Is hiding behind online screen names creating split personalities?

Most of you reading this have access to the internet whether it be mobile, desktop or tablet and I can safely assume that you have at least one social network in the form of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and many others.

The world has come a long way technologically, specifically in how we interact. The days of long walks on the beach, coffee at the local café and touch rugby after work have been replaced by meetings on Skype, pokes on Facebook and Smart TV’s. Whilst we are happy and proud of where humanity has come from, there is always an ugly part of progression that we don’t like to see.


The social media sphere has created what I believe are split personalities. Netizens log on and slur others in derogatory ways or even express themselves online much more than they do in person (offline). While there is absolutely nothing wrong in expressing yourself, do you think there is a problem when your online personality is completely different from your ‘offline’ personality?

It’s a topic of debate I have wanted to raise for a while. Personally I have met people and have friends who are one person “offline” and a completely different person online. I don’t think these people are psychopaths but I want to explore this area. Are people more comfortable online? Does their imagination takeover online? Or is there more confidence to hide behind a username knowing that whatever you say will go unpunished?

This is how Planet Minecraft explains it, “What do you think of your online self? Are you energetic, frantic, responsible, trollish, or silly? In any case, most people act differently online than in real life. It’s nothing to be ashamed about: it’s simply the way the internet works on you. You see, while online, you generally lose some inhibitions you have in real life, such as manners and shyness. Maybe you are very shy in real life, but while online you feel like you can put yourself out more. The loss of manners causes trollers and flamers to take advantage of their anonymity to start flame wars and make rude remarks to people…”

…As described by Wikipedia“In internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”

Based on the above quotes, it is clear that most people find solace behind an online screen name. It is a place where people can explore their imaginations, vent their anger, fight with others, meet new friends and forge relationships. However, are our online selves completely ok if our “offline” selves are completely different? Is there meant to be a consistency between personalities or is it ok to get lost in the internet?

6 thoughts on “Is hiding behind online screen names creating split personalities?

  1. I think people enjoy having one personality displayed on the internet for others to see. And I honestly think its for attentions. People love attention and if it means having a different persona to who one really is in real life, they go for it.

  2. This is so true. I could say that there is a generation of people that don’t understand the digital space and therefore this turns into fear. I think this is just a case of a user wanting to create security around them.

    There is a lot of integration is happening in this space and soon hiding behind some screen name will fall away. So we often say that there is nothing you can hide in this space, sooner or later things can be traced back to your true identity.

  3. I don’t necessarily agree with the split personalties angle that you are taking on this. In my opinion, I believe that people are an extension of who they really are on the internet (but because of society, they find it to be difficut to be the same in real life as a result of the kind of person everyone else thinks they are). The web creates a platform for people to be more confident in expressing their views, feelings and emotions by virtue of the fact that no one can pysically see them. Once we add the physical element of our existence, certain prejudices start to kick in which limit the credibilty of the person expressing their views.

    For example, if I am what is conventionally considered to be a “nerd” (becuase of top academics, lack of athletic ability and social skills etc,,,). The day I tweet about Lionel Messi not deserving the Ballon d’Or, or laying down game on some ratchet in te cluurb, you are more likely to take my comment seriously if you just knew me through my online presence

  4. The greatest thing about being on social media or having general online presence is the ability to create an illusion of your choosing, it may seem delusional but it’s a great escape for most. As long as you can own up to everything you publish online even when your offline, I don’t see anything wrong with having “split personalities”… because ultimately, you are what you post!

  5. Concept of split personalities has many angles – some do it to hide real identities, others do it to boost confidence levels that are lacking in real life, while the rest do it because they can. As I have come to learn with the digital space, there does not appear to be a wright or wrong answer. The hope is that people apply their minds first.

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