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Virtual Dissociative... Disorder?

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In reference to this article: Virtual Reality Pioneer Says the Internet is Making People Trolls, Needs More Human Input

I have always found the difference between who we are "IRL" and who we are online to be an interesting topic. As a "chatter" in the mid 90's (remember yahoo chat, and AOL, and that darker seedier IRC) I was fascinated by the difference in human behavior. I felt that somehow that anonymous nature of it made us a little more honest...

Not the kind of honesty where everything we say is "the truth", but honesty in the sense that our inner-selves (parts closer to the id I guess) were closer to the surface. So the feelings shared -- directly or though our behavior -- were more honest than the day-to-day masks we ware in public. Or maybe it had more to do with alterity -- the "people" on the other side of the monitor were not "real" and so it was all far less than honest, these avatars we assumed were detached constructions?

The subject interested me enough that when I was at university I asked my psychology Professor if there was much active research on the subject... she replied with something along the lines of, "oh, how interesting, I don't know, I have never heard of such a study" and then went on to talk about the various ethical concerns... To date I am not really aware of any "official" psychology studies on the differences between who we are online (in social communities[1]) and who we are offline -- and with the online world quickly merging with "reality"[2] the opportunity to study the distinction while still distinct is disappearing.

One of the modern phenomena that intrigues me is how cruel the web can be. Take a look at a few random threads in the Caffeine Lounge. As moderators we are often fighting to stop members from ganging up on new members who don't follow the "rules"/mores of the forum. DIC is a very real community and like any community dissimilarity is punished, often harshly, by the community members.

Funny thing though... when I first created the avatar NickDMax (at the time just a lowly unique screen name) on AOL some 15 or so years ago, Nicholas and NickDMax were very different. Now, while the two are distinct, they are... well... me. Sometimes I am not very proud of the way NickDMax acts... Sometimes I am not very proud of the way I act (IRL).

-- crap -- I just realized I am schizophrenic... well virtually dissociative anyway.

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