If you’re active online, then you’re all too familiar that who we are online is totally different then who we may be offline.
We communicate differently online, which comes with its own pros and cons. We can take advantage of these pros while minimizing the negative impact of the cons.
For example, communicating through text is very different than communicating through voice. There is a plethora of lingo that we use that originated from text communication:
- Lol, brb, ttyl, wyd, lmao, etc.
But it’s not just lingo, the flow of a conversation is vastly different. Applications with read receipts take this to another level.
As such, our communication adapts to this style in order to maximize the value of that medium.
The question is; did we create a new way of communicating or did we sacrifice what we had? I think it’s a bit of both.
Here’s how I would visualize it:
You only have a set amount of resources, in this case it’s your attention. Here we give it a maximum value of 10. One unit of resources = one unit of value.
When we introduce the “internet personality”, the maximum value of the bar increases but it comes at a cost of some of the “offline personality”. Since we have a limited amount of resources, we must divert some of our attention from offline to online. Simply put, we need to spend time on the internet.
The real benefit I see here comes down to the theory of diminishing returns. Although you sacrifice one unit of offline personality, you increase the maximum threshold. That one unit of resources has potential to bring 2 bars of value. Since there is potential to communicate in a different way, our first unit of investment in this alternative medium will bring us maximum added-value.
Theory of diminishing returns, car example:
You buy a car. You can now drive places, carry lots of stuff, and do car things. Lots of added-value.
You buy a second car. Maybe it looks better and it’s faster. The added-value of the additional car is limited to just that, looks and speed.
Each additional investment brings less relative added-value. The opportunity cost of not having an online personality is the ability to express yourself in new ways. Being able to express yourself in a new way has high potential to bring more added-value than expressing yourself in the same way.
Theory of diminishing returns, car example continued:
You have one car but now you want a motorcycle.
You buy a motorcycle. Now you can lane-split, saving lots of time on your commute.
Although you already had a form of transportation, the motorcycle gives you a unique added-value that a car would have never been able to.
The same applies to investing time into an online personality. You can only be in one driver seat but you can use the one most appropriate for the situation.