I’ve definitely seen Walther’s hyperpersonal “selective self-presentation” at work in my relationship with my boyfriend. In the beginning stages of our relationship, our self-disclosure was most often via instant messaging for the very reason that Walther claimed—“people who meet online have an opportunity to make and sustain an overwhelmingly positive impression.” IM allowed us to carefully process and edit what we were going to say before we committed to saying it by pushing “send.” I would often type on the instant message screen, read it through, delete it and start over if there was something that I said in a way that might leak information that I wasn’t yet ready to disclose.
I have found that once you move beyond the slower pace of online interaction and get used to the pace of face-to-face interaction, it’s hard to go back. For example, after we became comfortable with each other face-to-face, our online communication became almost nonexistent. Now that we are living in separate states, the different pace of online communication has become frustrating.
When talking to people in real life, I have a tendency to not think before I say something, and often I would say something that would be strange, misinterpreted, or even harmful. My mother often called me out on this because it would often be such a common occurrence. However, when I finally got my first phone in the 8th grade, having that asynchronous channel and being able to communicate on my own time rather than having that face-to-face pressure made me more relaxed and thoughtful of what I was going to say. Many times I would have something typed out on my phone, but after thinking it through, I would delete the message and type out something else. I think especially about the second part of Walther’s hyperpersonal perspective involving the medium; being able to edit and contemplate my ideas and messages is especially implemented in my life. Whether it be with friends, family, lab partners, or teachers, I never just send the message. Rather, I plan the message out, read it again, and take out some things if I have to before I click send. That is why on sensitive and risky topics, I would prefer the channel of online communication, due to the fact that the user is given more time and opportunity to present the best message possible, allowing for arguably a more meaningful conversation.