OPENING ACT: Are we more honest on Xbox Live than we are in our actual lives?

For anyone who’s encountered those bands of roving teenagers on Xbox Live, you know that unique blend of disgust & amazement that comes from hearing the ugly little things that come out of their mouths. Over at ReadWriteWeb, Alecia Eler tries to divine an answer for why we speak more freely on social networks than in our daily lives. She points to the work of psychologist John Suler who identifies something called the “disinhibition effect” which:

suggests that people on social networking sites feel free to share very personal things about themselves – secret emotions, fears, wishes. Conversely, social networkers show “unusual acts of kindness and generosity,” which is known as “benign disinhibition.” Suler also defines “toxic disinhibition,” the idea of people online exploring sites of pornography and violence, places that they wouldn’t visit in the real world (strip clubs, bathhouses, scenes of crime and abuse) but feel free to do online. Suler points out that the overall effect of online disinhibition is caused by several factors which interact with each other, and result in something far more complex.

No accountability means a lot of honesty apparently. But it always raises this notion that we’re able to be more ourselves online than perhaps we are in real life. 

-Jamin Warren

[via RWW]