I was reading a blog post written by ‘smoothspan’ called Social Media: The New is the Old, People are People. This post talks about if you have a new piece of social media technology that you find might appear alien, he says compare how it would work in the real world. He says that “There is a real world analog for most any Social Media”. ‘Smoothspan’ backs up his arguments with blog post, Twitter accounts, forums, and groups. He says that although twitters 140 characters might seem weird, if we were to have a real conversation in real-life, then we would probably not go over 140 characters because other people would be talking back and forth. Blogs allow for comments at the bottom, and forums and groups allows for similar discussions. He likens them to group talks where you can comment after the person has spoken. He says that although social media changes things a little, people are still people and they interact in much the same way. However, although he brings up good points, I have to admit that I rather disagree with ‘smoothspan’ on his argument.
For a while now I have been reading up on the psychology of cyberspace. Conversations that occur through social media, however similar they appear to real life conversations, are not. The online disinhibition effect plays a major role in how humans interact with the Internet. There are several points to the disinhibition effect, such as dissociative anonymity (you don’t know me) and invisibility (you can’t see me) that affect how we interact with each other on the Internet. It is well known that people say and do things online that they would normally not face-to-face. Time is a huge factor that needs to be taken into consideration. Face-to-face, people have to react and act on the spot whereas online, responding to a person can be delayed and thought out well before a response is actually sent. A person’s personality and the mood that they are in at a particular moment will also hinder how the person behaves and reacts online. Shy people, tend to feel safe and secure behind a computer and thus interact differently with people online as opposed to people offline. The Internet is not actually a space at all, but a made-up world we created.
Interacting with the Internet does mimic to a certain degree how we interact in real-life, only because as humans we know no other way. However, disinhibition factors play a huge role in the way in which we communicate online. So to say people are people and interact in the same way is a bit of an over statement. I asked my Twitter followers what they thought and here are the responses I got.
@Xgalien: on the internet people are more spontaneous, less inhibited, you see more of the inside of them…
@anthonyidem: Geez, I hope not..
@chapin55 My interest is personality. Schizoids and introverts are much more outgoing online. I’ve heard some freaky things regarding online experiences.
I will be discussing more on this later next week.