Social Question

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Why are people so forthcoming with the most intimate details of their lives on the internet?

Asked by The_Compassionate_Heretic (14611points) August 31st, 2009

I read a lot of stuff that is deeply personal. Things they say they don’t tell their significant other or family yet they will often spare no details when it comes to strangers online.

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35 Answers

PerryDolia's avatar

They believe they cannot be traced or identified. This makes them feel they can expose personal details without the information ever being attached to them personally. They view the personal info as impersonal when transmitted over the net because they think they are invisible.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

Because it’s anonymous. Plain and simple. You can’t “log off” in real life.. nor can you backspace, delete or edit response.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Online is not anonymous.

That’s an illusion.

rebbel's avatar

You mean like when i revealed that i’m 3.5 inches?

I compare it with being easier/quicklier open about my personal feelings when i meet strangers in a bar for example.
It’s not that i have problems with telling those to my girlfriend, not at all, but i remember that when i went out more regurlaly, i was quite open to people i just met (okay, slightly intoxicated i was, i admit).

Darwin's avatar

The illusion of anonymity pretty much does the trick for most people. You folks aren’t real because no one can see you. Thus, it doesn’t matter what is said (or sometimes how it is said – some of the things folks say on the Internet would result in homicide if said face-to-face).

Jack79's avatar

Because you think you’ll never meet the other person. Then when you do, it’s too late already because you’ve told them everything about you. Weird stuff. But I like the internet for that.

Resonantscythe's avatar

@Darwin‘s got it.
Even if people Can find out who you are, most won’t and/or aren’t interested in doing so.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

Perhaps they are lying. Didn’t Dr. House teach you anything?

Or, if they are not lying, then they feel free from repercussion on the internet.

Sarcasm's avatar

Because the chances of ever encountering you in real life are incredibly slim.
And then one day you run into someone you know from the internet and say, “Small world huh” and chuckle and walk away

Grisaille's avatar

You are just words, all of you. Swirling in the land of pixels and vanity. You are not real.

That is what people subconsciously think. When I engage in intelligent, open debate online, I am not fighting against a live human being. I am in a game, and the game is throwing thoughts and contradictions my way. It becomes less so a conversation and more so a puzzle.

chyna's avatar

Because the people in your life can and do use your words against you. The faceless, nameless people on the internet, in most circumstances, do not do that.

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t really say much more on the internet than I would in a face to face.

Jack79's avatar

@Grisaille hey! I’ve got copyright on that opinion! :P
Nah, it’s ok…Besides, a bunch of pixels such as yourself could never steal my ideas.

So let’s see how Lynne feels now that I know all of her intimate secrets (including how many words her last essay at university was mwahahahaha…)

DominicX's avatar


What do you mean it’s an “illusion”? If you don’t give out your name, then you are anonymous. Hence the term. I have given out my real (first) name, so I am not anonymous. I share things on here that I’m uncomfortable sharing with people in real life because there is something less embarrassing about communicating through text with people you don’t know to telling people in person you do know. And like others have said, the chances of meeting someone you talk to exclusively on the internet are slim.

Grisaille's avatar

The anonymity of the internet is an illusion in that everything is trackable, hackable and such. Everything can be linked back to you.

YARNLADY's avatar

What’s the worst that can happen? There are one or two jellies who live in my general vicinity, and they have seen my picture here, so if one of them should happen to see me, out of the million or so other people who live here, what are they going to do? Well one of them will probably point and laugh, but so what?

Darwin's avatar

Since I point and laugh when I see myself in the mirror, how bad can it be when another Jelly does it?

Supacase's avatar

The internet may not be truly anonymous, but the chances of anyone here wanting to track me down and make a deal about something I have said online is slim. Although I may not want to share everything I have done with all of the people in my “real” life, I have not done anything that is going to get me in trouble. Embarrass and shame me, yes, but nothing I can’t overcome. So, on the off chance that some imaginary internet acquaintance wants to hack up my life, they aren’t really going to accomplish much.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@DominicX Beneath the surface of the internet, we leave a trail of information that gives us away.

wundayatta's avatar

So what are you, @The_Compassionate_Heretic? Big Brother? Some kind of sleuth? Tracking down those nefarious jellies?

Come on. Did you ever watch Geraldo? Jerry Stringer? People say stuff on TV, where they are identified by name, that is much more shameful than anything I’ve seen anyone admit to here. There’s nothing here that is so juicy the paparazzi just has to figure out who it is. As far as people who have the skills and access to track anyone down—will any of them care to do so? People have better things to do with their time.

Besides which, can you track down Tom Sawyer? This stuff is primarily fiction. Who knows how much is even vaguely related to real life. It’s just soap opera, and, I’m afraid to say, poorly written soap opera. No offense.

srtlhill's avatar

#1 I can turn the Internet off after reveling something personal.
#2 if I choose to revel something embaressing I don’t have to look you in the eyes.
#3 if I don’t like someones response I can avoid you in the future without expaining myself at all. Try that with family.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@daloon I’m not sure how I’m supposed to take that.

No, I’m not data mining. I’m here because I enjoy being here.

skfinkel's avatar

It must feel comfortable, to speak and be heard and have no lasting effects. When I was about 12, a woman on a train told me everything about her life. And then she got off, unburdened by all those facts and stories. It was like an intimate friend for a few hours.

J0E's avatar

Anonymity is not an illusion. True, we leave a trail that can describe what kind of person we are, even what are name is or where we live, but the true anonymity lies in the computer screen that separates us from truly conversing. Being forthcoming into a text box is a lot different than flat out telling it to someone in real face to face. Why do you think people can say what they mean better in a letter than a phone call?

wundayatta's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic My point is that there really is no reason not to be forthcoming if you are anonymous. Sure, the FBI could figure out who you were, but why would they, or anyone else, bother? I seriously doubt that any terrorists are spending their free time here.

People need to share the details of their lives. This is especially so for the details they can’t talk about with anyone else. This is very therapeutic.

Sorry. I thought you were asking rhetorical question.

DrBill's avatar

People like when others take notice of them and pay attention to them. I have asked people some of the most intimate details of their lives and they tell me readily, without hesitation and in full blown detail.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

To some of you, you have no idea who I am. I could spin a yarn from here to the moon & you’d never know the difference. But there are others who know who I am. Not in the flesh, but they know. Know my name, address, cell phone number, etc. And I know the same about several people, too. We’ve talked on the phone. I call & have been called.

I think what I like about talking to someone on here is that they LISTEN. And I listen to them. Sometimes RL people just don’t want to be bothered. You can see their eyes glaze over. They jump in with a comment that has nothing to do with what you’re talking about & you think “why bother?” I have spilled my guts to someone on here & I know that I’ll be listened to. No judging or criticizing me. And I’ve listened to this person, too. We trust each other. Besides keeping confidences, even if we DID tell, who would know us? Who would care? It’s safe.

tinyfaery's avatar

I find that people are a lot more forthcoming in general these days. People (strangers and acquaintances) tell me all kinds of things. I think the days of keeping one’s issues and problems inside is coming to an end. People find connections and solace in knowing that their suffering is shared; it’s humanizing

benjaminlevi's avatar

Because even tho I am not truly anonymous, I am not important enough to stalk

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@YARNLADY: another who lives near you would probably offter to buy you a sandwich at a local sub shop and perhaps introduce you to his mother ;)

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic… the internet is anonymous as a general term… sure.. someone could find out my isp, track down who owns it, do a search on all my nicknames.. probably figure out who I was… but as a general statement.. it’s anonymous..

Perhaps you are a stalker, what do I know?

augustlan's avatar

I’m not any more forthcoming here than I am in real life. That is to say, I will spill my guts to just about anybody!

Saturated_Brain's avatar

On one hand, I’d be mortified at the thought of people I know reading the stuff I put on here.

On the other hand, I then just think to myself, “Well, what I’ve put on here is me.” Those who come here and see me say things I’d rarely say in real life will then start to know who I really am. Facades are off, and what they get is the person beneath the skin (mostly, there’s still some stuff I’m wary of putting online [don’t ask =P]). So if they can’t accept me, then it’s just as well, for we probably wouldn’t be good friends in real life anyway.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I speak on here the way I do in general – at least you guys get to take a break from me, my husband doesn’t, :)

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