In the previous lecture, we spent a large portion of time discussing the creation of one’s own identity on the internet and how drastically changed it can be from the identity they have in person. This is something that provides the basis for a lot of arguments people have been having for many years. Personally, I play a lot of video games and spend close to 3-4 hours a day under a “different” identity. No one I played with really knows who I am and no one I talk to knows what I do on a daily basis. It really is a whole new way for people to see me. Whether or not I am extremely similar to the way I am in person is for other people to decide, however, the ease at which identity changes can be accomplished is quite astounding.
There are two sides to the equation when it comes to having an alternate identity. There is quite obviously the negative side, which almost every child has heard stories about growing up. Child predators and the like tend to use the Internet to their advantage. ABC did a great article about how people can never really know who they are talking to online. It is really way too easy to hide an identity. A teen in MA had become friends with a couple in New York, and without really realizing who the person/s he was talking to were, he got into a situation he really didn’t want to be a part of. Another person in the same story came into contact with a sexual predator she thought was her friend. These kinds of things are the very negative side of something that I think has just as much of a positive influence as well. (http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=130735)
Now, back to the nice side of things. There are plenty of people who benefit from having the ability to become a new person online. Something as simple as being able to goof around with people and not having them judge you in a game to something as serious as a person who needs help but is embarrassed to ask for it. Before the internet became extremely popular, people had to go in person to get any kind of psychological or medical help they needed. However, with the ability to have a different identity online, people feel much more comfortable asking for help and solving their problems behind a mask. The ability to hide your identity really is a double-edged sword. Plenty of websites are used for anonymous help. Things like crisischat.com and blahtherapy.com can really help to assist people with their issues. A great article written on Blah Therapy does a great job of explaining the situation. People really don;t like to admit weakness. The internet allows them to do that without having to show their weak side. Even on the fun side of things, the amount of times I have been playing a game and ran into someone who made me laugh while talking to them, but in reality, I really had no idea who they were. ( http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/05/02/feel-like-venting-to-a-complete-stranger-try-blahtherapy-com/)
I think after looking at both sides of the argument, only one thing can be said for certain. There is no way to believe everything we read online. As much as we may want to, there will never be a guarantee that what we are reading or what we are seeing is real. I really enjoy thinking about being able to be a completely different person, but the fear of running into someone who isn’t there for the same innocent intentions is always something that will sit at the back of everyone’s minds. Overall, I think it really is up to the person using it.