The 21st century can be defined as the fast paced information age wherein people establish another dimension to living; existing and interacting as multiple pseudopersonalities in cyberspace. The main aim of the study is to provide a description of a group of people known as 'Generation Xers', who develop cyberspace culture whilst interacting in chat-rooms. It is a two-fold process; firstly they create on-line 'pseudopersonalities' different from their off-line ‘normal’ personalities, and secondly they share unique values that characterise cyberspace culture globally. The research process starts at the microlevel where individuals interact with each other in chat-rooms. On the mesolevel unique interaction patterns develop in chat-rooms that differ from traditional face-to-face interaction patters. On the macrolevel, cyberspace culture and specific values develop that Generation Xers share on a global basis. During the research process quantitative and qualitative methods were combined in order to compliment the limitations imbedded in each methodology. Summarising relevant theories, on a microlevel the developmental process of pseudopersonalities is described by starting with its manifestation in the off-line world. The Johari-window and Roger's person-centred approach are used to describe the same process in the on-line world. On a mesolevel, differences between computer-mediated communication and face-to-face communication are discussed within the Cyber Psychology paradigm. On the macrolevel, the Internet experience is described by means of the Symbolic Action Theory. The All Media and Product Survey (AMPS) database forms the basis of the longitudinal, statistical profile of the South African Internet-user population. Currently Internet access figures remain low at around 7-8% of the total population. South African Generation Xers, aged 16-49, are the richer and more affluent part of South African society, living in major metropolitan areas, earning R12 000+. A qualitative content analysis of chat room behaviour in 384 chat-rooms sheds light on the dynamics behind their usage patterns. The .co.za-dictionary reflects the creative way in which .co.za-emotion and memory are expressed and negotiated. Pseudopersonalities that are at play in the borderless world of cyberspace continuously reflect issues, problems and struggles of everyday life in South Africa such as racial tension, political struggles and sexual interaction governed by the following cultural values: -- Respect -- An openness to the unknown -- Looking towards to the self (not governing bodies) for direction, resulting in; -- Liberty with responsibility towards the common good, the core of every society across the globe. Finally the applicability of the Internet chat-room as a psychological research tool is explored within the South African context. It seems that although an effective tool for international surveys on sensitive topics, the South African research market is not ready for this tool to be implemented. South African Generation Xers perceive themselves as part of a global cyberspace culture and any distinction between the virtual and the real, does not imply a privilege to either, but rather a connection between the two. In this digital era, cyberspace is an electronic reflection of the way people communicate, interact, share and live life.
Thesis (PhD (Psychology))--University of Pretoria, 2006.