The anonymous nature of the internet really fascinates me.
Throughout my childhood and middle school, I participated in several online discussion forums and communities (mostly focused on anime and gaming), even starting a forum for a sci-fi role playing/story-telling game at one point. These were great outlets for me to not only express my creativity, but to share what I thought was true but scared to talk about in the offline world.
Since people can keep an anonymous identity online, we see many who are willing to share their deepest secrets and truths with complete strangers online what they would never tell their family and friends in the offline world.
What drives humans to do this? Perhaps to validate their ideas with other humans. To know that someone else is struggling through the same thing or that they’re not alone in their situation.
This is an immensely powerful point. Pre-internet, if we were alone in our bedrooms, we were alone. Post-internet, if we are alone in our bedrooms, we have access to hundreds of millions of other humans around the world.
Since we are highly social creatures, it is very interesting to see how human socialization has evolved over the last couple of decades as a result of the internet’s social functions.
For example, check out this Reddit thread entitled, “If you could be brutally honest with your SO what would you say?” Its answerrs are basically a case study into human relationships:
# I don’t like a lot of your friends… They are tools. I agree to hang out with them because I know it makes you happy.
# When I suggest you pick where we go to eat, I really mean it . . . like seriously . . . really. . . please just choose a place
# For fucksake woman just watch the movie. I see the same things you do so stop asking if I saw that or ask for an explanation on something in crowded theaters, it’s embarrassing.
# Quit typing ‘lols’ when you IM me about something funny, adding that s makes you seem royally retarded.
# I love you. But you are soooo dumb. So dumb.
# we need to lose weight.
# I wish you would take less time complaining, and more time inquiring about my troubles. I deal with obsessive thoughts and high anxiety, and your trivial, dramatic complaints almost doubles my anxiety. I wish you enjoyed sex more, and I wish you wanted it more often. I wish you were more confident in bed, and took charge more often. I also wish you would stick up for yourself. Most of the things you complain about could be solved by just fucking communicating like a human being…
# Just put the fucking keys in the key bowl when you’re done with them, instead of leaving them in random locations throughout the house. I have enough problem getting the kids out the door without having to go on a treasure hunt for the damn keys every day as well.
# I don’t want to be the one who “lights up your life”. You’ve been feeling down lately, and all I want to do is sit in the darkness along side you until you’re ready to come into the light again. Oh, and you eat ice cream abnormally loudly. It annoys me sometimes.
# If he actually showed serous interest in me, I’d leave you in a heartbeat. I’m sorry.
(Credit goes to Ben Casnocha for finding and compiling this list)
With that said, I want to start a series of social experiments online revolving around asking people tough questions like the one above about their life and career and organizing the data points of human thought and emotions in a visually compelling way that reveals a deeper truth about humanity.