Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. New York: Doubleday. Introduction
Wallace, P. (1999). Your online persona, the psychology of impression formation. The psychology of the Internet (pp. 14-37). London: Cambridge University Press. [Read this eBook - MSU authorized users]
Suler, J. (2000). Identity management in cyberspace. Available online at http://www.rider.edu/users/suler/psycyber/identitymanage.html
Suler, J. (2000). The Integration Principle. Available online at http://www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/integrate.html
Suler, J. (2000). Personality Types in Cyberspace. Available online at http://www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/persontypes.html
Goffman, E. (1959). Goffman introduced his book with constructive reflection and discussion on communication among people, such as reasons of why people acquire information of other s and ways of how people express themselves. Expression making and impression receiving are two-way interaction between individuals who give or give off and individuals who interpret them. When communication happens with the presence of face-to-face interaction, the situation is influenced or even defined by the parties' activity. One important point Goffman made is that individuals express themselves not only via verbal assertions (more controllable information), but also through non-verbal actions, such as gestures, eye-contact, tones, facial expression, and other body language (less controllable information), where individuals are able to manipulate the former, but not so to the latter. On the other hand, as witness, people who receive the information will be "likely to check up on the more controllable aspects of the behavior by means of the less controllable" (pp.7). Then Goffman further his discussion to small group settings. He explained that in order to reach a consensus, a "working consensus", that everyone at least agrees on temporarily, each participant is "expected to suppress his immediate heartful feelings" (pp.9). In addition to the assumption that all participants take part in different conversations have their own projected definition of the situation, or schema?, there are chances that various disruptive events happen during communication. People usually apply precautions to prevent the occurrence of the disruption. Also people may apply practical jokes and social games to balance the embarrassment of social life. While reading this article, I get many information supporting that communication is an active cognitive process.
Indentity is the object on the focal point in discussion of "I" or "we" in cyberspace. What we have read in Goffman's article is not all applicable to the present context. As mentioned by Turkkle in his book, Life on the Screen, this new space is "changing the way we think, the nature of our sexuality, the form of our communities, our very identity". What the less controllable behaviors mentioned by Goffman are fading or disappeared in cyberspace. Even though we call it the virtual world, we have no means to present ourselves in front of others physically in cyberspace. Thus all the physical facial expression, eye-contact, gestures or body language are now invisable. The communication still possesses some main content happenting in face-to-face conversation but the channels to experess or be impressed are limited. However, more not less of complexity has been generated by the cyberspace communication. Nowadays, in addition to face-to-face, or phone-to-phone communication, we have screen-to-screen communication, and communication models constructed with a mixture of all mentioned above.
There are different theoretical explanations for persona, one important entry is from Carl Jung. Persona is one element of a person's psyche. As discussed by Jung, persona is what we presented to the outside world. Actually, it is not really ourselves. It is a mask, a mask showing different aspect of our social identity.
Wallace, P. (1999). By explaining real life cases, Wallace interpreted the features of human communication. She applied cool and worm to explain how we feel in face-to-face communication. Similar to Goffman, she observed many non-verbal features people always use in face-to-face communication. By presenting two case study, Wallace discussed the difference of emotional intelligence presence in real life and onlinie space, where it is less acute. Wallace also observed that along with people's familiarity with online communication, as they use it more frequently, social emotional mileage goes futher and people have been developing different ways of expressions, such as online lexicon, and graphic accents, etc. This observation can be connected to last week reading of readership in cyberspace. With all these, online interaction is warmer and more socioemotional acceptable. Then Wallace began to discuss gender and age as two fundamental identity features which are specifically important in initial impression on online communication. In the social cognition and categories, Wallace took a similar way as Suler, explaining social reasons why individuals get together in the same online community. For the rest part of the article, Wallace discussed the phenomena of chat room, home page and email, where she focused on how these works and what kinds of activities are happening there. However, this part focused more on phenomena with less solid psychology discussion directed by developed theories.
Suler, J. (2000). Suler took a breath in interpreting identity issues occurs in online/cyberspace activity. The author applied a psychoanalytical in some part of the article. Instead of presenting multiple examples in cyberspace community, Suler proposed five factors to help readers understand identity in cyberspace. The first is the balance of dissociation and integration. The cyberspace actually provides us a flexible environment where we can personalize the packets of our own characteristics that we are comfortable to present to the external social interactions. Of course, in cyberspace, we all are conscious and unconscious in every moment we are awake. The fact is that we do not know who we are as a complex creature. Cyberspace provides the opportunity to develop certain aspect of who we are and some aspects of our identity that are not identified or noticed in face-to-face activities. To this extent, cyberspace is a land where we discover ourselves while we discover "others". However, for the mental health sake, it is significant to maintain integration of the selfhood. Here Suler introduced his explanation for "Integration Principles".
Suler pointed out that the self as a whole is greater than the mechanical sum of all the parts. As it might be accepted by people that all our activities on cyberspace are overlapped and connected, cyberspace does help to realize that an individual can present different identifications seperatly or even exclusively. In this process, cyberspace has its advantages. For example, individual can enjoy the relaxation without stresses happens in face-to-face settings; and the support offered and received by community on cyberspace may be welcomed and not available in exactly the same way in place other than cyberspace. But again, Suler emphasized the importance of integration. He focused on the connection of online and off-line living, which I think is a way touch the root of the issue of selfhood in cyberspace and physical-social space, the integration of the individual. He provided six suggestions for practice of achieving integraion:1. Telling online companions about one's offline life; 2. Telling offline companions about one's online life; 3. Meeting online companions in-person; 4. Meeting offline companions online; 5. Bringing online behavior offline; 6. Bringing offline behavior online. As we can see, different people have been practicing different suggestions on this list. But not all of them.
Connecting with the first factor, Suler move to the discussion of positive and negative charged psychological energy. The author showed positive attitude towards cyberspace because it can benefit individuals to discharge their negative energy. In the third factor, the issue of identity is raised by means of level of fantasy or reality. Online, individuals have different opportunities to present the real self or just an imaginary persona. This factor is tricky to get through. In the fourth factor, Suler brought up discussion of consciousness and control, which is more depth psychological oriented. The last factor is very constructive by analyziing different media of online life with their corresponding reasons why different people select different media.
Do you see any of the ideas of the readings resonating with your “construction” of your 2nd life identity?
I think people in different stages of this action of construction may resonate differently. But there should be something in common. Goffman's framework of human communication resonate to my case in face-to-face communcation. When I reflect my self on second life, I find his observation is very useful for me to interpret the difference I find between face-to-face communication and that of online. Also, I find Suler's discussion on chosen media happens to me contextually. Wallace's observation on usage of graphic accents and online lexicon vocabulary is very familar in my online activity, also her discussion on gender resonated in my conscious communication with the strangers in second life world.
Questions for Discussion in class
- Does the action of integration proposed by Suler change the feature of cyberspace behavior? To what extent people are really, consciously and unconsciously, concern about the mental health in the cyberspace age?
- More cognitive energy may be applied for online communication because of the specific interaction interface, or the media. Does this cognitive process help us understand and discover more of the selfhood compared with face-to-face interaction? If that is a possibility, why it is that? Is it because this cognitive process provides us opportunity to be consciously asare of some part of our behavior and persona that we ignore in face-to-face communication?
- Cyberspace communication generated different cognitive process than face-to-face settings. But when we talk about this, even in our readings, we have the assumption that the online communication is non-visual and a lot of times non-audio, such as second life. With the presence of visual and audio media, then will the psychological or cognitive difference between online and face-to-face communication change? If yes, why? If not, why?
- While we understand that there are some common psychological and behavioral characteristics shared by people with different ages or genders, there always are differences as a result of experience, culture, occupation, education, etc. Is there any study shows impact of occupation and employment position on people's hanging out on cyberspace? What are the most popular activities adults do online?
- Persona, the maske of the ego, which is the center of human consciousness, is on the focal point of this week's reading. With the enhancement of cyberspace readership, in what ways online experiences may help or contribute to people's discovering themselves and transformation.