In this article, we evaluate the ways in which computer-mediated communication (CMC) has thus far been conceptualized, proposing an alternative approach. It is argued that traditional perspectives ignore participants’ everyday understanding of media use and media characteristics by relying on an individualistic and cognitive framework. The SIDE model, while improving on the definition of what may count as ‘social’ in CMC, still disregards the way in which identity is constructed and managed in everyday talk and text. To fill this gap, we offer a discursive psychological approach to online interaction. Presented here are the materials from an online discussion forum on depression. It is shown that participants’ identities do not so much mirror their inner worlds but are discourse practices in their own right. More specifically, we demonstrate how participants attend to ‘contradictory’ normative requirements when requesting support, thus performing the kind of identity work typically obscured in cognitive models.