I think I've mentioned before that I have played a few online games in which I get to be a whole new character other than myself. Some of them can be quite fun. Some not so much so.
What I find most enjoyable are the people I meet. Yes, we're all telling fantastic lies about ourselves - mostly with regard to our appearance. For even if we confess our age (which I kind of do - I give a decade) our visual images are generally young - and quite good looking. Mine is compared to the real life me anyway.
I've met people from a variety of occupations and countries. And ages. One of the people I've met is a young psychology student from somewhere in the eastern side of the United States. I actually know the state, but will grant her further anonymity by not revealing it. She said she read about people and their online behavior in one of her classes. There have been studies made. (Of course there have been studies made. There's always a study.)
Not surprisingly, the studies reveal that people are often more the way they want to be when playing these online games. Shy people often find themselves with arm loads of friends. And I suppose weak and powerless feeling people become dominant in the war games. (She didn't say that one. I'm guessing.) Followers must become leaders and I bet some leaders even become followers. And then there are the gender swappers.
I asked this question of her: So, if being online removes the barriers and fears I have in real life which prevent the real me from displaying to the world, does that mean I'm more real online than in real life?
Her answer: In way, yes.
What online has done is remove the visual aspect of who I am - which ultimately has little (nothing) to do with who I really am.
I believe this. Kind of.
For what I look like, and my physical gender, both directly affect my behavior in real life. If my body has limitations then I have limitations. There are places women and can go but men can't, and places men can go but women can't. There are socially accepted behaviors for women which are unacceptable for men, and the same in reverse.
She asked me to close my eyes and envision myself. Who do I see when I look at the me inside my body? In a cooperative mood, I began to list about six to eight character qualities I think I have - but rarely display - in my real life. As I listed them I felt a chill on my arms. Why? Because many people online have used those very words to describe me - without prompting of any kind from me. In real life I don't often get these compliments, even with prompting.
That conversation made me feel happier about myself online. And I realized just how many people online actually seem to like me. And if all of this mumbo jumbo about the real me showing up online more so than in person, then perhaps I am as kind, caring - and likeable - as I wished I was in real life.
Also makes me wonder about the people who are complete assholes in these games.