Monday, 1 October 2012

The Affordances of Cyberspace

1: How do the current characteristics of the internet environment shape our behaviour and affect our psychology there?

The internet environment may have opened up numerous doors to millions of people who would not normally have access to so much in the real world, however, it does lack in certain areas that has had an effect on our own behaviours and psychological processes whilst we are in the cyberspace environment. Identity flexibility is one of the main characteristics of cyberspace that can have huge effects psychologically and even more drastic effects on our own behaviour. This seems to be a product of having the ability to be anonymous in the virtual world and thus holding little or no accountability or responsibility when carrying out certain behaviours online; behaviours that in the real-world would most certainly have enormous consequences. An example of lack of responsibility and accountability for one's actions would be through the website called . This website claims that people are being videoed whilst they are being murdered, and the more people that click on the website, the less people seem to question their own responsibility for taking part and witnessing a murder. In the real world, being involved in anything of this kind of calibre would have astronomical effects on one's life, however online people do not seem to question their own accountability for something so sinister due to the absence of physical presence, much in the same way that people can be unaffected by watching films of a graphic nature. Personally, online experiences like this seem to lack personification and reality for some people, whether an event looks very realistic or not, and some may even believe that because they are not there physically, that the event is not actually occurring, where in truth it is. This suggests that people detach from the self whilst they are present in the cyberspace environment and thus explains why our behaviour and attitudes change significantly when online.

Another factor of identity flexibility is the reality that most of us are innocently portraying a different personality type online compared to the real world. This can be evident through websites such as online dating, facebook and twitter where you can develop obsessive personality traits and false ones. For example, when forming relationships online, whether they are friendships or romances, most people are much more confident when conversing in the cyberspace environment, whereas in the real world, people tend to be much more guarded and perceived as shy, therefore demonstrating th effects of cyberspace on behaviour and its psychological influences.

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