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Robert Stroud Adam Padgett April 9th, 2014 Engl.

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Research Paper I would like to think that social media doesnt play that big of a role in my life; but sadly I dont think thats the case. I have most of the social media accounts that the people around my age tend to use. I have a Twitter, an Instagram, Snap-chat and I used to have a Facebook, but I deleted it because it was way to family orientated for my liking. As far as time spent on all of these different accounts goes, its definitely not as much as a lot of people my age, but its still more than I feel like I should be spending on them. On my twitter account, I have nearly 7,000 tweets, thats a lot! Ive only had my account for two years, so if you think about it, thats a lot of time spent on twitter daily. If you do the math, thats nearly ten tweets a day. Along with all the other time I spend on Instagram, snap-chat, and just doing random stuff on the internet throughout the day that ends up being a significant amount of time that I could better spend doing other things such as my school work. I dont know how my social media usage ever got as high as it is now, but I really do think its becoming a problem. I get on all of the social media accounts I have for no reason other than just because Im bored, or want to kill some time. I rarely ever log on because I have something valuable, or important to say; it is usually just pointless thoughts of mine that have no real importance. For example, I might randomly send a tweet reading Wow, I am starving someone should bring me some food while all the while

knowing no one is going to bring me any. It really is just useless things to say, but I still do it all the time. Many people my age use social media to connect with other people, and kill time. For myself personally, I use social media more in these two ways, than in any other way. But other people use it for much different reasons. Certain people use social media outlets to misinform, or try to get ahead of others, or even in some cases to put others down. My research question which I will be answering throughout the rest of this paper is: What affects do computers play on virtues? And by virtues, I mean in which ways people act differently whilst using a computer knowing they are completely unanimous. In other words, Im searching to find in which ways people would act out of the norm when they are completely unanimous.

In 2004, psychologist John Suller wrote a paper titled The Online Disinhibition Effect where he explored six factors that could be combined to change peoples behavior online. These are dissociative anonymity (nobody knows who I really am, so my actions cant be connected to me); invisibility (nobody can tell what I look like, or judge how I sound); asynchronicity (my actions are not occurring in real time); solipsistic Introjection (I can't see these people, I have to guess who they are, and what their intentions are) dissociative imagination (this is not the real world, these are not real people so it doesnt matter what I do); and minimizing authority (there are no authority figures here, I can do whatever I want). (5&6)

Throughout research on this topic, I found a very interesting on the Huffington post called Facebook Psychology this article talks about a series of five experiments where the

authors illustrate what effects social networking plays on individuals. Authors Andrew T. Stephen, and Keith Wilcox go on to talk about how their experiments show just exactly what makes individuals act differently on social media thank how they do in face to face interactions with real people. In five experiments, we demonstrate that social network use enhances selfesteem in users who are focused on close friends (i.e., strong ties) while browsing their social network. This momentary increase in self-esteem reduces self-control, leading those focused on strong ties to display less self-control after browsing a social network. Additionally, we present evidence suggesting that greater social network use is associated with a higher body-mass index and higher levels of credit card debt for individuals with strong ties to their social network. This research extends previous findings by demonstrating that social networks primarily enhance selfesteem for those focused on strong ties during social network use (1). In this article, it shows that just because of the anonymity associated with being behind a computer screen, an individuals self-control is reduced leading him or her to act in ways they would normally not.

I hopped to another source, in which I found research correlating directly with my topic; here again, we see the phrase Dissociative Anonymity. As I read through the book I found that dissociative anonymity is summed up as When people have the opportunity to separate their actions from their real world and identity, they feel less vulnerable about opening up. Whatever they say or do can't be directly linked to the rest of their lives. They don't have to own their behavior by acknowledging it within the full context of who they really are.(2/3) reading this passage really helped me better understand and confirm my thesis that computers play a significant role on virtues because computers allow users to remain anonymous thus leaving them free to act in ways which they normally would not.

Other aspects of anonymity over the internet which affect how people act differently is the fact the people you are interacting with cannot physically see each other. Invisibility gives people the false courage to say and or do things in which otherwise they would never think of doing. In John Suler's The Psychology of Cyberspace, he states that the power to be concealed overlaps with anonymity, because anonymity is the concealment of identity. He later in the book states that there are some significant differences such as people knowing a great deal about who you are, however, they still cannot see or hear you, so you do not have to worry about how you look or sound when you type something to them. The author writes that the opportunity to be physically invisible amplifies the disinhibition effect. I described the disinhibition effect earlier, but to make the context of this become clearer, I will repeat myself. The disinhibition effect is when people have the opportunity to separate their actions from their real world and identity. (3)

I recently had an interview with a student here at UNCC to ask him how he acts differently over the internet when he knows that he is completely anonymous, and he not surprisingly said many of the same things that are written about in nearly all of my sources. He told me, that when he personally is on social media, or playing an online game hes in it to benefit himself. He states if I have to go against something that I believe in morally, its okay to act differently, because its not real. I cant judge what actions another individual is going to take, so I have to do what I can to get ahead of, and be better than them. Im not physically hurting anyone, so I dont see the harm in acting differently than I would in face to face interactions, and there are no set rules, or anyone to enforce them anyways, so why should I act as if its real life. This interview with the student really brought forth three strong points from

John sullers book. The three points in which I found a large presence from my interviewees response are solipsistic Introjection (I can't see these people, I have to guess who they are, and what their intentions are) dissociative imagination (this is not the real world, these are not real people so it doesnt matter what I do); and minimizing authority (there are no authority figures here, I can do whatever I want). (5&6) After my interview with the student, I found myself wondering if this was in fact true for many people my age, and to my surprise, I found a HUGE example.

In 2010, an American documentary came out providing a nearly perfect match for my thesis. The movie is all about how people set up false identities over the internet pretending to be someone almost a near polar opposite of which they actually are. This movie is called Catfish in the movie, the man has an online girlfriend in which he has been involved in a long term and long distance relationship with. The man wishes to meet with his girlfriend, but when he finally meets her, it is not at all the person in which he thought he was with all along. This person set up a whole different identity of herself with different pictures, interest, everything you can think of. Because she was doing this from behind a computer screen, it gave her a chance to pretend to be someone she wasnt, and because of the anonymity, no one could have known except for her. In this example, the woman is taking advantage of the invisible factor of anonymity over the internet. Invisibility is simply taking advantage of the fact that no one really knows what you look like unless you want them to. (6) Anonymity over the internet is not always a bad thing though. There are several cases in which anonymity can be used for good. One specific example is alcoholics anonymous. I found an article right off the Alcoholics Anonymous .org website which writes about how thousands of

people who regularly attend alcoholics anonymous use chat rooms to talk with fellow members and sponsors. The article also writes about how A.A keeps the same values from which it has had since its creation, and keeps the identity of all members completely anonymous. This article writes about how thousands of people who attend alcoholics anonymous regularly use online chat rooms with fellow members, and how A.As values remain the same, and keep the identity of its members completely, 100% anonymous. This article shows deep concern with A.As anonymity principle and how the members are unsure if they wish to join the social media accounts, because they want to remain anonymous. The organization, has set up numerous new chat rooms, in which members set up his or her A.A id number, and then create an anonymous profile to safely, and privately use the chat rooms to still seek information, and guidance, without the risk of people knowing who they actually are. Many people in the A.A system use these chat rooms, and it further defends my thesis. The people using these chat rooms want to remain anonymous, because they feel uncomfortable with people knowing who they truly are and that they have a problem. These chat rooms allow people to remain anonymous in a god way by allowing users to seek help, and not be judged by others. They still use the anonymity to keep parts of their lives separate, but because they are seeking help, members are more likely to be true and honest about his or her self. They also are able to keep this part of their life private from others. (4) In conclusion to my paper, I have researched and discovered, that there are six main factors which play into anonymity over the internet, and why it is people feel the need to act in ways, which in day to day occurrences with real people, they never would. The sif factors that play into this are dissociative anonymity (nobody knows who I really am, so my actions cant be connected to me); invisibility (nobody can tell what I look like, or judge how I sound);

asynchronicity (my actions are not occurring in real time); solipsistic Introjection (I can't see these people, I have to guess who they are, and what their intentions are) dissociative imagination (this is not the real world, these are not real people so it doesnt matter what I do); and minimizing authority (there are no authority figures here, I can do whatever I want). (5&6)

Bibliography: 1. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2155864 2. Suler, J. (2004). CyberPsychology and Behavior, 7, 321-326 3. http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html 4. http://www.aaoklahoma.org/PDF's/Anonymity%20and%20Social%20Networking%20Sit es.pdf 5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15257832 6. http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/1094931041291295