Author Topic: Dis-inhibition Online  (Read 3469 times)

Certain Hope

  • Guest
Dis-inhibition Online
« on: June 12, 2008, 11:05:55 AM »
From John Suler's The Psychology of Cyberspace     http://www-usr.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/download.html


Note ~  I have not searched the site to determine whether or not this topic has surfaced before, but it looks to me like quite a valuable read, in which others may also be interested.

Here are some excerpts from the specific theme of The Online Disinhibition Effect

It's well known that people say and do things in cyberspace that they wouldn't ordinarily say or do in the face-to-face world. They loosen up, feel more uninhibited, express themselves more openly. Researchers call this the "disinhibition effect." It's a double-edged sword. Sometimes people share very personal things about themselves. They reveal secret emotions, fears, wishes. Or they show unusual acts of kindness and generosity.

On the other hand, the disinhibition effect may not be so benign. Out spills rude language and harsh criticisms, anger, hatred, even threats. They can start their own website where what they think or feel reigns supreme. Or people explore the dark underworld of the internet, places of pornography and violence, places they would never visit in the real world.
On the positive side, the disinhibition indicates an attempt to understand and explore oneself, to work through problems and find new ways of being.
And sometimes it is simply a blind catharsis, an acting out of unsavory needs and wishes without any personal growth at all.


And one phenomenon which I think is quite enlightening:

It's All in My Head (solipsistic introjection)

Absent face2face cues combined with text communication can have an interesting effect on people. Sometimes they feel that their mind has merged with the mind of the online companion. Reading another person's message might be experienced as a voice within one's head, as if that person magically has been inserted or "introjected" into one's psyche. Of course, we may not know what the other person's voice actually sounds like, so in our head we assign a voice to that companion. In fact, consciously or unconsciously, we may even assign a visual image to what we think that person looks like and how that person behaves. The online companion now becomes a character within our intrapsychic world, a character that is shaped partly by how the person actually presents him or herself via text communication, but also by our expectations, wishes, and needs. Because the person may even remind us of other people we know, we fill in the image of that character with memories of those other acquaintances.

As the character now becomes more elaborate and "real" within our minds, we may start to think, perhaps without being fully aware of it, that the typed-text conversation is all taking place within our heads, as if it's a dialogue between us and this character in our imagination - even as if we are authors typing out a play or a novel. Actually, even when it doesn't involve online relationships, many people carry on these kinds of conversations in their imagination throughout the day. People fantasize about flirting, arguing with a boss, or very honestly confronting a friend about what they feel. In their imagination, where it's safe, people feel free to say and do all sorts of things that they wouldn't in reality. At that moment, reality IS one's imagination. Online text communication can become the psychological tapestry in which a person's mind weaves these fantasy role plays, usually unconsciously and with considerable disinhibition. All of cyberspace is a stage and we are merely players.

When reading another's message, it's also possible that you "hear" that person's words using your own voice. We may be subvocalizing as we read, thereby projecting the sound of our voice into the other person's message. Perhaps unconsciously, it feels as if I am talking to/with myself. When we talk to ourselves, we are willing to say all sorts of things that we wouldn't say to others!

Certain Hope

  • Guest
Re: Dis-inhibition Online
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2008, 02:38:35 PM »
We're Equals (neutralizing of status)

While online a person's status in the in-person world may not be known to others and it may not have as much impact as it does in the in-person world. If people can't see you or your surroundings, they don't know if you are the president of a major corporation sitting in your expensive office, or some "ordinary" person lounging around at home in front of the computer. Even if people do know something about your offline status and power, that elevated position may have little bearing on your online presence and influence. In most cases, everyone on the internet has an equal opportunity to voice him or herself. Everyone - regardless of status, wealth, race, gender, etc. - starts off on a level playing field. Although one's status in the outside world ultimately may have some impact on one's powers in cyberspace, what mostly determines your influence on others is your skill in communicating (including writing skills), your persistence, the quality of your ideas, and your technical know-how.

People are reluctant to say what they really think as they stand before an authority figure. A fear of disapproval and punishment from on high dampens the spirit. But online, in what feels like a peer relationship - with the appearances of "authority" minimized - people are much more willing to speak out or misbehave. There are those online that turn every disagreement into an "attack" and they can pick & choose what they want to hear and see and tune out anything that doesn't agree with their philosophy or way of thinking.