Same as You Are: Personalities Traits Online

i had myself a bit of a rant

I consider myself a fairly reasonable person. I want to understand both sides; it’s part of how I make sense of the world. If I enter an argument online I do it the same way. I don’t change a fundamental part of my nature because I become anonymous. I am the same.

I often hear, or read, that people online are so awful. I hear that anonymous users online say the worst things. They contribute in the nastiest battles. They terrorize. They group together to yell. They say things they would never say in real life. They’re worse humans. They look at filth; they are filth. But, this, is not so.

People do not suddenly change their compositions, their natures, because they’re in front of a keyboard. The same person who types from behind a wall of identity protection also speaks the same way in a bar. It is not two different people who sit down to type and sit down to eat with their families. Like in all things humans alter their course with circumstance, mood, attitude, and ambiance. But to say you’re not responsible for your actions online, or to say people are worse online, is ridiculous. It dodges the same moral responsibility as saying the drunkard bears no blame for his crimes or the angry for their words.

Those who are rude and belligerent online possess those same attributes offline as well. One might feel freer with one’s speech or actions. For the same reason flings seem easier on vacation. You know these people will disappear, and you don’t have to deal with immediate consequences on your immediate social circle. In the same way a casual comment about the vlog poster’s hideous shirt gets voiced. There can be no personal confrontational repercussions. There are rude people everywhere. The internet just keeps better track of them with the written word. Imagine if every bar fight was transcribed to a chatroom, there might be calls of indecency or rudeness, calls for bannings of bars.

Quit telling me people online are worse because they don’t have accountability, or they think they’re untouchable. If people act socially reprehensible online, it’s because they are acting socially reprehensible. They’re breaking the social guidelines of the website just like they would be breaking cultural norms if they were speaking their minds to their friends. The medium of the internet is their outlet. Those people get banned or called out, and rarely lauded, just like in normal crowd settings. The difference between the internet and face to face interaction is that anyone can see it, so it’s all up for grabs, instead of selective communities only hearing what their friends have to say.

I know this is an immensely complicated issue, because it deals with complex social-cultural interaction. I’m dealing with a small aspect. I’m just tired of hearing, the internet is a horrible place when I’m watching news video footage of bombings from all over the world.

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3 thoughts on “Same as You Are: Personalities Traits Online

  1. Claudia McGill

    I agree with you. You are who you are wherever you go, as they say. Sometimes you are just more of yourself than other times. I do think anonymity, or the fact that you don’t have to actually face the person you’re communicating with, tends to skew the “youness” to a more free expression.

    Maybe if we each try to be nicer one time a day? Pollyannaish idea? Sometimes it influences others. I have also noticed that if others are complaining and I say something against the trend, people will back down and see things a little differently.

    I’m hoping!

    Reply
  2. Jean-Jacques @ Gypsy Café

    “People do not suddenly change their compositions, their natures, because they’re in front of a keyboard. The same person who types from behind a wall of identity protection also speaks the same way in a bar. It is not two different people who sit down to type and sit down to eat with their families.”

    I’m afraid I have to disagree as well. It would seem that the virtual world brings out the shadow in people. All humans have a shadow-side, but it remains reasonable well processed and illuminated when we deal with people in real life and we remain reasonably well-balanced. The anonymity of being online definitely changes that – and perfectly reasonable people – normally – (can) turn into bullies and trouble makers. It’s very sad, really – to see this happen.

    The difference is this: In real life face to face situations – in the office, in the shop, in the street, in class, at home, on the bus, etc – if you should insult somebody, they might retaliate. In fact there’s a very good chance they would. And that retaliation could be physical. We are all intelligent enough to understand that. In the on-line world this doesn’t apply.

    It is those who are too cowardly to confront people in real life, who tend to be aggressive on-line (passive in real life aggressive on-line: passive/aggressive – it comes out on-line). Deeply insecure people act like that, but the majority doesn’t. Although it would seem that increasingly young/er people act this way – which would point to the on-line world actually holding people back from maturing properly – which is a whole debate in itself.

    Reply
  3. memadtwo

    I disagree with you. People say things anonymously they would never say if their name and face was attached to it, or if they were in direct face-to-face conversation with someone. That can be good or bad. It can free you to speak up, but it can also free you to spout every thought that goes through your mind and to join in group maliciousness that escalates in a way the thought going through your mind would never do.
    It’s like entrapment as a police tactic (which I totally disagree with). You may never think to participate in the illegal activity if the police didn’t set it up for you and encourage you to do it. Yes, people can be sucked into doing or saying bad things! But you should not be inciting or enabling it.

    Reply

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