The mask of a profile

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How you choose to portray yourself online. Photo credit: Amanda Baird

The internet is a place full of opportunities to learn, play, work and socialize. It often gives people the opportunity to be anonymous. This ability to say things online without a face-to-face response can be a powerful tool or even a weapon for students.

In a small sample survey of 17 random students on campus, more than half said that being online meant students could be braver or more upfront.

Melissa Richardson, a junior studying history education, talked about how the internet impacted investigators on her mission. She said it made them “more willing to tell (the missionaries) how they really felt,” including whether they wanted to continue the lessons or not.

On another side, the students interviewed said people would be more willing to stop bullying or to stand up for what they believe in, including the gospel.

47 percent of students interviewed said people would be more willing to use curse words or be mean.

Students say bravery can lead to being fouler online than in person. Johnathan Cromar, a sophomore studying data science said, “It allows people to clown around.”

He said people are more willing to say things online that they would never say in person.

According to ThinkUKnow.org.au, “Some people see social media as an anonymous space where you can say what you like, so they use it as a way of abusing other people.”

Other students agree that people are frequently more brutal, saying things that they know are hurtful because they don’t see ((the)) immediate impact.

24 percent of students interviewed said online opinions would be more political and heated.

Everyone has their opinions, but with no risk of being injured in an argument the contention can rise up a lot more online. Sometimes they don’t even realize the broad audience they have.

Grace Stevens, a senior studying human biology, said it can be a good thing for people to be less afraid of what is “socially acceptable.” She said when people are struggling with feelings in their lives, they need to be able to express them instead of bottling them up. This enables them to get help.

Almost a fifth of students interviewed said that people put their best foot forward on the internet.

They put what they want people to believe online so their friends won’t see everything they deal with in their everyday life.

This applies to online dating. Bri Brandt, a junior majoring in interdisciplinary studies, said online dating is a lot easier for most people. She thought others might say, “I don’t have to look someone in the eye and face that rejection.” She said it could help them with their social anxiety.

Everyone interviewed found ways that it could be used for good or bad. It all comes down to how people use the wide web.

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