Crowd Wise 5a: R u U online?

I first started asking this question long before I entered the world of the web2.0.

It was based on what I'd heard about second-life, way before I even knew teachers taught there, and I wondered if a person could 'exist' in 3D, as an Avatar, ultimately more beautiful and dynamic than their real selves and still maintain their personal sense of identity.   I never really did get into second life, in the end, I s'pose because that question never really went away for me.

Some people believe personality is static, something you're born with and that's that: neither changing nor evolving, not influenced by circumstances or location, no matter where you are or what you are doing.   Others believe that we are constantly and consistently changing in order to adapt to new environments. 

I'm not sure what I believe.

Having traveled all over the world and been part of so many different kinds of societies and real life communities I would be lying if I didn't say that I have witnessed my phraseology, body-language, accents and mannerisms change many times - adapting to fit- and it was hardly surprising to see me evolving once I embraced the culture of the web2.0.

Unquestionably, I'm bolder and friendlier online than I am in person.

Much more likely to approach strangers and say hey and much more likely to "friend" and randomly chat to others than I do in real-life.  In real-life, if we want to be honest here, unless I am in the classroom then I'm the one sitting nursing her glass of wine in the back of the room, on the comfy sofa and the one who goes back to her hotel room early while others sit around to drink 'til dawn - 

Online I tend not to lurk.

And yet...


In life, I love introducing like-people to like-people, adore the thrill of finding someone else in this big fat world who thinks similar to the way I do about a certain subject and boy do I get a kick out of that in my online life. In real life, I delight in having a good philosophical debate, even arguments- a toss of ideas which lead to me learning something brand new / gleaning a different perspective on an issue I might have once felt passionately the opposite about... and of course, we won't even begin to go into giggles I get out of taking the p* out of certain members of the twitterverse, just for the.. the fun of it.

In life, I take risks: try out things which are way too hard for me to really do (like climbing into volcanoes, like riding elephants, like swimming in shark-filled seas)  because to be honest,  I don't really care that much about the consequences...  I just don't really take my self all that seriously (says she the blogger reflecting on her serious thoughts on-line).

Am I different?

Dunno. Dunno.

As above all else, most importantly, in my real-life I don't suffer fools gladly and most surely do not online either.   So how is it that certain things change in virtual realities and other things become more pronouncedly the same?  Why those things?

What do you think?
Are you... U when u're online?


This posting is part of a series, Crowd Wise, and is, in part, preparation for the swap-shop on web based communities at the IATEFL conference in Harrogate, April 8th, 2010.  Your answers, as brief or as in-depth as you'd like to be, is very much appreciated!  To subscribe to all the posts within this specific series, copy and paste this url:  into your reader.  

Note: if you would like to participate in this conversation anonymously, please do feel free to do so.  Alternatively, if you would like to specifically mention an online educational community when making reference to your experiences, adding your group's name and/or its URL, you are most welcome to!

6 Responses to “Crowd Wise 5a: R u U online?”

  • klbuley says:
    March 02, 2010

    I am and I am not. The "professional" part of me isn't really me. It's less than the real me, because I am not as confident on my blog as I am in life. In life, I can walk into a classroom, and talk to teachers, and show them new things and feel like I am really doing something *good* or the feeling that I really know my stuff. Online, I don't get that feeling, so I tend not to be the same personality.
    Now, socially, I am the same. My facebook is the real me, and I'm not ashamed to say it, but professionally: my blog, twitter, and my portfolio, yeah, its way more reserved than I am in life. *interesting to think about*

  • Tyson Seburn says:
    March 02, 2010

    For me, it depends on which online arena we are talking. I'd say for the most part, I'm me entirely, though I'm not sure the me I think I am is the me people who read my Twitter, Facebook and blog voices perceive. I suppose in such short doses, how could I be?

  • Janet Bianchini says:
    March 02, 2010

    Hi Karenne

    This is a great post as usual and asks an interesting question. I think I seem to be much more succinct online than I am in person! I seem to be able to express myself better online and I don't know why this is so.

    However, I am always "me" whichever platform I am on as I usually write what I really think, not what I think I should write, if that makes any sense. Maybe the "me" online reveals far more than I would do F2F.

    It's a case of the written word versus the spoken word. They are two different things. Sometimes the "real" person comes out in written form much more than in spoken form simply because in an odd way, it is a private means of communication, just you and your keyboard. By pressing "Publish this post", in an instant, your thoughts go to the wider world, but by that stage, it doesn't matter. The deed is done.

  • Richard says:
    March 03, 2010

    This is an interesting point to think about. Have you now had the opportunity to meet a number of the people you communicate with online? What are they like in person?

    I'm trying to get going with a blog of my own, but have a fear of sorts, relating to whether I will come across as 'me'. However, as most people out there don't know me, why should I care?

    I'm quite happy with my 'real' personality, my friendliness and sense of humour, it's something I receive compliments about. I think I have a fear of not being able to express my personality in words.

    At the moment, for me, interacting online is a bit like spending time with people whose language you don't speak; you can't be yourself in their language.

  • Saharias says:
    March 04, 2010

    A lovely post, Karenne, I am glad I could have read it.

    Still I shall start my response.

    Very well. Both in my real life and online I am a kind of a perfectionist actor and a person of gentility. Although I must admit that I am more open to people when I am online, because when I am not I'm just a person with a glass of wine speaking out of the crowd, leading arguments on many topics and still somewhat distant and academic person. I wonder why my classmates always vote for me when the chairman of the class is elected, perhaps it is my persuasive abilities and perhaps they are just kidding me. One never knows.

    But later in the post you have mentioned the following fact: -There are things that change and things that do not.

    Well, my opinion is that some habits are deeper in the skin than other and simply would not change so easily.
    If you learn and use Etiquette for several years when you are young, you find it harder to break the rules of it (but that does depend on the personality as well)... Well that is an example of not being any universal example - everyone of us is different and has different natural habits.

    Thank you for reading, I am grateful for having chance to read this and express my opinion (and myself).

    PS: There is one time when I am not a perfectionist actor - that is when I am in love.... which ends up bad :-( (I'm tender but too much predictable that way)

  • Tara Benwell says:
    March 04, 2010

    Hi Karenne,
    Our idiom of the day at EC was "show your true colours". I was inspired by your post to ask our Facebook learners if they show their true colours online. Shared a link to this post to credit you as my inspiration. Thanks for the great question!

    And yes, I hope that I am myself online. The real question for me (someone who spends too much time in front of a screen) is "Am I still myself in person?".



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