In my last post I spoke about the changing attitudes towards the psychology of web-users in how they use the web.
The existence of online trolls is just one example of how people may believe they are in fact more protected and anonymous in their actions online than they truly are, which we may call Online disinhibition effect (1) or even the “Gyges effect”, first mentioned by Plato (2).
“Look at me. I’m a middle aged man with a limp and a wheeze and a son and a wife that I love. I’m not just a little avatar of an eye.”
‘Quote from a man to his online abuser, in person(3).’
Because of instances such as this, it is important that if we do seek to use the web as a forum to escape from our real identity, that we remember to keep it legal, and remember that our anonymity can be compromised.
However, people also may seek to use an online identity to protect themselves from online data harvesting and tracking:
In light of the above one might say that a decision should be made before you even set foot on the web:
‘Should I keep one real identity of myself online and only act in ways I would be happy for my future employer to observe, or do I take measures such as splitting my identities, and/or the use of a VPN (3) to hide any actions I undertake online that I would not be happy to have shared publicly?’
For many people that do use the internet for social or non-professional aspects, the former option may simply be too restrictive, to the point of ironically defeating one purpose of the web as being a digital location where people are free to discuss matters anonymously that they may not, in the ‘real world’ (See ‘Benefits of Virtual communities (4)).
I believe from this that the question is more one of how much we are willing to sacrifice online for our freedom to privacy outside the web. If we are a digital ‘Visitor’ this may be less of an issue, but a ‘resident’ must be aware that if they choose to wear a ‘mask’ online, that it could prove to be more damaging in what it represents, as a need to hide something, which in itself may be misconstrued, than simply portraying yourself ‘truthfully’ as your employer would like to see you.
1. Online disinhibition effect:
2.Ring of Gyges, Plato:
3. Traynor’s Eye blog post:
3. Virtual Private Network Wikipedia definition:
4.Benefits of Virtual Communities