I must admit, that something has been bothering me for a long time about interraction via the net. People seem to separate a conversation via IRC from one face to face as completely separate entities. Now that net usage has become more pervasive, people are wising up to this fact a bit more than they used to, but their conduct on the whole hasn't changed much. Even the most savvy internet user still falls prey to saying the phrase, "Well, I would never act that way IRL."
A little background for our audience. I have been on the net for probably 8 years now. Before that, I had been bouncing around a pool of something like 30 BBSs, which was actually a case of me CUTTING down on my BBS usage so it would be easier for me to support a "normal social life." I'm a full time software engineer and I used to be an OP in #teen on EFnet. To say the least, I've chatted with a few people in my day. I also consider myself to be a well educated, polite person. I might get a bit inflamatory sometimes when I feel very passionately about something, but all that aside, I tend to keep a cool level head.
Below, I present 2 sides of interraction.
The NET side
Just tonight I was chatting with someone I had just met via the net. Now, some people might think that yahoo chat is just one big dating service, but I don't. The conversation went something like this.
Me: Hi! How's it going! I see that you're into underwater basketweaving! I am too. Weaved any baskets lately?
Her: No, but I've meant to! It's cool that you're into underwater basketweaving too!
Me: What kind of material do you weave with? My girlfriend and I are going to go weave some baskets tonight!
Her: Really? My boyfriend collects guns and says he wants to shoot you for messaging me!
Me: Excuse me?
Her: I'm taken, so f*ck off!
Call me crazy, but I don't recall hitting on her. Her sitting in one of those "I'm free to chat!" things indicated that she wanted to chat with someone. My indication that I was merely waiting for my girlfriend to come over might have tipped her off that I wasn't hitting on her... but go figure.
As an op in #teen, I often felt just a bit offended at the general conduct of my fellow ops. Granted, it was kind of lame to sit in a channel where all people do is msg
*pedophile1* 12/f/OH, msg me big boy!
Oh, so, we can see where this is not a good situation, but what was the reaction from the ops? They wrote clever little kick scripts explaining what an asshole the person being kicked is, and proceeded to treat newcomers rather rudely on all fronts. This wasn't the case ALL of the time, but often someone who flirted with an op would have autoOps by the next week, while referring to it as a "little @" (of mIRC fame) and not even knowing the commands to kick a person.
I countered this by writing a script that generated statistics based on the number of chatters vs the number of people kicked by an individual op, a few people got offended when I compared the thousands of kicks they were making against the general traffic in the channel. It was even more offensive when I noted that more actual chatting went on when they were not around.
Perhaps it's a power trip, but I never saw the fun in being the death of the party.
Another chat channel story. Yahoo chat now has a webcam feature. Much to my chagrin, the Linux version does not support this, but I have hopped on with the webcams before... It went something like this.
*Me* Hey channel! How's it going!
**Private* My sister wants to see your cock!
**Me* Excuse me?
**Her* Drop them pants boy!
**Me* Why? Are you going to get nekkid too?
**Her* Oh, I can't believe you! What a jerk! F*ck off!
And then I block her...
She probably wouldn't have openned up with "can I see your cock" at a party... or would she have?
The OTHER Side
At a bar...
*Me* Care to dance?
*Her* I'm taken, fuck off!
*Me* Wanna drink?
*Another Girl* Sure!
5 Mins later:
*Me* Well, nice talking with you
*Her* Yeah, wanna meet all of my friends? Wanna come back to my place?
Well, as we've seen, on this night, I faced both rejection and acceptance. In fact, the acceptance was probably a bit TOO accepting, as where all I wanted to do was make conversation and maybe get a number, she seemed to be planning our nuptuals. This story isn't actually ALL about me, my friend asked the girl to dance that night and I bought the other girl a drink, still, conceptually similar. Worth noting also is the situation where people "protect" their friends at the bar, where 2 people might be enjoying each others company, and the friends of one go about breaking it up. Worth noting is that the corresponding case 1 (above, I'm trying to make these correspond) was not an encounter with romantic intentions, and this one is only slightly more so. This begs a question that I will attempt to answer below, read on!
Well, while I've seen parties that are real meat lockers, I've never quite seen a situation that equates to the above situation in face-to-face interraction. I'm not even going to try on this one.
It took me a while to think of how to approach this one, but it occurred to me that there were a few crazy parties that I attended while at college. Of note, one time a girl told me that her friend wanted to have sex with me, and once at a toga party I was asked to ditch the toga, so I suppose that this conduct can be seen in public, however, certainly few people would approach you at the office or in a coffee shop and ask you a similar question.
SWEEPING AND ILL-FOUNDED CONCLUSIONS:
Let me be honest, I'm not a psychologist, I'm not a magazine editor, I have little place writing an article like this. It's not linked elsewhere on the net, it actually lacks all of the qualities that I want to see in K5 articles. I would actually be happy to see it voted down since it's not even clever... however, my girlfriend says I should post it anyway.
I conclude that in general, people DO behave differently in net interractions, but ALSO that our manners in general, are not up to snuff. I also would beg the question, do people view internet chatting as one big freaking dating service? More opinions PLEASE, since that's what this article is intended to find!