Linguistic aggressiveness and linguistic pestilence have reached alarming proportions on the web.

A few months ago, a well-known and much-visited Internet portal invited its readers to answer a short and singular survey online. Its single question read, verbatim: "What words do you use most frequently on social networks to defend or challenge your own or other people's criteria on issues such as sport, the economy, culture, or politics?" The result of the poll was shocking. And almost all the answers were enough to make one's nose twitch.

Epithets of the highest caliber came to the fore. From the classic asshole - the Iberian insult par excellence - to obscene allusions to the interlocutor's family tree, especially to his or her progenitor, common to all languages. The result of the eccentric research confirms a truism: in some social networks -especially Facebook and Twitter- linguistic misery reigns supreme.

Opinions are not defended with arguments but with insolence. One pathetic aspect of this scenario is that many of those who practice it hide their real names behind a pseudonym. Afraid to show their faces, they go so far as to usurp other people's identities to erode the prestige they lack. As with anonymous letters - typical of the envious and faint-hearted - they show how little courage they have.

Because of these twisted ways of acting, the splendid scenario for fraternization and debate that is social networks today has interactive zones that are difficult to navigate. They are like shantytowns, like underworlds, where one must take extreme precautions, because in any nook and cranny someone with a balaclava can appear, ready to attack at the point of provocation.

Anxious to be noticed - the only way they have found to exist - they engage in a kind of vulgar and aggressive bullying on social networks, with ramblings saturated with virulence, rage, envy, and even revenge against those who do not share their ideas. Faced with a point of view they do not share, they pounce on the person who supports it with "you are wrong", instead of "I think differently". As if they owned absolute truth!

Examples of this reality abound. When Barcelona and Real Madrid play each other, the forums turn into sewers because of the impudent language used by fans to hurl abuse and disqualifications at each other. It is the same when Lionel Messi is compared to Cristiano Ronaldo. Site editors rarely moderate them, perhaps with the sensationalist intention of heating the controversy and adding polemicists to their portal. And if the subject under debate is politics, well, how about a sign of the cross?

Linguistic aggressiveness and linguistic pestilence have reached such alarming proportions on the web that even Pope Francis has decided to take matters into his own hands. "Please don't insult, we have nothing to gain from it," the Pope pleaded in an interview. It remains to be seen whether his saintly and timely words have any effect on those who seek to turn digital spaces into latrines.