Peter Steiner’s cartoon depicts the separation between real life and the old web (Krotoski, 2012), but does this distinction still exist today?
Virtual networks were developed in the early 60s. During this time users took a more passive role of simply accessing and consume resources (Costa and Torres, 2011). The previous decade has seen a shift of the role of users within the web, now taking a role of increased interaction through social networking and participation (ibid.)
The web is changing and anonymity is becoming increasingly harder to achieve. A digital presence makes it almost impossible not to have a digital footprint, with websites and apps often only allow use through the creation of an account
“Anonymity is becoming quite a luxury even for the common citizen”
Every time a new account is opened, a fragment of your digital identity is revealed (ibid.), leaving different breadcrumbs of your persona (Chamarro-Premuzic, 2015). People may want to control what is seen of them in different social contexts; hence different accounts may portray different online identities (Vronay), hence creating multiple online identities.
Through researching this topic, I gained interest in my own online identities, and the way in which I am portrayed on the web.
Is there an issue with having multiple identities on the Web?
Having multiple identities online can be considered as positive, due to the ability to control what is seen of you in different social contexts. For example, you want your Facebook friends to have the ability to stay connected to you, through seeing your photos and updates. However, using another website such as Linkedin shows another side to your identity, allowing those to see your professional side and achievements. Multiple online identities allow separation of these two worlds.
However, as easily as I googled myself to find results, others can also do the same. Users have multiple reasons for using the web, both in the personal and professional sphere. Whilst you may have a personal account, it is important to keep it professional, as future employers could Google you as I have myself (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UlcOX1fZW4&feature=youtu.be). Digital identity management is important, as you can be socially and culturally judged based on your online presence (Coasta and Torres, 2011).
Having an online identity allows people to redefine themselves, and separate themselves from reality (Longair). People can abuse this freedom and create an alias (ibid.), this lacks guarantee between someone’s online identity and real life identity. This creates issues of deception, as depicted by MTVs show Catfish.
7 Steps to Building Your Online Identity, [Online], 2010, Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UlcOX1fZW4&feature=youtu.be [accessed 2016, October 25].
Krotoski, A. 2012, Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?, [Online], Available: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity [accessed 2016, October 25].
Costa, C. and Torres, R. 2011, ‘To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society’, [Online], Available: http://eft.educom.pt/index.php/eft/article/view/216/126 [accessed 2016, October 25].
Vronay, D. The Online Identity Crisis, [Online], Available: https://www.wired.com/insights/2014/11/the-online-identity-crisis/ [accessed 2016, October 25].
Longair, R.Social Indentities; Online Versus Real-Life, [Online], Available: http://homepages.abdn.ac.uk/f.guerin/pages/teaching/CS5038/assessment/essays/essays_from_2006/groupC/Social%20Identities.html [accessed 2016, October 25].
Chamorro-Premuzic, T. 2015, How different are your online and offline personalities?, Online, Available: https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2015/sep/24/online-offline-personality-digital-identity [accessed 2016, October 25].
Online vs. Offline Self: Who is the Real You?, [Online], 2016, Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZAkZ4TzSEA [accessed 2016, October 25].