Dr. House said in the well-known TV series that “everybody lies” and the intention of lying is always to protect some of our behavior from a hypothetical reprobation of others. As social individuals, we are permanently exposed to the scrutiny of others: we are judged for our actions, we are valued for our appearance and our position in the social ranking will be directly proportional to the greatness of our ” achievements “. In the physical world the public image of the individual is a construction in which the subject projects (and enhances) the most relevant aspects of his personality and hides or blurs those characteristics that he judges can negatively influence the consideration that others have of his person. Initially, the individual interacts with others in a thin superficial layer in which only a few parameters are available -physical aspect, clothing, way of expressing oneself, gestural language, social behavior, etc.- and which functions as a barrier that isolates and protects the real I from the possible dangers of a hostile social environment. Each individual decides consciously or unconsciously the permeability of this barrier. But this “social membrane” does not only protect against external agents; conveniently manipulated, it can serve for others to perceive an improved vision of the individual, which translates into better positioning or even the possibility of accessing another individual’s protected area through this stratagem.

If in the real world a certain skill is needed to build a consistent and coherent “social membrane”, in the virtual world the absence of a physical reference between the figurative and the real -in addition to a smaller number of properties to simulate- allow anyone to incorporate among their personal attributes and abilities any characteristic previously only imagined in their most delirious fantasies. In both the real and the virtual world, the individual seeks social support in the group, which in psychological terms translates into happiness… Let’s take a look at this point. If the use of the main social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) is free and the funding of these platforms comes from advertising and BigData, it is licit to think that getting a maximum audience of potential consumers would be a strategy not only plausible, but recommended. It would not be surprising then that in the design of the interface of these platforms were taken into account elements of behavioral psychology that favored the addition of users through the introduction of stimulus-reward mechanisms.

The virtual user defines his profile according to his online interests and expectations, which do not have to coincide with those he has in the real world. In “Alter Ego” by British photographer Robbie Cooper, we see how Jason Rowe’s physical fragility translates into a SecondLife avatar in solid, intimidating armor. The user constructs an idealized identity, regardless of physical limitations, with which he hopes to see his existence favored in the virtual world. This virtual identity is assumed by the individual who perceives it as his own and who, by virtue of the cause-effect relationship between the will of the physical subject and the behaviour of the virtual one, will assimilate as his own the triumphs of his alter ego in the virtual world.

Alter Ego (2006) by Robbie Cooper
Name: Jason Rowe.
Born: 1975.
Occupation: None.
Location: Crosby, Texas, USA.
Average hours per week in-game: 80. Avatar name: Rurouni Kenshin. Avatar created: 2003.
Game played: Star Wars Galaxies.
Server name: Radiant.
Character type: Human marksman / rifleman. Character level: 55.
Special abilities: Ranged weapon specialization.