Are interactions on social networks "real?"

Karla - posted on 01/20/2012 ( 31 moms have responded )

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On a few social networks I've seen people say that it doesn't matter what they say on the Internet because "the Internet is not real."



It's as though they look at these exchanges among (yes real) people as though they are playing an off-line Sims game.



So if, while playing the Sims, I make a Sim/avitar and I decide to make that Sim fight with a neighboring Sim the neighboring Sim is controlled by the computer and that's not real.



But if I'm on Facebook, or CoM, or Twitter, and I decide to fight with another avitar... that avitar is controlled by a person so I am fighting with another human being, and that is real.



Granted there are some people who create false profiles for the fun of it, and to mess around, but I assume first that every profile is backed by a real person. And isn't this why CoM has the T.H.U.M.P.S. rules, to help prevent people getting hurt feelings?



How do you treat your profiles on social networks?

Am I "real" in your eyes?

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Krista - posted on 01/20/2012

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I met my husband online. Good thing I treated him like an actual human being and not some soulless avatar, huh?

Mary - posted on 01/20/2012

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I met my husband online as well!



I really do my damnedest to speak with people as respectfully online as if they were sitting across from. Even if they are "fake", I figure it only reflects poorly on my own character and integrity to do otherwise.

Lady Heather - posted on 01/20/2012

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It's all real to me. I send Christmas cards to my online friends so they have to be real. hehe.

Tam - posted on 01/20/2012

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The idea that the internet is not 'real' is ludicrous in my opinion. If the internet were not real, then it would not be the powerhouse that it truly is. Imagine that for one entire week, the major hubs that power the internet went down (I believe they are housed in four separate Army bases, but I can't be sure).



What would people do? About 50% of my personal friends are contacted primarily through the internet. My business contacts are as well. I research a lot through the web. I can't tell you the last time I went to a library for anything other than taking the kids out of the house.



People go to school online, which requires interaction with other people on the internet - can you get a degree from someone who is not 'real'?



Coming to a place like this is the virtual equivalent to going to a social gathering, albeit without the hassle of having to make oneself presentable. The conversations one has here and on other places of communication like Facebook, chatrooms, or message boards blossom into true friendships and rivalries just like they do in person.



To say the internet is not real in the sense that people on the other end do not matter because you do not know them in person is like saying that people in other countries are not real and do not matter because you have never been there. Or that the penpal your kid has that lives across the country isn't a real friend because you only write letters instead of hanging out at the park.



Like it or not, the pervasiveness of the internet has affected the lives of anyone who lives in an industrialized nation. If not by direct use, then by indirect means. Something that isn't real cannot be meaningful to the scale that the internet has become, especially when the primary use for the internet is communication between people.



And no matter how you try to define it, a person is real in every sense of the word, regardless of how they choose to communicate.

Kate CP - posted on 01/20/2012

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I have a feeling the same things were said when the telephone was invented. You're not really talking to that person face to face so you can say whatever you like.



Respect should travel through phone lines AND the internet just like it would in person.

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31 Comments

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Jennifer - posted on 01/24/2012

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LOL, I'm actually nicer on-line than in person! With no body langue to see, it can be harder to tell 'joke' from real. I'm pretty up front and say what I feel in person, but on-line I word it a lot more carefully. I guess the difference is most on-line does not affect my life, no matter how much I care. If your my neighbor, you can easily affect my life by your choices!

Merry - posted on 01/24/2012

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I think I just said that we are all moms who can be helped or hurt online and when you start thinking about how others feel reading your words you start wording things nicer because we aren't just names on a screen we are individuals with feelings.



Something like that. I don't remember which thread I was in when it came up

Karla - posted on 01/23/2012

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I started a new thread for the second questions here:



http://www.circleofmoms.com/debating-mum...



Laura, if you feel comfortable with sharing I am interested in knowing how one would respond.



I'm thinking of something snarky like: "Oh, then a person just said that, or are you in fact human? Because IMO if the posts are coming from a human, then it's real."



But I haven't formulated a nice response yet. lol.

Merry - posted on 01/23/2012

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Karla I have, and I was the one to respond to her, idk if I said it all right but I stand by my words!

Hope - posted on 01/23/2012

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The feeling that come after someone has said something rude or not nice are very real on my end. So yes the internet is real and can cause real pain. If anything we need to be even more careful with what we type vs. what we say to people in person. It is very easy to misinterpret what a person is say if there is no body language or facial expressions to back it up.

Celeste - posted on 01/23/2012

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Karla, here? Not really. Other message boards, absolutely. Their response is "It's just the internet".

Becky - posted on 01/22/2012

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Some of my best friends are on the internet! Women who I met when I joined an online mom's group when I was pregnant with my first. When I post on facebook that I am struggling with something, I often get more support from them than I do from my "real life" friends. So yes, I consider them to be very real, and the friendship to be very real.

Karla - posted on 01/22/2012

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It sounds as though everyone who responded considers their on-line contacts as "real."



So, the next questions:



Have you encountered anyone who said it doesn't matter what they say on-line because it's not real?



And, if you have, how do you respond?





I have seen this comment in a couple locations, but I have yet to formulate my own response; usually someone beats me to it.

Stifler's - posted on 01/22/2012

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I think people are real and interactions are real but they're only so real. Once someone starts going off/talking shit it's easy to just block them or go offline to avoid it. When you've started a confrontation with a person in real life and you live in the same town/have mutual friends it's not so easy to avoid them.

Merry - posted on 01/21/2012

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Yes, you are certainly real! I feel this is a moms group, like a playdate accross the Internet.

While I do feel freer to openly discuss and debate here I do not think I can just say whatever I think without thinking of how it's perceived.

We are all real people and everyone deserves some respect!

Kelina - posted on 01/21/2012

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Yes the internet is real and the people on the other end are real as well, although many people become bolder and more idiotic when online, saying things to me they'd never say to my face-mostly because I'd probably hit them or give them a tongue lashing. It's also easier to ignore things you say online. That being said though, I have a pretty low opinion of people who don't bother calling on your birthday, they just write on your wall, and celebrate other holidays the same way. To me those things are about more than just the words being said. They're about taking the time and effort to let the person know you're thinking about them, and want to talk or make that day special for them. Of course I'm notoriously bad for forgetting peoples birthdays, however if I do post on their wall just before midnight just to sneak it in on their birthday, I will 90% of the time follow up with a phone call the next day. I'm also not bad with birthdays because i don't know hen their birthday is, just most of the time I forget what day it is of the week. I've showed up to things a day late because I completely forgot what day it was.

Firebird - posted on 01/20/2012

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I know that a lot of people don't consider internet people to be real people just because they've never met in "real life" (whatever that means). However, real or not, it is always easier to be mean to someone if you don't have to look them in the eye.



Oh and to answer your question, yes you're real to me. I've also met a lot of great friends online, several of whom I now know in "real life". But I'll admit, you feel more real than those who have no profile picture. Mainly because I half expect those people to be trolls.

Celeste - posted on 01/20/2012

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I met my husband online too :)



I've met online friends that soon turned into very good friends in real life. One I've known for over 10 years!

Amie - posted on 01/20/2012

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Of course I treat them as real people. They are real people.



I may not be able to sit in front of them and look them in the eyes every time we "talk" but that doesn't mean they're not real.



What it does mean for some is that lack of human contact makes it easier for other people to be bastards. Met a few of those around online.



I've made some great friends online. I've met a group of women on here that I consider some of those great friends. Our connection has no less meaning because I can't jaunt down the road to have coffee with them.



I'm another one that met their husband online. If I hadn't replied to him, if I hadn't treated him as a real person - my life would be different.



It also irritates me when people make the assumption that just because people have online friends it means they have no lives and spend all their time plugged into a computer. I have a life (as do my online friends), I don't spend all my time online (nor do my online friends) - we just made a connection and over time it grew into more.

Mary - posted on 01/20/2012

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Yeah - as my "internet" hubby likes to point out, he succeeded where modern medicine failed...he was able to knock me up

;-)



Although there are those moments when I am convinced she is demon spawn =0

Rosie - posted on 01/20/2012

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are you guys SURE that your partners are REALLY real? i mean, they did come from the internet...;) they could be holograms or demons or something.

[deleted account]

My internet friendships are as real to me as my real life ones.



In some ways it's easier to make connections with people online because there isn't the same need for airs and graces. If you piss someone off by being yourself then you move on. You don't have to see them everyday and have to try and make awkward conversation.



I met my fiancée online. We spent a few months talking every evening before we eventually met. In those few months I built up a good picture of what I expected him to be and I'm not disappointed that I took that risk.



On the other end of the spectrum some people do use the internet to lie and manipulate others. People do the same in real life. You could just as easily meet a socio-path on the bus as you could on a social network.

Rosie - posted on 01/20/2012

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of course they are real. i have made a few friendships with some ladies on the internet and know plenty of people who met their spouse through the internet.

Sherri - posted on 01/20/2012

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Yes they are very much real people and I have formed many friends here and on FB. I treat them the same as I would if they were standing in front of me.

[deleted account]

I've been 'chatting' w/ some of the same women for 6.5 years. We've been w/ each other though marriages, divorces, births, deaths, and many other 'less significant' events. The idea that the internet isn't real is only for those people who simply want to hide behind a screen and say whatever the heck they want. Either they pretend it isn't real so they don't feel guilty... or they just don't care.



Granted, there certainly are some fake profiles, fake stories, and many exaggerations, but I always respond w/ the idea that it's real. If it's fake... who have I harmed? I wouldn't send money or extremely personal information out to just anyone, but just my words.... those cost me nothing. :)



And yes, I do have a sarcastic side that comes out and says some not nice things, but it's never done w/ ill intent.

Celeste - posted on 01/20/2012

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I agree with the above ladies. To me, social networking is "real", just another way of communicating. I treat people online the way I do in real life, with respect (at least I hope I do)



I don't understand why people can be so hateful and rude just because it's the internet.

Krista - posted on 01/20/2012

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The internet is not separate from the real world. It is simply another form of communication.



So if I were to go into a chat room full of strangers, and say rude things to them, with absolutely no consideration for their feelings, this would quite literally be akin to me walking into a crowded room full of strangers and doing the same thing. No, I don't know those people, and no, their opinions do not hold much weight for me, but why be deliberately rude, just because of that? They're still people.



Mind you, I also apply the same principle over the phone. I do not treat a telephone-based customer service rep or salesperson any differently than I would treat one that I was encountering face-to-face. I've BEEN on the other end of that phone, and know how people who are normally polite in person, can turn into real pricks when dealing with someone who they can't see.

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