The difference in online and printed comment is masked anonymity. Certainly, anyone online can be identified given the need. The masked anonymity gives people the impression that they can comment without consequence. And the format of instantaneous call and response, inspires people to join in on a virtual game of one upmanship. When you read a letter, you read it with a depth of consideration that invites mature thinking. When you read an online comment, you are simultaneously trying to post a pithy response in time to have all participants in the “game” recognize your prowess with insult and the written word.

Serious responses or comments come with the energy necessary to identify oneself, create and submit well thought out and edited material subject to a vetting or review, with a time gap.

Online commentary is immature and poorly thought out and repetitive to the point of is rampant in YouTube. My favorite Youtuber disabled the comment section completely.