Sharon Reid

 

With the internet dominating most aspects of our lives it is hard to imagine life without it. What is quite alarming is the unguarded way some of us project ourselves online, there has been a few high profile cases where people feel that they can say what they like with impunity – stuff the consequences. Take the recent example of the hapless teenage girl, who had the bright idea of slating her new job; fine to do this amongst friends in the cosy confines of your home at the pub/bar, however to do this over Twitter or any other social media platform – not cool. Needless to say that the girl in question was promptly sacked the day before she was due to start a new job in a pizzeria.

Why do we throw caution to the wind when engaging on social media? Europasat recently conducted a study into the nation’s online behaviour, the results reinforced the sense of invincibility some of us display online.

29% of people believe that their social media platforms give them a mechanic to say things that they wouldn’t usually say in real life

We are all familiar with the ‘keyboard warrior,’ propelled by online anonymity they feel compelled to spout outlandish opinions, along with offensive rhetoric. Now being known for displaying a few outspoken opinions myself I am not advocating the silence of those you may not necessarily agree with, I believe that if you feel brave enough to say certain things online then you should be prepared to voice the same opinions in real life. Brett* 39 typifies the keyboard warrior; in his offline life, Brett is a polite owner/founder of a thriving courier business, and not what you would describe as “confrontational.”

“I love the internet, for someone like me it provides a great outlet; at times I honestly feel that my online avatar is my alter ego, I’m able to express myself in ways that I wouldn’t dream of in my daily life.”

This ‘expression’ includes what some may describe as offensive opinions about immigration and the LGBT community.image

24% of people feel more confident speaking on social media platforms

Online confidence is indeed the driving force for many expressing their outspokenness, like Brett, *Colin, 27 a trainee teacher also feels confident to display his controversial side online. “As a trainee teacher, I could be liable for the sack with some of the things that I’ve written online. A lot of the time I see it as online banter, having said that my opinions are definitely borderline racist and sexist.”

This compulsion to express racist/sexist thoughts or opinions appears to be an antidote to the much maligned political correctness movement, there is a certain sense of wicked satisfaction that comes from being able to say something socially unacceptable, not unlike breaking a taboo.

While researching this item I was unable to find any women willing to speak honestly to me about anything deemed offensive that they had written online, the Europasat study identifies gender differences:

More males than females would state that their social media accounts give them a confidence boost, over a quarter stating that they believe it gives them a mechanism to say things that they wouldn’t usually say in real life, and that they feel more confident speaking via social media

The Europasat study also reveals that younger online users are likely to express themselves more freely:

50% of 18-24 year olds feel that their social media accounts give them a mechanism to say things that they wouldn’t usually say in real life, and 44% say they feel more confident speaking through their social media accounts

The above statistic bears little surprise, after all it would be very unlikely that the teenage girl embroiled in the aforementioned Twitter controversy would have had the cojones to tell her would –be boss exactly what she felt about working in his pizzeria face to face.

For further information about Europasat please visit: www.europasat.com

*Names have been changed