Self Presentation On The Internet


Susan B. Barnes

Rochester Institute of Technology

Department of Communication

College of Liberal Arts

Rochester, N.Y., USA



Despite emerging visual technologies, such as the World Wide Web, many Internet environments remain predominately text-based.  For example, people primarily use the Internet to exchange electronic mail messages, chat, or participate in discussion groups.  As a result, when people present themselves to others online they primarily use written communication.  In contrast to face-to-face settings, written conversations disconnect a person from his or her words.  Separation of the physical body from the communication process enables people to create idealized self descriptions, present alternate personas, and misbehave online.   Drawing on my own research (Barnes, 2001a, 2001b) and research conducted by others, including Baym (2000), Stone (1995), and Turkle (1995), this chapter will discuss issues relating to self presentation through text-based Internet environments.