Digital interpersonal communication gives users unprecedented opportunities to project an online image of themselves that is very close to their idealized rather than actual self. Moreover, those who perceive the user indirectly, only through that digital identity on the screen, fill the inevitable ambiguities and information gaps by projecting their own desires and fears on it. The two processes can add up and make the online relationship highly virtual and separated from reality. The resulting illusory world is neither good nor bad per se: an important point concerns the possible goals towards which individuals orient such social and interaction dynamics.
This keynote talk will shed light on such scenarios, by exploring the theme of illusion in digital relationships, and its possible implications on users’ wellness and mental health. Social media will be the main online tool I will focus on as a case study, due to their prevalence in current digital relationships, but I will also devote some time to consider their possible evolution into the so-called metaverse.
Luca Chittaro is full professor of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) in the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Physics at the University of Udine, Italy, where he heads the HCI Lab (http://hcilab.uniud.it). He has co-authored over 200 international publications that have received more than 10000 citations in the scientific literature, and he has been an ACM Distinguished Speaker. Professor Chittaro’s principal interests are in the effects of technology on human beings, and in the disciplined design of digital technologies for human use. He particularly focuses on systems to train people in facing risky and stressful situations, and to promote positive attitude and behavior change in users, especially in the health and safety domains. He has led projects funded by institutions such as the US FAA and the EU.