Gender Anonymityby diana carr, lesSly PEREZ, & FERNANDO BAUTISTA
The Internet is a vast place in the little corner of Cyber Space. When people connect to their social media accounts, an identity is formed in which they are able to express themselves. These identities keep real-life friends notified of who they are on the Internet, without fully exposing their appearances. Some of these online identities keep anonymity about their physical traits, style of dress, and even their gender. Without being aware of a user's real sex or gender identity, how much can these traits be influential in online communication?
Does the anonymity affect the expectation of gender roles?
In 1955, Morton Deutsch and Harold B. Gerard followed the tracks of the Asch Conformity Experiment, which was an analysis Solomon Asch had conducted in 1951 to determine how social pressure from a majority group could affect a person to conform; Deutsch and Gerard took this experiment into the perspective of gender. They have found that anonymity reduces conformity, since the participants would feel more comfortable with the gender characteristics they personally identify strongly with.
Applying these results to the gender neutrality of the Internet, it can be inferred that when users conceal their identity they are allowed to be in a conforming-free zone. When they log into their accounts anonymously as their username, they don't have to follow the expectations of those on the other side of the screen.
Are people more willing to be more confrontational online?
John Suler, a professor in psychology at Rider University, New Jersey, worked with several colleagues on a participant-observation field research to study psychological human behavior online. He discusses what he calls the "disinhibition effect", where people “loosen up, feel more uninhibited, express themselves more openly” on the Internet. Suler believes the digital invisibility of appearances and identities “gives people the courage to go places and do things that they otherwise wouldn't… You don't have to worry about how you look or sound when you say (type) something. You don't have to worry about how others look or sound when you say something.”
Suler continues to argue that everyone on the internet has an equal opportunity to voice him or herself. “Everyone - regardless of status, wealth, race, gender - starts off on a level playing field.” … (Source: http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html)
Does your online voice resemble who you are as a person?
Because people have more audacity with their online identity they are more than capable to act like themselves despite their physical presentation. People believe virtual expression displays their feelings better rather than affecting the opinions of individuals outside of the internet. However, anonymity also allows for people exaggerate another identity that goes beyond their gender expectations.
Suler suggests: “While online people may feel they have more opportunities to present themselves as they would like to present themselves… They may have more chances to convey thoughts and emotions that go "deeper" than the seemingly superficial persona of everyday living.”
On the Internet, individuals worldwide can log online and identify themselves more than what their gender roles may interpret them as. As it coats the user in gender obscurity, this form of communication permits people to overcome what conformity they face offline and act more like themselves. Though, in this somewhat comforting ambiguity, that allows people to express their deeper thoughts that may be seen as malicious or even hostile. In the end, with applied anonymity, the other person behind the screen would see the user as another human being rather than what gender roles would epitomize a person of their sex.