Online vs Offline Personality

Did you notice that people are rarely the same offline and online? I am not talking about obvious trolls, or those who lie to present themselves in better light online. I mean on regular, everyday people, with honest intentions, those who don’t fake their online personality and those who are not ashamed/afraid to be who they really are.

Still, their online and offline personalities are often different. This is especially true for women.

I’ll give you a moment to process what I just said. I am aware it sounds like total garbage. In a way it is. It’s unscientific and completely based on my own experience. Still, it happened way too many times to go unnoticed.

First of all, there’s yours truly. I try my best to be honest online and still, I know (and I’ve been told) I’m different than in real life. It’s not something I do on purpose; it just happens. I might appear reserved on my blog (I don’t share many personal stories), but trust me, I am more open online. I am also more bitchy (in lack of a better term), more sarcastic, more smart-ass. I am quicker to state my opinion or even ridicule things I don’t agree with. In short, I am not afraid to speak my mind.

I am not like that in real life. I am extremely shy. I usually try my best not to draw any attention to myself. I either speak to little and to quiet, or nervously ramble about things nobody’s interested to hear. People see me either as way too quiet or annoying. Weird in a bad way, in any case. But definitely not somebody who is competent and witty, or somebody who is ready to speak her mind (I can’t blame them for this – like I said, I rarely do; I often blush when I need to talk to strangers, even acquaintances).

The fact I am different online is not surprising. Written communication works much, much better for me. I was always able to express myself that way, find the best word, know what to say. I was, and I am, able to even (even!) argue with people- something I can’t do when talking. Another thing about the Internet is that nobody can see you. Like I said, I am shy and I don’t feel comfortable when people are looking at me (yes, I know it sounds… strange to say the least). So, all in all, I am more comfortable online and I can express myself better in written communication, even if it’s in English.

But that’s me. What about other people? Judging by anecdotal evidence, I am not alone. There are many wonderful, fantastic people I met in real life who seemed bichy, arrogant and overly sarcastic online. They presented themselves as smart, but of the “don’t mess with me” kind. But in real life, these people (mostly female people) are shy, friendly and sweet! This is true for my friend Iva (we met via her website in 2003), and many other “online” people I’ve met in real life.

The opposite seems to be true, too: those who seem nice, friendly and sweet online turn out to be bichy, mean and annoying. (There are exceptions, of course, but this seems to be the trend). Those are the women who try their best to present themselves as polite, friendly and sweet online, but display nasty attitudes in real life (by laughing at people who are “fat & unattractive”, or believing they are “teh” smartest on the face of the Earth, without really being particularly educated themselves). Most of these women have colourful, cute websites, and present themselves as friendly and sweet, “ready to help”, ready to send a cute ecard or a gift in a Faceboook online game or to listen to your problems or give you an advice in a chat or an email – something that “bichy” website owners don’t have time to deal with. But still, most of the time, those “bichy website owners” turn out to be decent human beings, while queens of online sweetness disappoint.

I have no idea why this is happening. The difference between written and eye-to-eye communication is all I can think of.

Now, why women? I have no idea. In fact, I have only one explanation for this: most of the people I met online are females. Contrary to the popular belief, there are plenty of females on the Internet (at least in places I visit). I rarely meet guys or start Internet friendship with them. Also, most of the “online” people I’ve met in real life were females. (That’s how I formed my stereotype theory). So it might as well be true for guys- I just don’t have any anecdotal evidence to prove it (not that anecdotal evidence can really prove anything).

So, what are your experiences? Are you different online than in real life? What about the people you’ve met?

5 thoughts on “Online vs Offline Personality

  1. Natasha W

    Not only am I different online and offline, but I am also different depending on the online or offline venue. My friends sometimes ask “Why don’t you joke/play/inform/whatever around me?”

    My personality is just completely random and malleable. I have a baseline personality, of course, but it changes depending on my surroundings and mood.

    I’m also more open online. Day to day, I’m very quiet and only speak when necessary (But then I can be loud and wild around some people…). In general I feel very comfortable with people looking at me; I avoid “group events” and outdoors I can often be found hiding behind my boyfriend or holding his hand so I don’t immediately run away from everyone. But then I have a bit of a stage persona where I can talk to groups and put on an act… as long as I’m not being myself, I find it enjoyable.

    Yes, I’m very weird.

  2. Paula

    I have never met anyone in real life that I have met online, so I can’t comment on that. As for myself, I am probably more open online, than in real life, and I’m really not all that open online. lol I am shy and quiet, but I am not afraid to state my opinion or to fight for what I believe in and I think that holds true in both my online and offline personalities. I know I am more of a smart ass in real life than online. I think it is because I am communicating through writing so I have more time to think about what I am going to say and can stop myself from being an ass. lol Maybe… :)

  3. Mariana

    I think everyone is different online. The GOforum was the first place I met people from other countries online. Before that I used internet to comunnicate with people I alredy knew on real life. (But I used to meet people before, I met my bf on line)

    I believe I’m quite the same when I’m talking to my real life friends on the web. Maybe, your online self shows when there’s no one to say you’re not that way.

    For me, online I look pretty (made up, well dressed)most of the time. I’m also smater but that’s because I have time to think about what I’m “saying”, I don’t work well under pressure. I know I’m different in more ways (because everybody is) but I’m can’t give any more examples. LOL

  4. Eurasian Sensation

    Personally I think I’m basically the same online and offline, however online I articulate myself better because I have time to choose my words better.

    While I don’t see much of people being radically different off/online, I would add a couple of factors that contribute to this impression.
    Firstly, it is much easier to misinterpret a person’s meaning and intentions when only reading their written words. I see this happen all the time, with stuff that I write and with others. There often isn’t that capacity to check if the other person is on your wavelength before you continue talking.

    And the anonymous, or semi-anonymous nature of internet discourse means that people feel uninhibited to say whatever they like, including things that may get them beat up if they said it in person. Because the person on the other end of the discussion is often nothing more than a few characters on a page, a lot of people don’t really care about hurting their feelings.

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