Who’s writing this?

November 27th, 2016

I apologize for the wait! Here are some thoughts spinning off of the discussions of online communities and identity.

An interesting thing I noticed while reading “The Online Disinhibition Effect” was the name of the journal that the article was published in: CyberPsychology & Behavior. Seeing “cyber” and “psychology” meshed into one word was strangely thought-provoking. The oneness of the words seems to suggest the merging of two fields when psychology and behavior must be examined in context of the Internet. That is, the term implies that a different set of psychological norms must be applied when examining people’s behaviors in a virtual platform.

Interestingly enough, a search on the term cyberpsychology brings up many articles relating to depression, FOMO, internet addiction, and compulsive internet usage. It appears as though the usage of the Internet, and social media platforms in particular, is recognized as being harmful to one’s mental well-being. However, even when these negative associations are so well established in academia, people continue to grow and expand their social media usage. In my opinion, this phenomenon could be explained by looking at how Internet usage influences people’s emotions in the short-term vs. in the long-term.

Speaking from personal experience, I find that much of what I participate in online is driven by a desire to gain access to information that are traditionally private. That is, the publication of private information on a public platform satisfies my desire to “look into” others’ behaviors in a private domain. Immediately after reading status updates or pictures, I feel like I have “gained” something – knowledge about how others spend their time or perhaps a sense of inclusion. I can easily see how the short-term fulfillments can become so addicting, mostly driven by our desire to blur the lines between what’s private and what’s public.

In the long-term, however, repeated themes in social media posts lead to a desire to not only be on the receiving end of information, but also to be the one posting and sharing information. This, I believe, is what drives the depression, FOMO, or addiction cited in many articles. It is precisely because we see so much of something, that we begin to feel like we have to jump into the conversation by reciprocating something of our own. And when we are unable to reproduce pictures or posts that adhere to what we see, we begin to feel different or out of place. The internet, I find, magnifies all the tiny details because as Suler touches on in his article, the asynchronicity of communicating online allows us to examine the fine prints of others’ lives in comparison to our own.

One Response to “Who’s writing this?”

  1. Mike Smith said:

    What wonderful insights, Rita. I hope you enjoyed writing these blogs. It’s been a real pleasure having you in class and getting to know you. You’ve engaged with the material and related it to your own life. We couldn’t ask for more. I look forward to seeing you around campus. Please stay in touch!

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