I use my Facebook very often throughout the day in order to chat with my friends, plan events and projects with the student organization that I am the leader of, see what is going on in the world, and to check in with my family members. It is a lot easier than driving all the way to a friend’s house or the Rutgers campus in order to communicate with everyone. Some people that I send a message to do not like it when I initiate the conversation or try to communicate with them without having ever met them offline. Others are happy to chat with me, get to know who I am, and continue the friendship like we know each other in real life. Through my daily use of the social media website and experience when text chatting with friends I discovered a few unique personalities pertaining to those using the chat system.
(image from http://blackberryempire.com/)
In my Communication Theory course last semester, I wrote a paper analyzing Facebook chat and the several personalities which form on it. There were five or so unique personalities and each one was based on how often the communication took place, how long the “friendship” lasted, how the sender demonstrated themselves, and how the recipient viewed the sender of the messages. I gave each personality a unique, creative name, but at this point I only need to state the obvious: people who use Facebook can have, and most likely do have, an online personality that differs in some way from the offline.
(image from http://vendyxiao.com/)
So why does this seem to happen to the majority of users? Well, perhaps it is due to the lack of nonverbal cues and the ability to change who one is with the click of a button or swipe of the mouse. Or maybe the online world allows for more freedom, which, in turn, allows users to be who they truly are. The Gibbs and Mendelson articles discuss the reasons behind changing oneself when involved in the digital universe and also analyze online profiles and the photo albums stored and shared there. They offer a lot of reasoning behind the rampant altering of one’s personality and image, but I honestly believe that no theory or conclusion can ever explain it completely. When it comes to all things digital, everyone is still learning how it changes and affects them, but the technology is changing so rapidly that the morals, and social rules pertaining to how we behave socially, are unable to keep up.