So I was chatting with a friend tonight and we discussed, among other great topics, the internet “self.”
I’m sorry that I can’t voice myself well yet, but I’ve only just started writing. Maybe I’ll take some classes if I decide I like it and get the hang of it.
So what does that even mean really, ‘The Internet Ego?’ Well, basically, my friend and I came to the conclusion that we have our “real self” in this world, and then we’ve yet another “cyber self” that we use on the internet. Now I’m sure I’m not the first nor the last to think about this or even discuss it, I just want to weigh in.
In a nutshell, the ego we use for our daily (off internet) lives is much different than the one we use in cyberspace. It makes sense actually. We’ve got an entirely new medium (relatively new) that the world is using to keep in touch. This new area, this new play space is powerful and enticing. It’s growing and changing, and we are all new too it. The longest anyone has even used the internet, in a similar capacity to what we know now, is about 20 years. That means most people are still teenagers when it comes to internet use!
So we know there is a massive social network nowadays with things like facebook and twitter and reddit, that’s a given. But what we don’t see (or what we chose to deny) is that we have a different mentality when using the internet, specifically, these social media sites. We put on a different mask before using them, even more than that really. We utilize an entirely different ego while surfing the internet. It probably started solidifying around the anonymity of the internet. People previously afraid to speak up were suddenly able to, behind a wall of anonymity. Then social networks got big and it gave us a new playground.
However, unlike the playground at school, this playground had less social barriers, the feel of anonymity, and more that allowed us to react to each other in a different way. Not only was it instantaneous, but it was global, while feeling smaller since we are right in front of our computers all the time. So, in essence, we reacted differently to the same situations. Being bullied has taken on a new meaning, speaking about someone we don’t like is easier, etc. Not only that, but there’s also the fact that nobody can ‘sense’ what we are saying and understand the nuances behind it. If we say something sarcastically, only people who really know our other “self” understand that we are being sarcastic, everyone else can’t understand our true meaning. It’s pretty easy to see that this causes many problems.
So if you find yourself having trouble on the internet, try to remember that you’re using a different ego for it. If you aren’t, then maybe that’s why you’re running into trouble.