NOTE: The Fishponds discussion has moved to MONDAY
We seem to be spending more and more of our social time communicating through electronic devices. Increasingly we are meeting people for the first time online – often never meeting face to face.
How do the ways we present ourselves online differ from the ways we interact with people face to face? Why do they differ (if they do)? Which behaviour is a better reflection of our "true" selves?
Is the opportunity to create/explore an alternative identity a good or a bad thing? Why is this easier to do online than face-to-face?
How do you represent yourself on a dating site? In a chatroom or forum? In the world of gaming? On Facebook et. al.? Are your levels of truthfulness different from face-to-face – overplaying the positive and hiding the negative perhaps, or outright lying about your age, health, appearance, level of happiness…?
What does it mean to be "genuine" in on and off line interactions?
If you choose an avatar, what does your avatar say about yourself? Does it represent your true “profile” or is it an opportunity to explore another personality altogether? (The Proteus effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proteus_effect )
Would you say things to people in an online chat or forum that you would find it difficult to say to people close to you in your daily life? Is it easier to “bond” with someone you have never met in person? This can be due to online disinhibition, which leads some people to reveal very personal information behind the shield of “anonymity” and leads others to use aggressive or negative language – it can even result in threats or cyberbullying.
Is allowing anonymity just too dangerous to be allowed free reign? Or is it an essential safeguard for vulnerable people? What if you could only use the internet (or substantial parts of it) as a verified real person? Would that change things for better or worse?
[Maybe call it the "light web" in contrast with the "dark web"? :-) ]
How can we protect ourselves and those we love from Internet predators?
How have our relationships with other people changed due to our close relationships with electronic devices?
In what ways can close on-line relationships with people we have never met affect our face-to-face relationships? What does the appeal of such relationships tell us about our face-to-face relationships?
Are we spending too much time on the Internet to the detriment of “real-world” relationships? There is a label for this now: Pathological Internet Use or Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD)!
So tear yourself away from your screen for a few hours and come for a nice chat with real, live people. You’ll be glad you did!