Social Question

zweinz's avatar

What is the relationship between anonymity and emotional intimacy online?

Asked by zweinz (63points) April 8th, 2010

People often connect most strongly with anonymous postings, like PostSecret and FML. But how does anonymity affect the impact and intimacy of these postings—does lacking a face make it less genuine? Or more impactful (perhaps because it lets you fill in the face yourself)?

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12 Answers

Trillian's avatar

I don’t believe that actual intimacy online is possible. There is an element missing, and whatever the poster may feel, I argue with the term “intimacy”.
The anonymity relieves us of accountability. It also allows us to let down our guard completely if we so choose, but the lack of face to face interaction and spontaneity removes the accountability factor and thus, true intimacy.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I’m curious about your use of the word “intimacy”. How can you be both “intimate” and “anonymous”? (Disregarding the sense of “intimacy” that has to do with purely mechanical sexual relations.)

As far as I can see, the definition of the word implies closeness, openness and knowledge of each other. You can’t do that anonymously. You can be “honest” and “open” as many of us here are, but we can hardly any of us be called “intimate” with each other, unless we also have relationships outside Fluther.

What @Trillian said.

stump's avatar


Trillian's avatar

@stump Hehehehe! I chose to ignore that….

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@stump I’m still ignoring it.

evandad's avatar

It changes with the questions and the people involved. I feel the liberation of anonymity but I also feel it dilutes the strength of my responses.

stump's avatar

I agree with evandad. I feel more freedom to be open and honest with my responses because of the anonymity. But I don’t think you can be intimate without vulnerability.
@Trillian @CyanoticWasp I lament what has happened to the word impact. It used to be a noun. Now it is a noun and a verb. The line has to be drawn somewhere.

CMaz's avatar

anonymity and emotional intimacy online = role play

Trillian's avatar

@stump Oh, I’m right there with you sugar. I just grit my teeth because it’s considered bad form to correct spelling or grammar. One cannot help but make some type of adverse judgment though, can one?

wundayatta's avatar

Starting from a point of anonymity—is that so different from starting at any other point? Sooner or later in a relationship, there are serious consequences. Yes, it’s easy to share secrets with someone who has no idea who you are or who your friends are or where you work. At a certain point, though, if the relationship progresses, you will start to share that information. You will give away enough to become truly vulnerable indicating your trust of your partner in the relationship.

Anonymity allows you to speed up the initial stages of a relationship. You can share more, faster. Thus you can find out more, and get to that go/no-go point faster. The point where you decide to pull back (or drop it) or to plunge ahead in a more serious fashion. If you go ahead, then you are losing your anonymity as far as the person you are involved with is concerned.

Does anonymity make a relationship less genuine or more so? I’m not sure anonymity has much to do with genuineness. It’s the internet that has the greatest impact. The internet, because it provides so much less bandwidth than real life, leaves much more room for people to fill in unknown details. In other words, more of your partner is fantasy than it would be irl. How much more, I don’t know, because there is also plenty of fantasy in real life relationships. There are whole psychological pathologies based on projection and fantasy and codependency and love addiction and on and on.

Oh dear, I think I misunderstood the question. You’re talking about the impact and intimacy of these postings. I thought that you meant personal relationships because you used the word, “intimacy.”

I think anonymity allows people to say more of the truth about their lives. It allows people to share more intimate details. I don’t think it’s any less genuine. In fact, it’s probably more genuine because people won’t suffer the consequences online that they would irl. And yes, I have found that it has more impact. I have written many things I would never say in any other situation. I don’t know how many pms I’ve gotten from people telling me how I’ve spoken to them and how they appreciate the way my openness allows them to see they are not alone.

It has nothing to do with faces. Faces are irrelevant to true stories about real life. Faces can lie, easily, whether online or irl. What can’t lie is a story. A story always has truth in it. Even stories that lie or completely fabricate lives and worlds have truth in them. I’d go so far as to say that they tell the truth.

Of course, you need to be a good decoder and a good judge of how a story hangs together. But then you have to do that irl, too. In that way, online is no different from rl, except that often there are fewer details.

Anyway, it’s an interesting question. Too bad it wasn’t the question I thought you were asking. No matter.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

yeah, but I have noticed in some there’s more bs and bragging when the real identities are hidden!

@wundayatta “Anyway, it’s an interesting question. Too bad it wasn’t the question I thought you were asking. No matter.”
ahaha! I do that all the time too! or I’ll comment/answer somebody else’s post halfway down the thread!! I’m not such a good decoder! I must be eating too much bread and wheat in my diet!

JeffVader's avatar

I dont believe intimacy is really possible without physical interaction…. & I dont necessarily mean shagging, although that is one option.

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