Are you more “real” online or in person?

Who hasn’t been tempted every once in a while to be a little bit of something they usually aren’t? A little bolder, better, more opinionated or clever than we might appear in our everyday lives? I remember prank phone calls being a typical middle school way to get into a little mischief and “be” someone else.

I also recall hearing that drivers sometimes act more aggressively behind the wheel than they might in person. There’s something about the anonymity of being surrounded by glass and operating a powerful machine that gets a person revved up.

But what about the anonymity, or just the virtual distance, of being online? The internet seems to offer up the perfect forum to enhance or alter yourself a little. In Screenagers, girls talk about how they touch up their Instagram and Facebook photos before they post. Witty retorts in group texts or in social media comments can also earn you positive social media points.

In video games, players often create an avatar, which is their character in the game. You create your avatar’s look and choose your avatar’s accessories, weapons or car, for example.

And texting isn’t usually anonymous, but even when recipients know it’s you, the medium can embolden some people to behave differently than they might in person.

Here’s some food for thought to chew on with the family this week:

·      Have you ever texted, emailed or made a social media comment that you would not say in person?

·      Have you received texts, emails or online comments that you think wouldn’t have happened if you were face to face?

·      Are you a different person in different online settings — more outrageous, more reserved, sillier, more serious, more confident, more attractive?

·      What do you think about creating an online persona that’s different from your real-life personality?