"I'm not saying you can't run into crazies, but I've never had reason to assume that it's any more likely to happen online than in real life."I encounter FAR more people in my day to day dealings online than I do in the real world. This may be "unique" to my situation, I admit, but the fact remains. I hardly leave my house, except for basic errands and I don't do those every day. I also do not walk around with my name over my head or on my shirt. To the majority of the people in the real world, I am just another moving obstacle to avoid. The difference in standing at a bus station and saying "I really hate X." and doing it on a forum or online where your real identity is posted along with your opinion is this:
The crazies online have information to work with. A 'permanent' imprint of your name and your opinion. Overtime, they can accumulate quite a bit of these opinions together and come to sometimes surprising and sometimes accurate conclusions about who you are as a person. At the bus stop? A small handful of people may hear you - they are likely to be strangers - and if they want to find out WHO you are, they are going to have to take public and possibly drastic action to do it. I maintain more anonymity on the street in a crowd of strangers in real life, than I do posting to a community of strangers on the internet - with or without my real name attached.
And the lasting nature of posts on the internet means that the chance of a crazy latching onto what you've said/posted... so much higher than the chances of some crazy in real life happening to hear what you said.
And let's face it. Crazies on the internet are a much more broad category. People who would be "normal" and reasonable in their real life dealings can turn into complete Jekylls when online.