It’s often said, usually by extroverts (my enemies) that “The Internet is not real life.” This is typically followed by a deriding of people who have “Net friends” and whatnot. Supposedly these are not “real friends.” According to this rule, a person is not a “real friend” unless you meet them in real life.
It’s also said that people play all sorts of roles on the Internet, and you never know who is who or what is what. According to this line, the shyest person on Earth can shed his skin on the Net and become the greatest Social Actor that ever trod soil. And on and on with many other examples.
This theory is wrong on so many levels that it’s amazing that extroverts, who pride themselves on being superb social actors, would even bother to parlay such a brain-dead theory. Yet they do.
Which adds weight to one of my theories about extroverts. Extroverts are like race car drivers who don’t know a thing about car engines. They just know how to use one. Otherwise, they probably don’t know a piston from a spark plug. Extroverts simply know how to maneuver the complex dances of human social interaction.
Do they understand the basics and essentials of human social interaction, as in psychological understanding? Not really. Most extroverts prefer to operate subconsciously, and if you bring up motives, reasons, why and how or the word psychology, most of them freak out, get angry and pretty much order you to change the subject.
The entire arena of motives, rationales, human psychology, and even the rules of human interaction are off-limits to extroverts. Have you ever tried to discuss social rules and social skills with an extrovert? It doesn’t work. The whole subject makes them very nervous. They are great at it, but they don’t want to talk about it, or I guess really think about it too much. This implies once again that their skills operate on a near unconscious level.
First of all, yes, there are sociopaths on the Net, and yes, the Net is great for role-playing and game-playing. However, the % of persons doing such things on the Net is rather small, and most doing such are just criminals anyway.
I’ve been on the Net for 11 years now. I spent a lot of time in chatrooms. In fact, that used to be what I did practically all day and all night. Chatrooms are a lot of fun! Now, according the theory above, chatrooms are full of a bunch of loser idiots, probably all introverts who’ve never had a date in their lives. They are putting on their fake extrovert skins for some jerk-off fantasy in the chatroom.
That theory is so, so wrong. After over a decade chatting on instant messengers, in chatrooms, in comments on blogs, in emails, on voice chat, in voice conferences, on video conferences, on and on, one thing is clear to me:
People act just the same on the Net as off!
Just as a logical, reasonable person would assume, right? I’ve been in introvert chatrooms. It’s amazing that they even exist. Everyone sits around, and no one really talks much. You get a lot of one word and one sentence answers. Just as you might expect! People are extremely hypersensitive and get their feelings hurt very easily. I know some serious introverts who absolutely hate anything having to do with chat on the Net, such as instant messengers and whatnot, to the extent that they absolutely refuse to use them.
After spending a lot of time in chatrooms, I found that those rooms were overwhelmingly populated by extroverts. What do extroverts do on the Net? Go to the Net equivalent of a wild party, of course!
In chatrooms, back in the old days anyway, most people just were whoever they said they were. Women acted like women and men acted like men. Girls acted like girls and boys acted like boys. People pretty much acted their age. Nowadays, chatrooms are full of scammers, spammers, camwhores, scamwhores and spamwhores, so things are quite different.
One amazing thing is that if you talk to someone for a pretty long time, their entire personality starts to shine through the chat. I mean everything. Nice people are nice in chat. Mean people are mean in chat. Sensitive people break down in wild tears in chat (usually a woman – I’ve made many a woman cry in chat). Angry people are angry chatters. Funny people make jokes while they chat. Irritable people have short chat tempers. Moody people (almost always a female) are all over the place in chat.
One theory is that the most introverted people are the wildest chatters, I suppose to make up for their loneliness. Forget it. It’s the extrovert who’s always talking to 2 or 3 people at once.
Add in voice and now you are talking on the phone, more or less. That’s a Hell of a lot more intimate. You quickly find that the personality you met in chat is precisely the personality that shines through on the phone.
Add in video and things get all that much more real. Now you can hardly hide a thing, especially if you have voice going at the same time. The only difference between that and real life is you can’t touch the person. On video too, the same old chat personality comes through, often with a lot more force and subtlety. But I’ve never met a Jekyll and Hyde who was one person in chat and another on video or voice. Forget it.
Many folks nowadays are having Net relationships. Most everyone seems to deride these relationships, especially extroverts who think they are utterly ridiculous. Well, I would say that it’s better than nothing. And extroverts have quite a few Net relationships. It’s just that they want to meet the person pretty soon afterwards. If they can’t, it sort of peters out. Introverts are more likely to go along for a while in a long distance thing.
Quite a few people have fallen madly, head over heels in love with their Net friends.
It’s hard to say that “this is not real.” I remember one case, 8 years ago, where a woman and I fell in love on the Net somehow. I don’t know how it happened. She was from Thailand, and she came to me on Yahoo Messenger one day, and soon we were madly in love. It wasn’t anything anyone planned. It got to the point where we were talking up to 8 hours a day on this thing. Now think about it. That’s way more than most married couples talk to each other. How can you say we didn’t get to know each other in all that time?
I agree that there are serious problems with Net relationships, but Hell, it’s better than nothing. You can even have cybersex. Lots of people are doing this. With voice chat, you can have some kickass cybersex! Add in video chat, and now you can have some really, really cool cybersex!
It’s kind of hard to find, too, because women are not so willing to do it. Quite often you will be talking to a woman on cam, and she starts suggesting that you remove your clothes and give her a show. That’s kind of fun, but you’re basically jerking off for a female audience. But getting a woman on cam to disrobe is another matter altogether! Just as in other areas of life, women just don’t give it up so easily.
I don’t agree that only losers who can’t get laid do this. Like with everything else we’ve talked about in this piece, it’s probably like attracts like. The people video cybersexing all the time are probably sex addicts in real life. I knew one guy who was a sex addict. He was sort of bisexual, and he had tons of sex with his wife. In addition, he was a swinger, but he kept that from his wife. Every time I talked to him, all he ever talked about was sex. This guy loved cybersex, especially the video kind, and he did it as much as he could.
There’s often the comment that once you meet the person in the flesh, you will find out that they are completely different, but I seriously doubt it.
I guess the moral to this story is that people don’t play roles as much as we think they do. There are those that do, but that’s getting towards a Super Social Actor or even a con artist. Most people aren’t like that.
Try as we might, we really can’t escape from the ultimate albatross around our necks: our personalities. At the end of the day and no matter how hard you try, you look in the mirror and you realize that there is no escape from You. You can’t stop being yourself.