1: Based on your experience in various cyberspace venues, is there, as Short et al (1976) proposed, a lack of the presence of others when communicating and interacting online? And does this affect how you behave?
From personal experiences, it depends on what kind of venue you are in whether or not you experience a lack of presence of others when online. For example, a social networking site does not tend to encourage the sensation of presence in that particular environment; however, a multi-media environment where one has their own figure to explore the venue does. I think that this can affect the way you behave in different ways depending on what kind of virtual environment you are in at the time. On Facebook, people can change the ways in which they behave as it could make them more narcissistic due to the ability to report ‘what is on your mind’. On top of this, narcissism can increase and become obsessive as some people check how many ‘likes’ or ‘comments’ they may have on a particular post that they have created. A study called ‘It Is All about Being Popular: The Effects of Need for Popularity on Social Network Site Use’ by Sonja Utz, Martin Tanis, and Ivar Vermeulen (16th January, 2012) highlights that behaviour can significantly change when concerning need for popularity and social networking sites. Another factor to consider when Facebook is being discussed is that it could also increase the ability to observe others’ behaviours and can lead to an unhealthy obsession with certain people.
Online gaming and being existent in a multi-media environment online can also change your behaviour. Personally, I think this is due to the fact that you live a life in the virtual world through your personal figure and you can become attached to this figure and this way of life within the given environment. This can affect behaviour because it could make you become much more sensitive about other people’s actions against your character, and thus may make you become more aggressive online, and subsequently taking any offence personally rather than maintaining a gaming status. One study by Nicholas David Bowman, Daniel Schultheiss, and Christina Schumann (12th March, 2012) found that character attachment (CA) does have an effect on behaviour online, and that pro-social gamers have a greater sense of control over their characters, whereas anti-social gamers are more likely to forget about the real world and do not take responsibility over their actions in their virtual environment. Therefore, behaviour can change depending on the virtual environment, especially when a sense of physical presence is experienced.