It’s no secret that people are willing to say more digitally than in person. People are much more willing to text someone rather than call them, look up something on the internet rather than ask someone for an answer, or comment on something rather than tell a person their thoughts directly. The Information Age has put all aspects of our lives into the world of social media. We no longer need to send pictures out in the mail – we have Facebook for that. Twitter is used to share our ideas and talk to others, and we have Foursquare to tell our friends where we are, who we’re with, and when we’re there.

The Disinhibition Effect

People are much more willing to share things on the internet than in person, which begs the question: Is the person we present ourselves to be on the internet who we really are? Read Write Web published an article on just that. In the article, Rider University professor Jon Suler states, “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.”

Such a phenomenon is called the disinhibition effect. People are willing to share information due to the lack of physical contact or emotion that an online environment creates.  In Professor Anthony Rotolo’s social media class, he recently said, “Everyone can have something nasty said about them, especially on social media.” It is much easier to type something than to say it out loud.

Social Media and the Professional 

Some companies are beginning to look the other way when it comes to hiring based on social media presence. People can be professional when it comes to the workplace but may show their more social side when it comes to Facebook. We all have several ways in which we present ourselves, so there is no reason why Facebook or Twitter should reveal who we are while we’re at our 9-5 jobs rather than who we are after work and on the weekends.

Undoubtedly, some people choose to make their Twitter and Facebook accounts an accurate reflection of their life at work. LinkedIn aims for just that; to market yourself based on your professional and academic achievements. However, with several social media sites out there all with a different purpose, how can you really seem like just one type of person on the web? It is difficult to find consistency between the tone and material one uses to present themselves on various social media platforms.

Although it’s possible to “be yourself” on social media, it is very easy to say things that you wouldn’t normally say aloud and portray yourself as someone you’re not. I mean, come on…can you really say that your 17-year-old Facebook self is an accurate portrayal of who you are?

How do you present yourself on social media? Share in the comments below.