Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

What is the difference between your real world self and your virtual world self?

Asked by wundayatta (58357 points ) February 26th, 2012

We’ve had questions like this before, and many people say they are the same in both worlds. But for those of you who are different, how are you different? Why do you think you are different in the virtual world?

I am different. I say many things in virtual reality I would never say in reality. I would never talk about my love life in reality. I don’t talk about my mental illness in reality. I don’t really share the depth of my political views in reality. I do not share my philosophical thinking nor my spiritual experiences in reality.

Why? I think people would shun me or laugh at me or both in the real world. They’d think I was crazy, and no one would take me seriously. I need to make a living and I think that my views would make me come across as unreliable and irresponsible in reality.

In the virtual world, where I am anonymous, it doesn’t matter. You might think I’m crazy, but you’re more likely to be entertained than threatened. You can’t take my job away because you don’t know what I do. So you don’t have to worry about me. The virtual world is like an alternate and separate reality. Safe for people to be who they really are.

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32 Answers

Bent's avatar

I’m more outgoing online than in offline and more likely to share things I wouldn’t necessarily share in the real world.

Blackberry's avatar

I’m more willing to call someone out online. I guess one could call me a coward, but if Rick Santorum were at my work place running his mouth, I would most likely roll my eyes and not say anything.

The internet is also a place for me to discuss things I feel I can’t in real life. I had one person who I could actually talk to about anything from philosophy to politics, and he had to leave because it was time for him to be stationed somewhere else.

So in reality, one would probably have no idea I’m an adamant freethinker and super liberal, and would most likely assume I’m some nice guy, Well, I am, but sometimes online I’m not.

ragingloli's avatar

I am quite prone to uncontrollable fits of unabated rage, where I kill everyone in a 20 metre radius.

KateTheGreat's avatar

I’m definitely a lot weirder and outgoing on the Internet. In real life, I am normally pretty shy and quiet.

Earthgirl's avatar

There are more than 2 versions of me. My real world self depends on how open I choose to be.

At work my public self is careful not to espouse any damaging opinions. By damaging I mean something that could hurt my image in a way that my professional standing would be compromised. I keep many private things private and I don’t feel a need to ruffle feathers or spout unpopular opinions. I just try to have integrity and get along with people. It is actually more interesting to hear other people talk more than to divulge what I feel on every subject. I have had true friends art work that I trust completely and it is only with those people and with my family that I am more open.

On the internet I want to be more open. I want a chance to say what I think and the hell with the consequences. I do have passionate opinions about things! Yet I still don’t really like to argue with people. I want to share, learn and understand. Maybe if I was less aversive to conflict I would be more open. Still, I am much more open than I am in real life.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I’m pretty much the same in virtuality as I am in reality, asside from not eating or defacating or urinating or… !

thorninmud's avatar

Until recently, I had three very different jobs, all at the same time. At each of those jobs, not only were my duties different, but the social structures of the organizations were quite different and my status in the workplace was dramatically different. I would finish working one job where I was at the bottom of the pecking order and did all the dirty jobs, and go directly to another job where I was a heavyweight with near absolute authority.

In each of those environments I was what I needed to be. And that looked quite different in each setting. I wasn’t playing roles, I was just responding to the situation. That was all very instructive to me. It schooled me well in the provisional nature of “me”. It would be impossible for me to say that one of the three “me’s” was more real than the other two.

The same goes for Thorninmud on Fluther. This “me” may be a bit different, but it’s just the shape I take in this environment, no more or less real than any of the other shapes. In answer to the question, to which other shape should I compare it?

ninjacolin's avatar

I never took ninjitsu. :(

cookieman's avatar

I’m the same except in two areas:

1) I have a temper in real life. Not so much here.

2) I’m much better looking online.

hug_of_war's avatar

In the virtual world, I’m much more open. I find it easier to walk away instead of talking back so much, I talk about my interests a lot more (breadbaking and spanish mostly), and I can mention my disabilities (asperger’s and low-vision) without worrying it will haunt me like it does in real-life – especially as an unemployed person desperately trying to get any job.

Jude's avatar

My girlfriend describes me as having a “quiet confidence”. I’m not in your face about stuff, in fact, I’m overly polite.

Jude's avatar

I love this question and I’d love to hear more from other jellies.

linguaphile's avatar

I work at a cutthroat place and for a long time, to protect my psyche, I was an extremely quiet, observant, seemingly cold and reserved person who did not talk to anyone unless necessary. As a teacher in front of the class, I was more “myself”—that is, friendly, chatty, interactive, understanding and open, but as soon as the last bell rung, I went into a sort of hiding and only opened up with certain coworkers. I often come across as a bitch, I’ve been told, but it’s more to protect my uber-sensitive feelings than anything. I’m also often seen going 100mph because I put a lot of projects on my plate.

This year, I guess my sensitivity isn’t where it used to be… I finally don’t give a FF what they think of me so, I’m more friendly but still very observant, reserved and still crazy-busy.

Online, I am far, far more my real self than IRL—I’m not sure how I come across on Fluther but I think I’m much more relaxed and can say what I think more often. I’m still careful, but not clam-mouthed. I truly do love interacting with people, learning, sharing and making friends and can do that freely here. If someone doesn’t like me, they don’t have to acknowledge me, but not seeing their dirty looks or eye-rolls is a big plus.

Last, using technology/the internet is a great equalizer. I have no language barriers except my own intellect or ridiculousness online. I own my own words here, for better and worse :)

Jude's avatar

I’ll explain the overly polite bit.

jonsblond's avatar

My real world self is very outdoorsy and active. I can’t sit still.

My virtual self is a bit lazy because, you know, I’m sitting my ass down in front of a computer.

Haleth's avatar

@wundayatta “I am different. I say many things in virtual reality I would never say in reality. I would never talk about my love life in reality. I don’t talk about my mental illness in reality. I don’t really share the depth of my political views in reality. I do not share my philosophical thinking nor my spiritual experiences in reality.”

But you mentioned in the other thread that you have tons of friends online, and few IRL. Maybe being open is helping you connect with people online, and it would help you in the real world. Everyone has a private emotional life, and sharing/connecting with someone can be meaningful and strengthen friendships.

Of course, there’s a difference between sharing and burdening. It needs to be a give and take, where you share information bit by bit, together. One of my friends whines about her relationship with her boyfriend all the time, how it’s not going well but she doesn’t want to leave him, blah blah blah. That’s burdening. But we share and reinforce our friendship when we both talk about our mutual interests or goals for the future.

^ The difference between my online self and my RL self is, I’m very tactful in real life. I would have found a tactful way to tell you that you should be more open with people. The opinions would be the same, but I would phrase them differently.

Part of it is probably that I’ve always worked in retail/restaurants, where diplomacy solves everything. Of course, there are fewer consequences in a discussion online. I often find myself arguing with someone in one discussion and agreeing with them in another. I think people are more likely to brush off a disagreement online.

ucme's avatar

When talking/socialising with people in the “real world” I tend to talk with my mouth instead of typing on a keyboard & stuff.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

I have achieved zombie state in both worlds.

Facade's avatar

I’m pretty much the same.

CaptainHarley's avatar

In my opinion, most people who consciously make their avatar say or do things the real person wouldn’t say or do is trying to resolve issues in their life. Perhaps they are trying on different personalities to see how they fit, or perhaps they dislike something about themselves and what to see if they can change it.

newtscamander's avatar

I’m really impatient when online. And also easily stressed when multiple contacts write at the same time…and I am more humourous and secure in the real world, because I can see my conversational partner’s reactions and I can be sure to know if they want to communicate with me.

downtide's avatar

My virtual world self is better looking (points at avatar). Aside from that there’s no real difference.

wundayatta's avatar

@Haleth Given that since I have discussed my mental health issues with my old college friends, I haven’t heard from a single one of them in at least a year and that I know the attitudes of my family towards people with these kinds of issues, I’m not going to be opening up any more.

I guess it’s a context thing, as I see others saying. Fluther is like my “crazy” support group. Everyone is crazy so no one feels a need to try to shame anyone else all that much. It happens, but not as much, I think.

@thorninmud I’m not saying the virtual world is any less real than the real world. I’m just using the term “real” to mean “physical” world, I guess, as opposed to the virtual world we inhabit through our computers.

thorninmud's avatar

@wundayatta I understand. I just meant to say that even the physical world me is a fluid affair, changing with circumstances, so that there’s no fixed offline me to compare to an online me. A particular offline me may be more similar to the online me than to the way I am in some other offline circumstance Jesus this is getting confusing

I even find that how I am on Fluther shifts from question to question in a subtle way. Each one is a different circumstance summoning up a different mode of interaction.

wundayatta's avatar

@thorninmud Feel free to parse it out as much as you care to. It’s always interesting to see how people think they change from circumstance to circumstance. Perhaps your observations will make those of us who think we are dramatically different in the virtual world compared to the real world rethink the way we see ourselves.

saint's avatar

No difference except the face in the avatar.

Mariah's avatar

One of the main differences – and one of the main things I like about discussion on the internet – is we skip the meaningless small talk. No, in real life, I don’t immediately start telling people about my missing organs or agnosticism or my adoration for calculus. That kind of conversation doesn’t happen until I know a person pretty well. But I also really love that kind of conversation. Sites like Fluther provide a forum where that kind of conversation is appropriate without first wading through hours of trivial social pleasantries.

Blackberry's avatar

@Mariah How’s the weather where you’re at? Do you have any pets? Did you see American Idol last night?

thorninmud's avatar

@wundayatta So my first post talked about the compartmentalized nature of my offline life. I don’t go out of my way to partition off these different aspects of my life—they’re not “secret”—but I fully accept that my self is contingent on context. The demands of these different contexts are different, so I need to bring different tools to bear. Which tools I’m using will effectively define how I appear in that situation.

Fluther’s sphere of operation is actually quite broad. The questions range across most realms of human experience. So context here is pretty much defined by each individual question. Unlike in my work or family life, I don’t fill any particular office or have any prescribed function here. So I walk, metaphorically speaking, among all these contexts/questions, looking for ones that I may have the tools to address. The variety of my life experience has left me with a pretty diverse set of tools, and I have found all of them useful at various times on Fluther. Sometimes the pragmatic rationalist tool set is needed. Other times, the transcendent mystical tool set is better suited. The Fluther community has seen more of my tool kit than, possibly, anyone in my offline entourage for this reason.

wilma's avatar

@thorninmud I love getting a peek at your tool kit.

Clair's avatar

I really feel like I’m very similar in both worlds. The biggest difference that anyone can access the internet and I’m a pretty paranoid person so I’m very particular about what I share online. As far as avatars go, I hardly ever use pictures of myself because I would have to take them and that makes me uncomfortable.

Plucky's avatar

Much more outgoing and open online. I tend to make more sense in written word than spoken as well. My core self is not different though. I am the same person in both worlds. I’m just more socially normal online – and odd statement but true.

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