General Question

wundayatta's avatar

Do your real world and online personalities differ much?

Asked by wundayatta (58738points) December 12th, 2008

I feel like mine does. I feel much more confident online than in the real world. I’m willing to take more risks, and tell more truth. Online, I can show off more. It is mainly because there are no serious consequences if people hate me.

In the real world I hide things. I only talk about the good or safe things I do; never the bad things. I don’t talk about my problems (except to professionals). I’m most just trying to get along without getting killed, and without finding any attention, and without angering anyone.

I hear that one of the problems for people trying to find a partner through dating sites is that everyone exagerates their profile. I think I’m no different. I exagerate myself. Not intentionally, but when I review the stuff I post, that’s what I think has happened.

What about you? How much do your real life and online personalities differ, if at all? How would you characterize any difference or similarity? How would you explain the difference or similarity?

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28 Answers

augustlan's avatar

‘I yam what I yam’. No matter where you find me, what you see is what you get. The only difference I can think of is that I don’t flub words as much online. In real life I tend to talk faster than my brain wants to work…often resulting in amusing non-words like ‘gool’ (good + cool).

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

Nope. I would imagine that anyone who knew me and read my responses would say “Yepper. That’s our Sueanne. Margaritas, vibrators and all.”

Nimis's avatar

I’m much more “talkative” online than in real life.
Though it’s a difficult comparison because here all you’ve got are words.
There isn’t much of an option for wordless interaction and subtler nuances.

To answer the question though…
If you knew me well in real life, I’m pretty much the same online.
If you didn’t know me that well in real life, the differences may be surprising.

jrpowell's avatar

I’m a obnoxious drunk online.

I’m a slightly less obnoxious drunk in real life.

coffeenut's avatar

I’m nicer online

bythebay's avatar

Augustlan took my line! As soon as I read the question I thought of Popeye and his famous catch phrase. I’m pretty much the same no matter where you might encounter me. If anything I bite my tongue much more on line than in real life.

windex's avatar

what is this ffff…rrr..i…..e…n…..dd….

syz's avatar

My personality is probably somewhat exaggerated online. I’m more reserved in public, less inclined to share private information, less confrontational. But it’s pretty much me, just more so.

elchoopanebre's avatar

I’m almost identical to what syz says.

Knotmyday's avatar

Me, without all the silly songs, funny faces, and constant brain fartage.

tyrantxseries's avatar

I make more sense online(more or less), but then I can’t type worth shit.
I’m not so forthcoming with my illness or my views on it offline,
other then that I’m almost the same person(also I’m more of an asshole offline)

90s_kid's avatar

nimis…i agree with you….i am known for being the quietest kid in class but on the computer i wont stop typing

Foolaholic's avatar

I’m usually a bit quieter online than in real life, because it takes me so long to type anything. Also, I’m trying to cut down on the amount of swearing I do, so when I’m online I reach for British swears instead, mostly because they sound a bit nicer to me than American expletives, but also because it’s just a lot of fun to call someone a tosser.

Nimis's avatar

Hmmm…maybe that didn’t sound right then?
Because I’m not really quiet in real life or anything.
Well…I am, but I’m not. Eh?

I think I was just trying to get at the idea of how people
perceive you online is mostly constructed through words.

Inevitably, people seem more “talkative” online
because it’s structured around an exchange of words.

SuperMouse's avatar

I’m pretty outgoing in real life, but I think I am more bold online.

Trustinglife's avatar

With my closest friends, I am plenty honest, bold, and verbose.
In groups, however, I can be much more reserved and shy, hiding what I really think. Fluther has been an awesome place for me to practice being bold and verbose – in a group.

So those closest to me would probably see me as the same online, but those not as close would learn quite a bit about me!

cdwccrn's avatar

What you see is what you get. I’m pretty much the same on or off line.

wilhel1812's avatar

as coffenut said, i’m nicer online

Allie's avatar

I’m pretty much the same. I think…

wundayatta's avatar

THis is so interesting! Most people don’t think of themselves as being very different. I makes me wonder if maybe I’m exagerating my feelings. I guess it’s not that I’m different as a person. The real difference is in what I’m willing to say.

In real life, there’s a lot I won’t talk about. Here, I make myself talk about everything, even the things that I know people will shame me for. I can say that I’m a wimp, scared, an adulterer, bipolar, a failure, or whatever else I need to talk about here. I keep up a front in real life. I keep secrets in real life.

It hurts to keep secrets. I can’t share what I’m really concerned about. I can do it here, but this isn’t the same as rl. No one can see me choke up. No one can see me slump. No one can see me cringe in front of my wife, or pretend that I’m not hurt by whatever criticism she has thrown my way. I guess it doesn’t help that I read criticism into everything. Well, that latter trait is something I brought online.

I pretty sure a lot people see this, and treat me with kid gloves, as a result. I don’t think that happens in rl. On balance, though, I have no idea where the online me and the rl me meet.

augustlan's avatar

I really feel like the less distance there is between the ‘real’ me and the ‘idealized’ version of me, the closer I come to true balance and happiness. << That hard earned wisdom comes from years of therapy. It may not be time for you to let the ‘real’ you emerge…you’ve got to be in a strong and stable state of mind before you can do that. That said, I think it’s what everyone should strive for. It is an enormous relief!

Trustinglife's avatar

@Daloon, I’m inspired by how you make yourself talk about everything here. It’s one of the things I practice on here: being bold and revealing. You are a great model of that for me.

I still hold back here. I’m afraid of what people will think of me, probably more of people forming a judgment about me that I won’t be able to hear about – and then they dismiss what I have to say. That’s what I try to avoid. It’s easier to just say nothing sometimes. I want to be respected and held in high esteem here, and although I can’t really control that, I do choose what I say and what I don’t.

Like in the “what are you most ashamed of” question. It’s not that what I could say is so bad, on balance. But I noticed fear come up, and decided to pass on answering that question.

But generally, I consider my involvement here as practice in putting myself out there and seeing what happens. Thanks again.

wundayatta's avatar

@tl, It’s like practice for me, too. And I, too, wanted that respect and esteem thing. I was on Askville, and I thought I worked hard to become respected, and even needed. But every time there was one of those stupid high school questions like who is the best Askvillian of the year, I never saw my name appear. It was extraordinary how crushing that was, and how it messed with my psyche. I pray that no one ever asks a question like that here, so I can not have to think about it.

Being at Askville was actually unhealthy for me. I think it’s because of the culture over there, although a part of it had to do with become bipolar about six months after I go on the site. Another part of it was that I got to be too intense in some relationships there, and that just make me very unstable.

Coming here, it seemed, oddly (because of the large number of high school and college age folks here), more mature. Maybe it’s the moderation. Maybe it’s the assumption that people are adults and adults swear occasionally. Maybe it’s the absense of some kinds of rules and incentives that make Askville a place where just about everyone had some kind of complex.

I guess there are some things that are better not to know. While it matters to me that people like me and respect me, what matters even more is fully being me. I think I tend to squash too much of me into hidden closets.

I think what Augustlan has discovered is very important. It would be interesting to know how her therapy helped her achieve that. There’s an awful lot of fear I carry around. I always worry at work when they are going to discover how little I do (since I spend so much time here), and fire me. I worry that I will say to much of the wrong things one time when I’m manic. When I worry about things like that, I can’t enjoy myself. But my mouth runs away with me all the time, and it is so painful to have to be watching myself, and trying not offend.

I never mean to offend, but a lot of times I will say something that will offend, unless I keep my editor going. I worry that I take up too much time, in any group I’m in. As you can see. I have a lot to say. Give me an audience, and I could jabber on for hours. Give me an audience and the freedom to me me—the absolute certainty that I’m not going to offend or hurt anyone and make them hate me, and I’ll jabber on for days!

And the other thing: I’m so fucking lonely! Oh God, that sounds so pathetic and perhaps even unbelieveable, and maybe it goes hand in hand with not being able to be myself. How could I not be lonely if I’m not myself? Which, of course means I do it to myself, and that makes me shamed, and blah, blah, blah—I could be talking myself into depression before your very eyes.

I have been doing so well, too. I’ve even been happy in the last few days! Maybe it’s too much for me. My eyes are starting to water now. My back is starting to hurt. I want to be loved. Held. Something.

My wife is gone to help with her mother, but even if she were here, I don’t know if she can understand. She’s also scared. Job. Economy. Her mother. Our son’s learning disabilities. Me. It’s a huge weight on her.

At group we had a CBT psychotherapist give a talk about CBT, and one of the things he said is that writing is important to help you get yourself better. I’ve been writing like hell for 18 months. Maybe even six to eight hours a day. All in little bursts. All in response to questions.

Yup. I’m getting depressed. I can tell when the “I suck” thought appears. If I haven’t been attacking myself, I will be soon. The thought occurs in the back of my mind “you could stop this if you want. It’s not too late.”

I argue back at myself, “No, if I try to stop it, I might make it worse.”

“Just stop writing now. Just do something. Make dinner. Get some exercise. Play your horn. You know you need to practice, anyway for the Messiah.”

“I can’t play now. I’m too sad to play. I want to be sad.”


“What? Are you crazy? You want to be sad?!?”

At this point, I have no idea which part of me is talking to which part.

“Hmmmm. Maybe it’s part of an artistic process, eh?”

“As if! Are you making lemonade here? Indulging yourself?”

“What if I am. I don’t get to anywhere else.”

“You’ll end up with no credibility. Everyone will know the games you plan.”

“No, that’s hitting below the belt. This is not a game. It’s a fucking blow-by-blow report about the interior of our brain.”

“Our? You finally admit that we are me?”

“I always admitted that, even the first time Harp suggested it. It was what I wanted to hear. It’s just hard to reconcile. We seem to fight each other. How can I fight myself?”

Go ahead, it was your thought.”

“The fear about being boring?”

“Oh come on, you know that’s it. Stop being coy about it! You’re a fucking wimp, always thinking about them. Be a man! Speak for yourself!”

“They are getting an eyeful, aren’t they? I’m sitting here, watching myself think, reporting these thoughts, which are kind of metathoughts.”

“Metathoughts means something different now, doesn’t it? It’s not just thoughts about thinking, but thoughts that explain thinking. No one can organize a large volume of material, if they don’t have metadata. So what’s the metadata for a brain?”

“Maybe you should ask fluther?”

“Those neuroscientists—maybe they’ll jump all over it.”

“Maybe I will.”

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I’m not too different. The only thing I can think of is that it probably seems like I’d talk a lot in person, which isn’t the case. I’m generally a very quiet person. As for what I say, reveal or joke around about, I’d say it all in person, too. There was a point, once, when I wouldn’t have. But more and more I just don’t care what anyone thinks about me.

augustlan's avatar

Off to look for Daloon’s “metadata” question!

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

A little bit, I think I’m much more approachable online. Now, I have met several people in person I previously knew only as online personas and just one of them turned out to be different, not in a negative way, just much more reserved. Also, online I will share some experiences I’d not share with family or co workers.

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