The Wave Function Collapse is a phenomenon in which the physical possibilites of a particle are reduced to a single possibility due to an observer’s presence.
I posit that personalities function in much the same way.
When a person is known only via indirect means the mental concept of who they are in the mind of others is far reaching and because there are few cues to anchor them down as a whole the imagination runs wild with every bit of information. The online personality is extremely malleable unlike the direct one experienced face to face. Only a fraction of a person is represented when the contact is indirect and so the mind must automatically fill in the gaps without solidification and they continually conform and expand to whatever information is presented without limitation. In direct contact however due to the now represented characteristics, more information can be gathered and the ratio shifts in the concept of who they are as a person, the previously unknowable aspects are now on display . When the person is directly observed the possible personalities collapse into one stable concept and they cease to be just an idea.