Humans often act differently when their identity is concealed, when they have their mask on. This has become especially prevalent in the 21st century, with the popularity of the internet, where people often have their "mask on."
Although it is most common now, this same effect has been engraved in human nature for centuries. In early times of war, many warriors wore masks. Some part of it was to instill fear in their enemies, but some part of it was to hide who they were. The more people wore masks, the more disconnect they had from who they were. A similar effect has moved through time to the internet we have today.
In the 21st century, the common form of this phenomenon is called the Online Disinhibition Effect. John Suler, a psychologist at Rider University, says "It's well known that people say and do things in cyberspace that they wouldn't ordinarily say or do in the face-to-face world. They loosen up, feel more uninhibited, express themselves more openly. Researchers call this the disinhibition effect." Suler is saying that a lot of the things people do and say are not accurate to what they would do in real life. We see this manifested recently in cases of cyber bullying. Whether it be small or big, people are constantly saying things behind others' backs on Instagram, Twitter, text messages, and Snapchat. Celebrities and teenagers alike are starting drama fueled by statements made on social media.
A big problem with this is that without that human presence, bullying can happen without anyone realizing it. When having face-to-face interactions, we often put more thought into our actions and what we say. While online, this effect is gone. A person is more likely to say whatever first comes to mind and press send, instead of consciously thinking about it before it comes out. I know that Trump potshots are easy and cheap, but it's a good example. The president of the United States will even blurt out whatever comes to mind on Twitter, often insulting colleagues or opposing politicians. We all do this, whether you realize it or not, you've probably said things about or to another person that you otherwise wouldn't have in person.
My message in short is to realize that this is happening. The more people that consciously know it's happening, the less it will occur. Before you post your next Instagram photo, tweet, or Snapchat, just take a second to think about it.
Tate Ericson is a senior at Wilsonville High School.
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)