Social Question

Shippy's avatar

Why are we so much more interesting on the net?

Asked by Shippy (9852 points ) December 30th, 2012

On sites such as these, I love to read the questions and answers because I find what people have to say so interesting. To me it seems that people on the net open up more, and share. Their opinions, their ideas and what kinds of things they like to think about.

In real life we seem to be bound by the dance of etiquette, small talk is the order of the day. People are more guarded, less trusting. No doubt because they have no where to hide, like we do. I often wish I could have more interesting conversations in real life like we do here for example and share more of oneself. Does this idea ever cross your mind? Do you think that is why the net has become even more popular? Because in real life this has become unacceptable? Leading to a feeling of alienation.

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33 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

You said it: anonymity.

Our opinions can’t get back to bite us in the ass since no one knows who we really are. So I can talk about being unfaithful. Which might interest some people. I can talk about being bipolar, which might interest some people. If people know who I am, I can’t talk about that stuff because it will damage my ability to make a living or get along with my family.

The simple truth is that in the real world, people judge all the time and hate on each other all the time. In the virtual world, there’s no point, because you don’t know who anyone is. It’s all just stories and no consequences.

Pingu's avatar

On question/answer forums like this one, we are able to take time to draft our responses, and edit them so they reflect our best insight and acumen, before we submit them for public appraisal. During real life conversations, our responses are formed in real time, and we don’t have the time to come up with one or two drafts before we give the best one.

Plus as you and wundayatta mentioned, people tend to be much more self conscious about what they say when not under the cloak of anonymity. Due to fear of judgement, and losing face with their friends if they voice the wrong opinion. I find alcohol tends to help people (read: me) cast off their inhibitions and speak freely and honestly, without filters.

wundayatta's avatar

@Pingu you draft your answers? Sounds like an awful lot of work to me, but if you like it, it’s fine. I just toss off my answers. I never read them over. Just write and press answer. I think that’s another thing I find with anonymity. I don’t have to be attached to doing a good job.

Pingu's avatar

@wundayatta I try to give my best at everything I do.

Shippy's avatar

Not all the discussions thoughts and questions are risque, some are just deeper insights into ourselves or others. It could also be a time thing. Since a lot of people have commitments in their day to day life, and don’t have the time to sit and ponder life, over a cup of tea later on in the evening. I think in the old days we did just that. We would visit, bring over a bottle of wine, or ice cream or whatever and talk. People don’t talk anymore. Most of the interactions are interrupted by cell phones, or requirements that need to be done that day. People seem tired, and worn out with life in general.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

This is one dimensional communication. I don’t think I’m come across as more interesting on here.I think I’m more interesting in person, and most of the people I’ve interacted with outside of the net are more interesting.

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t think I am more interesting here than in real life. I write about a more diverse range of topics and more openly than I would discuss with most people I know and I agree with @wundayatta about anonymity.

wundayatta's avatar

@Pingu Hoo boy! I used to try to be the best at everything. I was raised that way. I ended up with some severe mental health issues as a result. Of course, that doesn’t happen to everyone, but I just think it’s a huge pressure to put yourself under, and not necessary here. It’s ok just to get your ideas out. You don’t have to state them well. If people misunderstand, you can try again if you want.

But we lose when people edit and edit, and then never get back to it and never post it because it’s too much time gone by. There are people I know and respect more than anyone else in the world who do that, and it kills me to think of the thoughts I will never get to know about because of that.

Of course, you do what you are comfortable doing. And you should edit if that’s what you feel good about. But sometimes, maybe you’ll think of my words and decide it’s ok just to throw a thought out there, because you know you might not get back to it to make it as good as you can.

Pingu's avatar

@wundayatta I mean I’m not setting out to win a Pulitzer prize or anything, but I think that if I’m going to take the time to try to answer somebody’s question here, I might as well try to give them the most honest, thoughtful answer I could give. It just goes along with my way of thinking, that anything worth doing is worth doing well. I am by no means a perfectionist; you’d only have to take a glance at my college transcripts to know that!

Jeruba's avatar

We have the opportunity to filter out the dull parts, both our own and others’. And we’re on our own timetables, not trapped in a boring conversation or forced to engage when we’re not in the mood.

tups's avatar

I think it’s because of the mystery. I find mysterious people in “real life” more attracting as well.

AngryWhiteMale's avatar

I agree with @Bellatrix and @Jeruba; I’m not more or less “interesting” here than I am in real life. I also think we can easily jump to the chase here, as it were, and as @Jeruba puts it, “filter out the dull parts”, answer only the questions we like/are interested in, etc. Additionally, there’s a concentration of intellect on sites like these, and I think that enhances the overall discourse, both collectively and individually.

JenniferP's avatar

I don’t tell most acquaintances the things I tell here even though I have known them longer. I also don’t talk about religion usually but do here.

bossob's avatar

For me, being new here, it’s like the excitement of a first date with someone I just met. Only I’m going on a first date with hundreds of people at once! There’s so much to learn about others’ life experiences and knowledge and interests. I can choose to be a good listener, or I can jump in and direct the course of the conversation. I can withdraw to my private space to reflect and renew at any time, without being rude, or I can be a know-it-all motormouth without being boring. Best of all, I don’t have to waste my money trying to get you drunk!

And being married, a first date in real life isn’t going to happen.

rooeytoo's avatar

I just want you to know that I am equally as effervescent, scintillating and entertaining in real life as I am here. Perhaps even more so. If you don’t believe me, just ask my dog!

gailcalled's avatar

I love the idea that I can present a monologue without all that boring back-and-forth.

burntbonez's avatar

I don’t find people more interesting here. I’d say they are equally interesting here or in real life. The difference here is that people are more accessible. Everyone who comes here wants to engage in a conversation. At a cocktail party, it’s not always the case. Some people don’t want to be there. Some people are boring. And some people are interesting. The trick is finding the interesting ones and getting them to talk.

That’s not the trick here, because pretty much everyone wants to talk. And you can quickly see who the interesting people are and engage them if you want to, while ignoring the people you don’t particularly what to talk to. Not that I have decided those things yet. I’m still like the person circulating at the cocktail party. I haven’t really spoken to anyone yet.

hearkat's avatar

As a socially awkward person, I find that I am more comfortable when I am not face-to-face with the other person. I don’t have to worry about seeing others’ reactions or being interrupted before I get to express my complete thought.

I do take the time to think my responses through, and try to proofread before I submit it. My extemporaneous speech isn’t as well composed, so I might ramble while trying to think of what to say or how to say it. You don’t see that process online (although the Fluther bubble that tells you I am writing a response is a bit of a giveaway)..

Besides, I don’t think that I come across as “interesting” online. Perhaps experienced, insightful, and helpful – but not “interesting”.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Whatever, I’m so much more awesome in person. ~

mazingerz88's avatar

It does seem that people might be bolder in making statements in the net compared to how they may say things in person but at the same time I feel there are still the not so very few that would say things out there exactly as how they would post it in sites like Fluther. For example…me. Right now, I couldn’t think of anything that I posted here that I would hesitate saying in front of any of my friends or co-workers. Well, maybe my parents, yes. And the morality police-? : )

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I know that. I feel that. : )

Sunny2's avatar

I do better when I write what I think instead of trying to speak it. I can edit at will and rewrite. It’s usually expressed more fluently. That doesn’t mean I don’t talk about my opinions. I do. It’s just easier here.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

I think you are right. I think people are more interesting on the net because we have a computer monitor to hide behind and if things get too hectic we can just log out for a little while or even forever if we choose. But in real life we usually have to encounter the same people quite often, whether it’s relatives, friends, co-workers, etc. and we can’t just log out. The only way to escape seeing some of those people is suicide or homicide. One and/or both of those options can seem so appealing sometimes. LOL And just like @Sunny2 says I believe I can express myself through writing better than speaking and the same is probably true for many others.

Symbeline's avatar

Probably because with how online works, even going to the bathroom can be made to look like an epic adventure.

Paradox25's avatar

It’s not anonymity, and I’ve had my real picture on here and on other sites quite frequently. It’s just that I can’t talk about philosophical or science related issues around people who have much different interests than me. I don’t just post on fluther either.

SABOTEUR's avatar

I consider many of my thoughts to be “excess baggage”.

Held too long it becomes clutter.

Fluther is like a thrift shop I can donate many of my thoughts to. People can pick through them, take what they want and discard the rest.

Occasionally, I’ll pick up a new thought that someone else donated.

I walk away with a clean slate and/or a new perspective.

I don’t know how interesting this makes me, but it sure works wonders on my mental health.

Response moderated (Obscene)
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Shippy's avatar

^^sigh! why do I always miss the obscene bits? sulks

burntbonez's avatar

I could attempt to recreate them for your viewing pleasure.

Don’t worry. I won’t.

rooeytoo's avatar

@burntbonez recreate them in a pm, I always miss them too and then wonder who it was and what it was. I wonder if it had something to do with, nooooooooo, it couldn’t be that again!

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

@Shippy Me and you both! I want to see “Obscene”!

RareDenver's avatar

I’m boring everywhere, especially on the internet

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