Monday, May 19, 2008

Internet Personalities

I've been a conversationalist on the internet for a few years now. By that I mean I talk to "total strangers" via forums, social networking sites, blogs, and occasionally, email. I can't help but analyze lots of things in life, including how people act on the internet. Of course, I don't claim to have met anything like a cross section of the people out there, as I've been pretty picky on where I've spent any time. Even so, I've met a variety of personalities and I'm beginning to form these internet personality types:

The alpha-male: strong, intelligent; runs the show; the topic isn't settled until he weighs in; not likely to admit he is wrong.

The debater: very intelligent, geeky, well-read; lives to argue about any and everything; can argue one side of an issue successfully, then turn around and argue the other side just as persuasively; has no problem running rough-shod over anyone in order to win an argument.

The yes-man/beta male: a minor player; defers to the alpha male; rarely has his own opinions, but may be skilled at restating the opinions of the alpha male.

The ladies' man: very self-centered; uses colorful language; often reminds his readers of his physical assets; has a view of marriage that is, shall we say, shallow; finds sexual innuendo and double entendre in any normal conversation.

The peacemaker: skilled at diverting attention to a tangential topic during a heated argument; often see both sides of an issue, but doesn't really like confrontation, so states his opinions with equivocation.

The whiner: insecure in his opinions and unable to state his position clearly; blames other people for his troubles; eventually notices that no one is paying attention to him or taking his opinions seriously.

The stalker/peeping Tom: this milquetoast has no life--at least none on the internet--so he lives vicariously through the words, acronyms, and emoticons of others; sometimes he asks questions, but seldom contributes anything of substance to a discussion.

The manipulator: skilled at getting what he wants by being "nice"; waits patiently for the right moment to speak in order to trip up others; is offended when shown his opinions are weak.

Some other observations about socializing on the internet:
  • I used the male pronoun in the above list for a reason--there are way more men on the internet than women.
  • The typical internet person is male, well-educated, a bit under 30 years old, and self-centered.
  • If you don't have a thick skin, you won't last long.
  • Internet friends are somewhat fickle--after all, they do have lives, and the time they spend socializing with you is leftover time, not primary time. So don't expect too much emotional satisfaction because it likely won't be there in the long term.
  • Not only are internet friendships short lived, so are blogs, social networking sites, and email addresses.

4 comments:

Melchizedek said...

Interesting to see you take on this. i don't think a quite fit any of the categories.

Thainamu said...

Well, I didn't want to make it too obvious! ;-)

Sharon said...

Hey, what about the people who have so much life of their own that they don't comment a lot (so they obviously aren't stalkers).

Guess that type doesn't even qualify for an Internet personality.

Thainamu said...

Yeah, those kind would be real people with a real personality!