Who do you think I am?

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].


6 thoughts on “Who do you think I am?

  1. emjw1g15

    Hi Claire,

    I really liked the idea that the video portrays of people online, stating that people are able to exaggerate their lives and draw attention to the better things, making their lives seem more interesting than they really are. I would agree with the video as I feel people on Facebook really only talk about things that will spark a conversation (with the odd exception of the people who decide to post about their dinner).

    I also completely agree with you (and mentioned it in my blog post) when you say it is important to keep your online identity professional (or have measures in place) to ensure future employers cannot see things which could potentially lose you a job offer. Do you think this is the case for everyone with an online identity? Or, do you think as students we are just more conscious of this?



    1. Hi Emma! Thanks for your feedback and questions.
      I do think that everyone with an online identity needs to be careful with privacy management and be aware of the fact that anyone can see what you post. I think you are right in saying that we (as students) are particularly conscious of it as it can hinder future opportunities – a big issue for us when we are job searching. I think as students it can be particularly prominent as we are more likely to have things such as pictures from nights out, which we would not want people to see when trying to appear professional.


  2. Hi Claire,

    Firstly, I really liked your slide show you embedded into your blog, I’d really appreciate it if you could teach me how to do one of my own.

    Your use of media in general was very clear from the start. The blog opens with a video and an image! Was this intentional? If so, why? That said, the video raised a great point, people tend to only highlight the areas of their life that make them seem interesting so perhaps we all naturally create a somewhat different identity online.

    The part where you googled yourself was very interesting to me and I within minutes felt I had to google myself too. The results I found were mixture of good things and bad things for a potential employer to find. If you were an employer how would you react to finding the results of your google search?

    Can’t wait to hear back, thanks in advance.



    1. Hey Zac, thanks for your comment!

      The slideshow I created on powerpoint then uploaded to slideshare, where it then has the option to share the embedded link to put on wordpress.

      My media was intentional as I thought the youtube video would be a good introduction to the topic and quote from the image was an interesting thing to analyse at the beginning. Upon reflection I do realise its bombarding with a lot of media at once though!

      Glad I inspired you to search yourself. I think my social media accounts have high enough privacy that employers would not be able to see much, hence I don’t think they could have much to react to!


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