Re: all i learned about internal censors...

Elizabeth Childs (
Mon, 6 Sep 1999 00:33:37 -0700

> My notion is that online romances have the *potential* to be so much
> more honest and true, because those internal censors are turned off when
> online. There is no *reason* to lie, because one has no way to know if
> one is doing any good by doing so.

I think certain types of honesty are overrated. ("What an ugly tie!" or worse yet "What a stupid opinion!") And it's those types that seem to be promoted most by electronic communication.

Some people who have a lot of barriers to intimacy in the physical world may find that this isn't true in the virtual world, and thus can reveal themselves in a way they couldn't otherwise. I know for myself, I'm reluctant to pour my heart out to someone and form a real emotional connection when I can't even tell how they're reacting.

I'm also reluctant to trust people I meet electronically, as I have very good intuition and can usually tell if someone is going to be trustworthy by a lot of subtle cues that I can't get in e-mail.

On the other hand, I have a few far-flung e-friends who I feel comfortable telling whatever I want, because I know there will be no social consequences. They won't tell my friends or start working at my company or run into my dad at the mall.

In terms of romance, I've had several friends who've tried dating people they met online, and it almost never seems to work out. I theorize that when you have an electronic relationship with someone, it's easier to idealize them, and then the reality is disappointing.

One good thing about electronic communication is that it makes it easier for a polite person to ask for help, because it's easier for people not to get involved, so you're less likely to be bothering them. A friend of mine was on a technology forum, and someone posted asking where some of the old posters had gone. One of them posted again to say that he was sorry he'd been absent, but then detailed a terrible personal tragedy he'd gone through. So lots of people were able to jump in and give him some support, whereas if he'd belonged to a face-to-face user group, he probably would never have mentioned it.

> Furthermore, I would suggest that
> those internal censors, which have been exercised every day since
> kindergarten *cannot* be turned off in person. We dont know how
> to turn them off! We cant! But online we can. Why please? spike

Until the invention of writing, a heartbeat ago in human evolution, every single human interaction was face to face. We have no programming at all for dealing with people electronically.

People are extremely attuned to faces and facial expressions. Voices, as well, have a great deal of emotional signalling that accompanies the words spoken. All of that is lost here. Since we can't see the people, or hear the people, we might as well be alone in the woods. Our millenia of primate programming for dealing with people is not as activated. (Well, people seem to continue to compete for status, but that's a drive that's easily sublimated into abstractions, like expensive cars.)

So, after you've met people in real life, does that turn the censors back on in e-mail?

> I myself have made gags [such as giving up masturbation, etc] that I could
> *never* state in the presence of my oldest and closest friends, yet I have
> zero control over how this post will be used. I can forget ever running
> president. {8-[ {8^D

Interesting. I am always aware of the permanence of my remarks, and have often killed a post because I didn't want it coming back to haunt me.

I try never to say anything that Jesse Ventura wouldn't say. :)