Behind the screen

good evil

This is a short post and I’m hoping for some feedback. The internet is a vast and sometimes confusing place. Within its virtual walls we’re not only capable of finding large amounts of information, we also have the opportunity to get to know people as they really are. Over the years I’ve been involved in numerous forums, some professional, some personal and some simply for fun. One thing that has fascinated me, and still continues to fascinate me, is how people act when they get behind the screen.

A friend of mine has this theory that, once some people slip in behind that screen, all their inhibitions simply melt away and they behave in ways contrary to their ‘real life’ personality.  I only partly agree. I do believe we are more prone to let lose a bit behind our screens, I do not however believe we behave different to our real life personalities. In fact, I believe the character that shines through the words we type on our computers, is closer to the ‘real’ thing than what we project to the physical world. I believe our personalities and character is exposed for all to see in our virtual comments and discussions. After all, the reader of a comment is not distracted by the writer’s dazzling smile, or imposing figure. They cannot be impressed by trendy clothes or expensive jewelry. They might not initially know the status, title or credentials of the person typing the words on a screen. All they have to go on, is the words and the ‘attitude’ that seeps into those words.

What are your thoughts? Have you been witness to someone having a ‘split personality’ on and off screen? What about you – are you the same on and off line?


8 thoughts on “Behind the screen

  1. I think I am exactly the same online and in real life. Sometimes it’s difficult to express humour or benign teasing online, so emoticons come in handy. Difficulties arise most of all when hot potato political issues are at stake. I loathe ad hominem attacks whether they are aimed at me or at someone else. At that point, happily, one can always walk away from an online discussion: I don’t enjoy confrontation. I would probably walk away in real life too.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Isn’t it amazing though how many people don’t walk away from online confrontations? Even when it becomes clear that no amount of arguing is going to change the other person’s mind. It’s like this weird sense of wanting the last word, no matter what. ‘Hot potato political issues’ surely have a way of letting personalities come out 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Except those with bullyish online behavior, I think most people are comfortable interacting with others as they normally would, offering the same level of respect and kindness online as they do offline.

    But most people let loose now and then, posting a little rant about work in a place work can’t find them, or less stringently filtering what they say online in general.

    On the whole, I think what you see is what you get. The internet gives us an opportunity to be our genuine selves without fear of rejection. People who don’t filter in real life tend to not filter online, and so on. People who are reticent to speak up in the physical presence of others tend to read, but not comment. But occasionally, the generally silent person will make a bold statement online.

    Those are the posts to look for. The thoughts of those who usually keep thoughts to themselves. They often have insights uncommon to those offered who speak freely online.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I see what you mean, although I’d never really thought about it that way. It’s true that, while I try to be real and transparent in my face-to-face relations, there are some things I just won’t say for fear of offending or discouraging people I love. Online, what you see is what you get, and I do think I tend to post things I wouldn’t say in normal life. I’m the real me in both situations, just a slightly less filtered me online, perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Good question. I’m not sure, though . . . I guess I feel safer keeping a filter on, maybe? Would it be better if that weren’t so, maybe. I know I’m less filtered around the people I feel safest with. But I think the practicalities of interactions with people make those same filters a necessity for everyone to an extent. Not sure if that answered the question, but that’s what I think. . . .

        Liked by 1 person

  5. You have made some valid points. Another observation is that being ‘behind the screen’ gives people an opportunity to preview their words before actually going public with them. In a live conversation we may rush a response, perhaps because it triggered an emotion or because we wanted to appear witty, and end up regretting those words. Being able to compose and review that response beforehand helps us make a desired impression. When you talk to me live you hear the real me; when you read my posts you hear the person I wish I could be all the time. The question then is, which of those two speakers is the ‘real’ me?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You have a valid point cabslantern. I for one, am careful what I post online and often read and reread before posting. We don’t have that luxury in a live conversation. Looking at some comments on Facebook and other Social Media it does become abundantly clear that not all people ‘check’ themselves like this when commenting. Makes for some good read though 🙂


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