Give a man a mask and he will reveal his true self
I chanced upon this quote long ago, and it had since grown on me. If you’re curious why I used it as a point, it’s because I believe that this particular phrase applies very well to the headline we’re discussing about.
Offline, we are pretty much bare. Naked. Not physically naked maybe, but naked in the sense that we are judged and recognized in public.
Online, we could choose to cloak ourselves. Many websites offer anonymous options, and most of the time your user name won’t be your real name (unless you’re really, really self-assured. Or… you could be a plain idiot using the internet for the first time).
Much of the stuff we desire to do, but don’t do offline is because of one primary reason – we would be judged and subjected to certain forms of counter measures, depending on our actions taken. However, the online dimension practically scraps that veil away, revealing a border that lies just between common sense and insanity. When online, nobody is going to be able to judge you, recognize you or even berate you. Online, you’re a shadowy figure, who’s free to do pretty much whatever he wants. It’s also why you’re so reluctant to fight back against the school bully offline, but so eager and willing to defame him online.
You see that quiet kid in the corner of the class? Yeah, him. Did you know that he’s actually been behind a series of online attacks against the school? Yeah, he was anonymous at first, but the school managed to track him down through the I.P. Address. You don’t believe it? Yeah, I didn’t too. I mean; he’s just so quiet.
Quiet people are scary. Not the regular kind of quiet; more of the kind that does not say a word even if he’s being forced to do something. Why scary, you ask. Well, think about it. Every person has a breaking point. Some people choose to fight with other people to vent their anger; some choose to argue; some even take it out on inanimate objects. But quiet people do not do anything conspicuous, even if they were actually full to bursting with anger inside. To them, something that raises attention would be detrimental to their entire being.
Luckily, there’s the Internet, where they wouldn’t be exposed no matter what (or so they believe). Online, they could be whomever they want. Online, they could talk all they want. Online, they could vent their anger, with nobody the wiser.
What does it feel like to be someone… different?
A person might be a real nice guy in school – good-looking, smart and all-around likeable. Yet offline, he could be the worst jerk you ever meet – a total asshole, rude and all-around hated. You wonder why.
The answer’s simple – think a game, where you complete it with a Mage. You might have cleared all the stages, swept all the gold, but you can’t help but think, “What if I do it with a Warrior instead?”
In the case of the nice guy, he might just be so bored with the popularity swirling around him that he tried being the most hated guy on the Internet. Rare, but not totally impossible.
Yet it could also be the exact reverse – people could be more talkative offline, and yet be cautious and quiet online. Why?
These cases are often attributed to social media sites, where your name and identity are actually discernible (unless you create an anonymous account). When your profile is open for all to see, you have to be conscious of the fact that everything you say, quote, could actually be recorded. On the other hand, when offline, anything you say could only be recorded by the wind.
Offline, it’s pretty hard to gain confidence. You would have to be proficient at something – which majority of the public can’t actually empathize with.
Online, it’s a different story. The Internet is data-coded, which means that as long as you perform the systematic processes, you can achieve the result. So let’s say you work your way up to level 200 in a game. After boasting to your star struck friends, you would find yourself happier and generally more confident – something you found hard to achieve offline.
It’s a natural process – you start to be be more outspoken, more action-based online, because you have achieved something there. Slowly, the Internet becomes your zone, while the offline world suddenly seems distant.
In the event that you have quite a number of following on any social media site (Instagram, Twitter), you’re more likely to be careful with your posts and tweets. The reason’s simple – online, anything you do would be seen and judged by more than a hundred people (presuming that you have at least this number of followers). In contrast, you’re likely to be dealing with only six or seven people at one go offline, which means that you could afford to be more free-spirited.