The Los Angeles Times reports that there can be a disconnect between our “real life” and virtual personalities:
Just because popular social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, encourage members to use their actual identities doesn’t mean people are presenting themselves online the way they do in real life.
Some psychologists and sociologists who have studied usage habits on Twitter, Facebook and popular dating sites say there’s little correlation between how people act on the Internet and how they are in person.
A sociologist argues that people may polish up their online selves, and she thinks that what happens on the web is likely to have consequences for the real world person:
Online, people tend to exaggerate their personas because they have much more time to revise and calculate the content they present than in spontaneous face-to-face interactions.
“The persona online may be much more fabulous, much more exciting than the everyday life that they’re leading,” said Julie Albright, a digital sociologist at USC, “because they see everybody else doing it.”
Twitter, in many ways, has become a personal broadcast medium.
“It has turned people into mini-broadcasters,” Albright said. “It makes them in a way stars of their own reality shows.”
Albright points out that actions online can, however, influence real-life behavior. A new batch of followers on Twitter could translate into a more positive outlook.
“They can go back to their lives and have a boost of confidence,” she said.