that in spite of what anyone thinks there really isn't as much anonymity online as some people would have us believe.
Don't get me wrong, anonymity online is not only possible, there's a lot of people who manage it quite effectively every day of their online lives. We don't hear about these people because they're staying anonymous because they DON'T want to draw attention to themselves.
Yes, there's a minority of people with very little in the way of sense and even less in the way of brains who have managed to achieve serious anonymity, but for the overwhelming majority most of them are just people who are aching for a chance to be loud and obnoxious without getting caught.
Most people however, have very little idea of how to be anonymous. They think that doing things like using a false email address or an assumed name will hide who they are from those whom they would harass. Yet abusers like this are caught all the time, that's why we keep hearing about them on the news.
For example, the guy who hacked Sarah Palin's email account didn't do hardly anything to conceal his identity or hide his tracks. If he had I guarantee you that he'd have never been caught as long as he kept what he'd done to himself.
To all those who would decide that a bit of online stalking or harassment sounds like a fun way to give grief to somebody they don't like or are angry with I would say think again. You're not nearly as anonymous as you think you are and even if you are one of the elite who understand real anonymity, all you have to do is make one mistake and you'll wake up one day to be staring down the barrel of the law come to get you.
To all of those who are attacked online I would say that the best thing you can do is to ignore the trolls that are after you. But just in case, keep records. Save the offensive and or threatening emails (the whole thing with the headers intact, not just the text in the body!), note the urls of attacks in forum posts, blogs, MySpace, Facebook, whatever and keep it in case things start to go south.
The largest percentage of trolls are universal in one thing, they crave attention, don't give it to them and sooner or later they'll lose interest. If such a troll crosses the line and starts messing around with you or your family in real life, take the matter to the law.