Behind the Mask

10 11 2012

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person.
Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”

– Oscar Wilde

Last week I asked, “does the virtual world allow people to be even more true to themselves” and I found some thought-provoking and insightful information when I searched for “are people more honest and open online”.

Oscar Wilde’s words are no less relevant today.  The mask in question now is more likely to be an avatar or username, behind which the online community can reveal their true feelings.  In fact, the ‘Rational Optimist’ points out that perhaps this is the modern version of the grill or curtain which separates confessors from the Catholic priest?

Matt Rhodes of highlights the differences between social networks and online communities.


We don’t tell the truth in social networks. This isn’t to say that we lie, or mislead people, it’s just that we are selective about what we say or reveal about ourselves… Social networks are a ‘me’ space… we present a version of ourselves that we want people to see. 



I love my computer

[Online communities] are not spaces focused on the profile and connections, rather on a shared and group effort, aim or ambition… The desire to be heard doesn’t lead to ‘exaggeration’ on personal profiles, rather online communities provide a multitude of opportunities for our voices to be heard.



Finally, I’m adding a link to a blog where you can witness someone taking ‘baby steps’ to becoming more open online.  Positively Present is, by her own admission, “pretty closed emotionally and physically” but realised that this “definitely stands in the way of my happiness”.  In a later post, she says “this blog has REALLY helped me open up. I say things about myself that I wouldn’t normally say.”


DiPirro D(April 29, 2009) Positively Present : Unlock 10 Ways To Be More Open [online] Available from <> [09/11/2012]

Rhodes, M (January 7 2009) Do we tell the truth in social networks? Does it matter?[online] Available from <> [10/11/2012]

Ridley, M (February 18, 2012) The Rational Optimist : Flaming and soul baring – online honesty [online] Available from  <> [ 10/11/2012]




2 responses

12 11 2012

Very well put together. Ultimately I will be interested not only in your discoveries, but where you will find the most valuable information and evidence. What type of evidence will be the most convincing?

12 11 2012

Primary research is coming soon! Then published research, then I’ll evaluate what I’ve found.

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