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Web psychology

Психология сети

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To be or not to be…a real person?

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Imagine you’ve just started a new job; it’s day one, and you’re getting acquainted with your colleagues. You introduce yourself as Joe Bloggs, though in reality you are John Doe. Joe Bloggs is your nickname on the Internet — that’s how you introduce yourself on the web. At some point, you stopped being you and became someone else. Or, perhaps, nobody?

The impact of IT technology on our mental health is much stronger than commonly thought. Even when away from computers, many people are thinking about their life in the Net, about the communications they’ve had under their pseudonym with users who are also retaining their anonymity. And at some point, virtual reality may prevail over reality, and Joe Bloggs may overtake John Doe.

Using an alias liberates you—you are free to share your inner thoughts and hidden desires without fear of being recognized and met with derision. If a person who uses an alias is mentally mature and healthy, leading such a “double life” will not harm their psyche, although it can affect it. But if a person has aggressive inclinations, the struggle between reality and virtuality acquires a painful form and can lead to tragedy. In this fight, Joe Bloggs inevitably wins out over John Doe.

How does this happen?

There are three forces involved: the real person – his/her virtual image – the Internet environment. These forces begin an invisible struggle with each other for the right to dominate. As a result, they live alongside each other within a person, but the “virtual” side is already prevailing. The consequences of this are very similar to those of dissociative identity disorder, a known psychological and psychiatric phenomenon when two or more distinct identities are present in an individual.

Dr.Web recommends

Often, people use nicknames when contacting Doctor Web technical support. These anonymous requests contain abusive words with regards to the company, and its products and services. Everything that would normally never be expressed by a real person is considered acceptable when hiding behind a mask. Is this normal?

Besides the benefit—the ability to communicate from a distance, without any fear of being criticized—using nicknames may have negative effects, and may sometimes invisibly cause mental problems. Isn’t it better to remain a real person?

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