Electronic Anonymity

Machoman2282: Hey u. My A/S/L is 25, m, New York. Check out my profile pic:

man 25.JPG

If you really know me, then you know I’m jk. However, DBEYR in chat rooms because the identity of a person differs between the real and virtual worlds.

Let’s explore an extreme result that occurs when people change their identities online. 1 in 5 children are sexually solicited online. This fact cannot be ignored. Out in cyberspace, people are creating new identities on instant messaging chat rooms with such screen names as ginty77, milw_male2002, and cal_xicano130 to gain pleasure by preying on children and teenagers (Warning: Clicking on the screen names will link you to Perverted-Justice.com, which will reveal graphic IM conversations of these actual sexual predators). In the real world, these people could be seen leading normal lives. They may go to school, hold a job, or have a family to look after. On the other hand, in the cyber world, these online predators take on a totally different persona. Now, it’s impossible to profile a person as an online predator because they can be anyone. Let’s not forget a recently famous case involving former Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL). He resigned from Congress after he was found writing sexually explicit messages on AOL Instant Messenger to a minor. I have presented an extreme case so I can show easily how our identities are different between our real lives and our virtual lives. But what causes such a dichotomy between these two worlds?

A new field of study called cyberpsychology may help to provide some answers. Psychologist John Suler believes that a virtual identity “gives people the opportunity to focus on and develop a particular aspect of who they are. It may even give people the chance to express and explore facets of their identity that they do not express in their face-to-face world.” In other words, feeling less inhibited while chatting online, I am more likely to be able to tell someone to shut the hell up when, in reality, I would never do such a thing when talking with someone face-to-face. So does this mean that our virtual and real identities are separate from each other? Well, according to the article, “Self in Web Home Pages: Gender, Identity and Power in Cyberspace,” Dr. Gergen asserts that "with this confluence of changing conditions [e.g. technological and social], it becomes increasingly difficult to determine precisely what the contents of the psychological self may be, what actions constitute their expressions, where and when they occur, and what social purposes may be served by one's continued belief in such occurrences."

With the internet deeply rooted in our everyday lives, we have the ability to express ourselves in new ways, which creates a virtual identity for ourselves. However, we are now responsible for what we say on the internet as well as what can be said to us online as well. Because the Supreme Court protects electronic anonymity, people can feel less inhibited online and speak their minds in many ways—good or bad. Should the gap between the real and virtual world be closed a little by forcing people to show their real identity in online chat rooms? WDYT?


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Posted by: Maki
Posted on: July 1, 2008 04:06 AM

I am adding it to my favorites to come back to later

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very, very interesting article.

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