You know how everyone used to say that the Internet was this big, bad, scary place, where oddballs and losers and social deviants lurked around every corner, just waiting to sink their claws and teeth into some poor unsuspecting innocent who would believe all of their lies and then meet them in a hotel/buy them expensive stuff/sign over their life savings?
Remember when your friends used to tell you it was "weird" to talk to people online, because there was no way of knowing if the people really were who they said they were? "They could be lying about everything, and how would you know?," your friends would scream. "They could be a serial killer!"
Well, as it turns out, a recent study suggests that those dirty rotten liars might not have been dirty rotten liars after all. At least if they're writing in a blog or other public forum.
Now, granted, this is but one study and the survey sample was small (30 college undergraduates, not exactly paragons of virtue from the get-go). But I found the NYTimes.com story fascinating.
... What it is about online life that makes us more truthful? It's simple: We're worried about being busted.
That is so true. I have thought about that on more than one occasion when I've thought a little embellishment might make for a better story. Fortunately for me I understand the reality of posting things on the Internet - they will be online, in their original form, forever. It doesn't matter if I edit my words, or even delete a page entirely; because of services like Google, the original page is still accessible by viewing a "cached" version.
That realization is running through my subconscious whenever I post on this site, post on a newsgroup, talk to people in an IM or chat, etc. Because while everyone has their own interpretation of an event – stick 10 people in a room and make them interact with each other for an hour and you'll get 10 slightly differing recollections of the same basic facts – if there was any second-party witness to what I'm writing about, if I'm not completely truthful I run the risk of getting called on it, publically.
And that just gets messy.
No way!! Now that's just crazy talk.
Yup yup. I've always thought that most people wouldn't say HALF the crap they do online if they were speaking directly to someone. You can be meaner online. It's like it's okay in some ways to be a total bastard, especially when you can always fall back on the "it's hard to convey tone when you're just using words."
I hate that excuse. Because NO, it's NOT hard to convey tone online. It just takes a little craft and skill and thought.
I believe this, although I'm completely the opposite when it comes to most personal things (my experience having had cancer is the one exception). Other than that, I don't post a lot of personal details or thoughts for complete public consumption, and the details I do share online in IMs or emails are with people who - even if I met them online - have become my good friends.
Although there have been a few times in HT chats where we've all related personally embarrassing stores (like drubnk stories, or ex-boyfriend/girlfriend stories, etc.).
*hugs the Internet*
And I really want one of them there terabyte-sized hard drives.Posted by Highwaygirl on March 23, 2004 09:10 AM to the category Geek Love