We may have gone out purposely to find the love of our lives on an online dating or chat website, or maybe we have developed a social network of friends quite by chance through our online interactions. But why? Unlike the offline world where we use all 5 senses to gain information, when online we can only primarily use one sense to gain information with - sight. We are also very limited in our use of our sense of sight, because we can't benefit from the normal cues we pick up through non-verbal communication. We can see words that are typed, we can see someones avatar if they choose to post one and we can watch video or see someone through a webcam. If using a webcam or video we can also use our sense of hearing, but the majority of online communication is through words on a screen. We can't pick up each others pheromones, we can't communicate via our eyes, we can't communicate via gestures, intonation or tone of voice, we don't know how it feels to hug that person or give them a squeeze of the hand. Consequently, we miss out on huge chunks of information about other people that we would normally have.
Online Dating Pew Research Center
Various studies have been carried out to explore how much of our communication is verbal as opposed to non verbal. One study shows that 98% of communication is through non verbal means (including body language) and only 7% down to verbal communication. So online, we're stuck with having to try to do all of our communicating (both listening and speaking) with 7% of the tools we would normally use. This is a bit like trying to fix a car with only a hammer and one socket wrench! Just look at the static image on the right.
It looks like it's moving, but it's not - the way the image has been designed tricks our eyes into seeing movement when there's none. Who's in front of the screen and who's behind it? Who are you on the internet? Are you you? Do you show all aspects of your character and personality or just parts of yourself?
6 Online Dating Mistakes to Avoid Mashable
Even if you feel you show all of yourself, do others interpret what you present in the way you'd like them to or are there many misunderstandings about what you mean and who you are? Who are the people that we talk to online? What can we really glean about someone from what they type? Who is looking back at you from your computer screen? Is it the person you are talking to or simply an aspect of yourself that's being reflected back at you?
How can we tell the difference? In particular, I want to look at psychological defense mechanisms. We all have our favorite defense mechanisms that we use both on and offline, but from my experience the following ones are the defenses that we are most likely to use online. Notice that I include myself in this! Even after studying psychology, sociology and counseling for many years I'm certainly not immune to using defense mechanisms - I may just be slightly more aware when I have used one.
Simply put, projection is placing our unacceptable emotions onto someone else. The emotions, thoughts, or beliefs we project onto others tend to be ones that we deny we possess. We see others carrying out the behavior instead of ourselves. The faceless world of the web enables us to project our stuff onto others far more easily than in the real world and to get away with it more often, since there's rarely any challenge or consequence. In simple terms idealization and devaluation means having a strong tendency to see things (and people) in black and white terms - as either all good or all bad.
When idealizing someone, we are unable to see them as a whole person with both positive and negative qualities. We only see the good parts.