Online Communication and the Danger of the Disinhibition Effect

The most part of the people whom you meet on the internet can’t say for sure who are you and identify your address and occupation. The computer system administrators and other technically experienced people probably could define you IP address and e-mail if necessary. But generally the internet users know only that information about you that you have reported yourself. If you wish you may hide your identity. The world “anonymous” points out the fact that one can go without the actual name. Such fact makes the best prerequisite for the gamer or internet user developing the syndrome of disinhibition.

The effect of disinhibition has various aspects that define the peculiarity of each case and simultaneously act as the basis for developing this or that subnormal state of mind.

  • The first one is overwhelming anonymity of the users. In these circumstances the behavior of single separated user drops out from the general context of the actual personality and environment of this particular person. For example showing aggression the gamer doesn’t suppose it necessary to take the responsibility for his actions. In fact the gamers manage to convince themselves that their cyber ego has nothing to do with their personality. The specialists call this phenomena psychological dissociation.
  • “You can’t see me”. In the most part of the virtual space the other gamers don’t see you. This invisibility allows the gamers to go where they wouldn’t show up in any other situations and act the way that is unacceptable to them if they feel being watched. Even if the internet user doesn’t hide his identity the physical invisibility boosts up the disinhibition effect . In that way the texting and online communication make the users say exactly what they mean without taking into consideration the physical reactions from his interlocutor.

  • Asynchrony. The real time communication will provoke its participants to be more sincere and speak about their thoughts more openly along with the fact that they will try to control themselves in order not to say too much. But if you lead a long texting session for two or three weeks, answering the messages once a day you will have more time to develop a large message describing your state. The feeling that you leave your message “somewhere behind” (your mate may read it in two or three days for example) makes you abstract yourself from what you have just reported. In that situation the people become unaware of the private things they report as the don’t receive the immediate feedback. The web psychologist Kali Manro calls this practice “the emotional strike followed by getaway”.

  • The absence of face-to-face contact in the process of online communication may lead to interesting effects. A person may feel that his mind is united with the mind of his online interlocutor. The reading of the messages may be perceived as “the voices in the head”. We don’t know the voice of the internet mates but our brain can’t process the emptiness, so it endows him with the imaginary physical characteristics. Some people hear their interlocutors speaking with their own voices, as the project their intonations and voice pitch level to the stranger. So they feel like they are talking to themselves. And when we are talking to ourselves we tend to say the most private things aloud.
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