Much has been said about proliferation of social media and emergence of virtual worlds that we all inhabit. First decade of this century has indeed drastically changed the way we, the society live, think, communicate and interact.
It has also brought out multiple personalities within one self. Do you know people who completely surprised you with the personality they exhibited online, as opposed to how you knew them in reality?
Have you found yourself being much too vocal, upfront, and fierce in a debate online on say facebook, where usually you would find yourself tongue tied or backing away in an actual face to face one?
Do you feel more comfortable interacting in real world with a friend, but would shy away from posting a comment on his or her shared content?
So I came across this post which categorized seven social media personality types. This made me think that we also have split personalities of our own – one real, other virtual. If one begins to observe personality types in one’s social media circle, people could be categorized in one or more of the following types. Do you know any of the folks below?
The social un-social
A person who would in normal circumstances avoid human contact with all of his/her might. You may not be able to drag this person to a party or a social function without significant threats/bribes where he/she is required to engage in polite small talk (at most) or smile at people (at least). On the contrary – this person may sport a really huge friends list (including random people) that keeps on growing! Most of the people I know that fit this type are the male species (apologies for the stereotyping) although there are some from my own gender lot.
On the other hand – there is a type who is wonderfully social in real life, has many friends, acquaintances and contacts, and makes it a point to be in touch and communicate with them. But will avoid using their presence on social networks as a mean of communication. Many people that I know of this type are mostly of the earlier generation who have caught on to the social network fad out of curiosity but are still unsure of using it.
The unlikely artist
The term artists is used in a broader sense to cover people like me who have suddenly out of the blue started exploring their creative side and are now spouting poetry, articles, pictures et al. Courageously, they expose themselves to the risk of being laughed at or criticized, behind their virtual backs, but nevertheless, triumphing over their virtual stage fright! We discover closet photographers, painters, poets, writers, music buffs, in our friends or acquaintances and wonder if we ever knew the real person! This image was shared on google plus:
So what? Internet access is a reason good enough! And I may be bad artist, but I am a bad artist with guts!
The well known stranger
These are people who you know very well, but they never interact with you virtually. It could be a close childhood buddy who drifted apart, a colleague with whom you have lunch very often, a close friend, or a relative. These people shy away from acknowledging or commenting on any content that is shared, even after they consume it. They will see your vacation pictures, read the link you shared, watch that youtube video, may like your status update, but come what may – will never respond.
The private lurker
There are people who are extremely wary of what they share and who sees it. They will have very strict privacy settings (if they can figure it out in spite of the darn social networks that pull cruel tricks and find new ways to ‘expose’ you!) that makes one wonder what they are doing with an account in the first place.
There are also people who have found a simpler way to get around these smartass nosey security designers employed by the networks. They have an account which is completely open to the world, but there is nothing that they will share. Never. Ever. That again makes one wonder what is the purpose of having that account?
Ah ha! They want to know what is going on with everyone else! Well, fair enough.
The shy exhibitionist
There are people who are otherwise shy, may not share much face to face, but would still surprisingly share updates about a place they visited, movie they appreciated, a concert attended, or dish cooked and its recipe.
There is an exhibitionist streak in all of us. We want people to know what is going on in our world and look for acknowledgment.
The expressive introvert
A person who you thought was an introvert is surprisingly expressive and passionate when commenting on issues. The Anna Hazare campaign saw many closet activists and cynics open up and debate tooth and nail on the issue! I have seen debates on Google Plus Vs Facebook, iOS Vs Android, This Vs That and so on.
Some of the brave Samaritans remain in the ring of original instigating post, while many other lukewarm commenters fall back and become silent spectators while the Gladiators are fighting it out in the comments arena.
You may have seen your virtual friends who fit into one or more of the above types. Well, I am sure, people can typecast me into one or more of the above categories! It all comes down to their perception of where I fit. Our virtual existence, in this age has become like an alter ego. It is you in a parallel universe, managing your image and others’ perception of you. In the process, it is fascinating to see all that is shared and consumed.
I guess, we are just lucky to be a part of this dynamic age of enriching experiences. The key is to opening the mind and making the most of it!