This week in class, we talked about how the Internet disinhibits people, and how this can be a good or bad thing.
There are many factors to this disinhibition, and again, none are inherently good or bad, each having pros and cons. All of them, essentially, boil down to some flavour of detachment.
Sometimes it’s around the self: you’re anonymous, you’re invisible, you can keep your emotions guarded.
Sometimes it’s around the other: you can be less worried about negative reactions, you can’t see them, and oftentimes the limited view you get of someone through social media gives you a simplified idea of who they are, a “character” that can exist in your imagination.
Our prof went on to say that, of course, which psychological phenomena you end up using depends on things like personality, cultural values, and even which social media you use. For example, you’re more likely to show your face on Instagram than, say, Reddit.
But we’re all online, regardless, and taking part in this game.
So it got me thinking: am I detached from my online self?
I started creating under the Fairything moniker earlier this year, after using other names I either didn’t like or had to abandon for safety reasons.
Already, there’s a detachment. I, Alex, had to delete and remake most of my social media because of stalking and harassment. It’s a long story, but that’s the relevant part.
Fairything, however? She’s fine. Nothing bad happens to Fairything, who just came into existence one spring afternoon and started doing her thing. Fairything is a bundle of joy, of energy, of vibrance.
She’s definitely a character. I try to keep myself sincere and honest, but she’s definitely a character, whether I like it or not.
As we went over solipsistic introjection, I wondered if I was quietly contributing to that. Did people have their own little Fairythings in their heads, funhouse-mirror versions of me that never stopped smiling?
I hope not. I really, really hope not. If people are going to know me, they’ll know me warts and all, you know?
And I’m not saying I’m a celebrity or anything. Definitely not.
The fact is, you probably do solipsistic introjection with so many people you see online. I know I’ve probably done it with, like, old high school classmates I still have on Facebook.
If you’ve ever looked at a post from that girl who bullied you in high school and thought, “Ugh, she’s just posting that because she’s vain and annoying,” congratulations! She exists as a character in your head.
And again, there’s nothing abnormal about that. Everyone’s a player in the disinhibition game. It’s just a matter of how you use it. Will you use anonymity as a confession booth? To become a shoulder to cry on? To hand over anonymous donations?
Or will you just doxx and stalk and swat people?
The choice is yours to make.
I for one will try reducing my disinhibition as much as I can, at least in spaces like this. I have nothing to gain from cutting loose on a public blog that I’m doing for school. I will seen, and I will be as much like my true self (whoever THAT is) as I can.
Now, I’m off to add some social media to my about page.
Until next time.