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Are you different online than you are in person?

Connected or Disconnected, it is a question that many people ask today. The first part of the question comes from the separation of what people now call the real world (IRW or IRL) With the two acronyms meaning in The Real World or real life. First, can I tell you that it makes me laugh that people refer to the world away from online, as the real world? To me, and I realize I did not grow up in the computer age, I was alive before the computer was big, well, that isn’t true. When I was little, computers were not big for homes, but they were physically huge. They filled rooms and basements and entire areas of buildings with a computer that was frankly not as capable of calculations as your smartphone is today.

The reason it makes me smile is that computers and virtual/augmented reality are part of the real world. There is no essential difference between you online and you offline. A good friend of mine at the University of South Carolina (although he is moving to a new job, on a tenure track at a different university) has been working on a study for a long time. It currently helps up in legal, but the intent was to see if people understand that we are in the real world. That what we see and do online, is still part of the real world. There might be situations where we do some level of separation between us and the things online, but the reality is, who we are in the same in either place.

It is easy to get lost online. To dive into the world that exists at your fingertips. With VR/AR, you can even reach out towards that world beyond your fingertips, but it is while part of the real world, no different in the end. There is not IRW or IRL. You are IRL in real life when you type in real life to someone. One of the questions my friend asked several people is how I am going to end my post today. It was a question he first asked a bunch of us about ten years ago. We were all together for a seminar on communication, and he asked this question. It was the basis of his study, and it is one question that I find hard to shake all these years later.

“Do people that physically sit in rooms with you, an nd people that know you online think the same of you?”

  • Question of

    Do people that physically sit in rooms with you, an nd people that know you online think the same of you?

    • Yes
    • No
  • Question of

    Have you ever said something in a private message that you would not say to a persons face?

    • Yes
    • No
  • Question of

    Do people generally look forward to interacting with you?

    • Yes
    • No
  • Question of

    Does civility matter IRL and Online?

    • Yes
    • No

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What do you think?

18 points
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Written by DocAndersen

One fan, One team and a long time dream Go Cubs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

46 Comments

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  1. There is no difference between bring online and offline because essentially it’s the same you. Some people can hide behind their masks online which only shows their other personality side.
    People tend to rely on answers online than offline especially depressive questions.

  2. Now, will the real Doc Anderson stand up! 🙂
    I watched an experiment on one of those reality shows. Several people entered a social media experiment. I think there were ten of them. They all move into this apartment building. Each has their own apartment, with this big screen. They can either be themselves or be a catfish, and enter this chat room type social media project. Three of them were catfish. The prize was 100K. At the end, all but one was found out eventually. It is hard to not be yourself online. The winner was this cute guy who was totally himself. It pays to be real.
    I am who I am, off on on.

  3. Q: DO PEOPLE THAT PHYSICALLY SIT IN ROOMS WITH YOU, AN ND PEOPLE THAT KNOW YOU ONLINE THINK THE SAME OF YOU?
    Yes (7 votes) – 70%
    No (3 votes) – 30%
    Q: HAVE YOU EVER SAID SOMETHING IN A PRIVATE MESSAGE THAT YOU WOULD NOT SAY TO A PERSONS FACE?
    Yes (3 votes) – 33%
    No (6 votes) – 67%
    Q: DO PEOPLE GENERALLY LOOK FORWARD TO INTERACTING WITH YOU?
    Yes (8 votes) – 80%
    No (2 votes) – 20%
    Q: DOES CIVILITY MATTER IRL AND ONLINE?
    Yes (11 votes) – 100%

    • it is interesting – the spit of the poll for question 1 is nearly exactly the split my friend has found so far (68% of people saying that they are seen as being the same online and offline. 32% of people saying they are different).

  4. Based on the very interesting content above, Doc, I have answered in the affirmative, but it really isn’t a black or white matter because there is a certain kind of acceptable protocol, a type of code of practice we are expected to maintain online, whereas offline we have another element entirely called “face value” where body language plays a huge part and ultimately influences or manipulates a politically correct persona, almost at will.

    • yes, the reality is there are differences between the two you’ve captured that well. The study focuses more on the Macro level, do you have substantive differences between the way you behave online and the way you behave offline.

      The perfect example –
      the person that lives next door to you. Greets you, smiles at you every day, and even helps you unload groceries from the car.

      Meanwhile online they are draining your bank account and destroying your credit as a hacker.

  5. Sometimes I it easier to communicate on line but to meet someone in person is another thing.
    Being polite is better than nothing on or offline.
    I am careful but sometimes not aware that someone will add 2 and 2 and make 146 instead of 4. That is often because of cultural differences. On and off line.
    However, a person may show one face to you online and you can have a completely incorrect estimate of them

  6. I’ve noticed that some people do behave differently online than they would do offline, when there is a rather higher chance that their online behaviour would get them punched in the face if they did it offline.

  7. I find no difference in how I interact with others. I’ll give you an example. For about 2 years I worked with one woman in the same place. I thought we knew each other well. We went out with or without occasion as close friends. A month and a half ago she decided to go to work in Austria for more pay. She had more internships in this house than I did – about 4 years. And when we had to talk to the relatives of the lady I work with, how will we proceed in the future. I was unpleasantly surprised. I heard so many lies and words that I was offended. I just had to defend myself. And I continue to work here. With this example, I confirm my view at the beginning.

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