If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything. ~ Mark Twain
There’s a warm, fuzzy feeling I get when research backs up what I already knew.
Over on PsyBlog, the latest news is a recent study showing that “overall people were remarkably honest in representing themselves” on social networking sites (i.e. Facebook). I’d like to see the study repeated over a larger, more diverse population sample (the researchers used only 236 US and German students), but I’m gratified to have another piece of artillery to use against the naysayers who assume everyone on the Internet is lying about who they really are. Because there are some who think that I’m nuts.
See, it’s safe to say that just about everyone I currently know (other than my family, of course) is someone I met online. Some of these people are my dearest, closest friends – even though some of those I’ve never met in person or only seen a couple of times. (Come to that, there are some members of my extended family I’ve never met or met rarely, but interact with online.) Across the board, the ones I have met in person have aligned precisely with their presented online persona.
But even when I tell people how consistently positive my experiences with online friends have been, the listener still at times seems shocked that I so readily trust and grow close to these online buds. Hopefully this new study will shed some light on it: you actually can really get to know people without “properly” meeting them.
Of course, this isn’t to say that one shouldn’t still be careful. As with any community, the Internet barrel has its share of bad apples. Don’t hand out all your intimate details to others. If you’re going to meet an online friend out in the Real World, use sensible precautions: meet in a public place, bring a friend with you. Etc. I have met a couple of people whose presented Real World identities matched their online personae and who still eventually turned out to be misrepresenting themselves… any guesses why we’re no longer friends?
And there lies a big part of the reason why I don’t wear a mask whilst safely tucked behind the anonymity of the Internet: it’s exhausting and the truth, as they say, will eventually out. Anywhere you meet me online, I’m going to have the same username (assuming it’s available) and the same personality, for a few simple reasons:
- Why would I lie? Being myself is too much fun. And if you really can’t stand me as myself, I want no truck with you, anyway.
- I have enough going on in my life without having to log in to a given site and think, “Okay, who was I here, again?”
- If we really hit it off, we might want to meet in person one day. And then I’d have some ‘splainin’ to do. Who needs the aggravation?
So if we ever do meet in person, you might know me immediately, even if you’ve never seen my photo. Yeah, I really am this insane and geeky out here in the Real World. Fun, innit?
(Speaking of geeky: The number of this post is 42. Heh.)