Online Chameleons and Transparents

Comments came flying from far and wide to  “Why Don’t You Respond to Me?“, both on the grid and off. There’s more to be said about this topic, so here’s another facet to ponder.

I’ve often thought you can divide emailers, texters, and social media users into two groups:

Virtual Communications-2First, there are those who consider electronic communications to be the same as face-to-face encounters. It’s all the same to them. They are who they are, regardless. Similar conventions and rules apply. I’m going to call them “online transparents”.

The online transparents behave the same way whether online, or off. You recognize their voice in their emails. If they rarely speak in a group, their level of activity in social media will similarly correlate. The hey-lets-go-do-this person will launch online activity and shepherd the group to join in. The listeners, listen — but may inadvertently appear more quiet, because you can’t see them. The talkers, talk — but may inadvertently appear more noisy, because they are filling up your electronic in-boxes and alerts with harder to ignore noise.

Then there are those who treat electronic communications as a completely separate field of human expression. They do not transfer their personality, or expected communication norms to this alternative medium. I’m going to call these the “online chameleons”.

The online chameleons splinter off in a variety of unpredictable directions. Some of the more quiet, or even voiceless members of a group may show up as the prolific contributor on a social media platform. A lively, interactive, engaged team member may rarely reply to any emails. The very friendly and courteous may come across as cold and curt in text messages. They appear to be immune to, or untouched by the same pressures that trigger responsiveness, or withdrawal, or connectedness in the real world. These tools are not a conduit to the person we know. The tools either remain very separate utility objects, rather than extensions of their real personality, or they provide a stage for taking on a different persona. It can be confusing.

Which one are you? Do you have one foot in each camp? Do you know? Ask a friend. 🙂


About lynnmorstead

Writing about the small things that shape our lives
This entry was posted in Culture, education, Media, Personal Effectiveness, psychology, Society, Technology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Online Chameleons and Transparents

  1. Rhonda says:

    I think I am an online transparent — what do you think? However, I am also only halfway there, since I don’t see any need for an online device that I take with me everywhere I go, so I generally do email and Facebook when I am home, therefore I am not sharing “real time”, or posting a lot of photos at the moment. I am more cautious with online communications because once something is written, it can be shared freely and easily, whether in email or social media. I think I learned this from work — don’t have a record of something if you don’t want it to come back to you at the wrong time or in the wrong way. I think that is why I prefer face to face, or voice to voice communication, even over leaving a voicemail message or sending an email — NO AUDIT TRAIL!

  2. Tina Doyle says:

    Not. Sure what I sm

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