There is an “online disinhibition effect” according to psychologists. Because of the “anonymity, invisibility and fantasy” conditions of online communities, we can become disconnected from others even as we can actually be in front of more people’s faces than ever before.

“Freed from the constraints that come with other people knowing who they are, and protected (at least notionally) from repercussions, tweeters can behave in ways they wouldn't dream of in normal life - rather like Ku Klux Klan members, bank robbers or even talkback radio callers.”

See this Sydney Mourning Herald article.

What does this mean for authenticity online?
Do you use your real name on forums?

I believe that over time we will evolve a whole new set of behavioural norms for use on virtual environments. I think that over time, more online identities will be “real” in that they can be fairly directly linked to a real person. The energy involved to maintain multiple inauthentic personas online is simply going to be too much for most people to want to invest in.

Do you think innately most people just prefer to be themselves if allowed to be so?