More than half of the UK population are apparently contemplating revenge on a co-worker, boss or friend - mostly via Facebook or Twitter, a new poll has suggested.
Up to 52% of Britons are currently plotting some sort of vengeance, the survey of 2,000 people polled to mark the release of the TCM's new Western TV series Hell on Wheels showed.
Co-workers ranked as the most popular targets, followed by friends and bosses. Nearly four in ten (38%) of those polled admitted that they have already sought revenge on someone.
Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter appear to be the preferred medium for payback, with half of those polled saying they believe most acts of vengeance take place on Facebook alone.
Seven in ten (69%) of those polled said that the social networks are actually responsible for driving users' thirst for vengeance, while more than one in ten (13%) said people in the public eye deserve to be abused on social networks if they are perceived to have transgressed.
The act most deserving of revenge was adultery, one third of those polled said, followed by lying (19%) and stealing (9%).
"We have long known that there's a lot of anger bottled up inside people. Exasperated with workmates, frustrated by politicians, infuriated by bankers, envious of shallow celebrities... we all have moments when the blood boils.
"Mostly we keep this pent up, muttering under our breath, issuing a silent curse, dreaming of what we'd do if only we could..."
The rise of social networks has made acting on those feelings easier, he said - requiring only the typing of a slur rather than a face-to-face confrontation.
Up to 57% of those polled said it was easier to take revenge online than it is in person. One fifth (22%) of those surveyed said they would prefer to use Facebook as a medium for vengeance.
More than a quarter (28%) of 18-35 year olds admitted to getting their own back after someone posted an embarrassing photograph of them on a social network and 14% of 18-24 year olds said they would be more offended if someone "defriended" them on Facebook than if they stopped speaking to them.
Webster called the results "chilling".
"If, as this survey suggests, online technologies are making revenge more acceptable nowadays, then the consequences of an increasingly networked world may be chilling," he said.
"Do we want to live in a society where immediate insult, personal ridicule and hate speech finds ready expression and even approval?"
Source: AFP Global Edition