Is the internet damaging your personality?

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  • With celebrities increasingly coming to virtual blows on social networking sites, Marie Claire asks: Is the internet bringing out our dark side?

    Have you ever fired off an angry facebook update or posted a cutting tweet without thinking? Well, it seems you’re not alone, as celebrities and civilians alike are using social networking sites as their virtual brawling ground.

    Recently, columnist Julie Burchill accused Lily Allen of being an ‘over-privileged cry-baby’, to which the pop star then retaliated on Twitter that Julie was ‘an ignorant and bitter old troll’.

    Meanwhile Piers Morgan and Rio Ferdinand were reportedly trading insults for several hours on the same social networking site.

    So what is happening to our society? Are we simply becoming more uncivil by the day, or is the internet bringing out our darker side?

    Elia Aboujaoude, a doctor at Stanford University’s school of medicine in the U.S believes that many of us are in fact developing ‘e-personalities’.

    ‘Our e-personalities are an uninhibited version of who we are – a collection of personality traits that make us more child-like, impulsive, darker and narcissistic,’ he says.

    Add to this the luxury of online anonymity, making us more confident in voicing opinions. ‘We are anonymous, so it’s so easy to think that what we say has no consequences,’ he continues.

    The speed of the internet and having everything at the click of a finger means we usually act before engaging our brains. It encourages impulsivity, committing acts that we usually live to regret.

    Online shopping, gambling and infidelity are the most common examples of impulsive online activity. ‘These impulses have always been there, they’re just much easier to access now,’ adds Aboujaoude.

    If you’re worried about becoming embroiled in a public slanging match on a social networking site, the advice is simple: think before you click.


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