Remember the human being…

In the past I used to have on my emails a signature saying something like: “Avatars are computer-generated cartoons with human souls”. I remember people protesting and saying “I’m not an avatar, I’m a human being!” (since then, I’m more fond of quoting Philip’s famous saying “I’m not building a game. I’m building a new country.”).

In certain circles this is known as one of the rules of netiquette: “Remember the human being”. Behind layers of anonymity, there is always someone else, with their feelings and emotions, who is typing behind the keyboard.

Why do we forget this so easily, to the point that we need to write it down as a “rule”? After all, we can very well imagine people’s lives when we read the newspapers or even an autobiography; reinforcing “words” with a 3D graphical representation should even make it easier for us to picture that there is a person behind the picture. But we don’t.

Somehow, we are not “wired” to recognise “people” behind electronic communications. Is it as simple as that?

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