Having an online identity is arguably a very recent notion in today’s society. Internetsociety.org (2011) gives the definition that your online identity is “the sum of your characteristics and interactions – it is not the same as your real-world identity because the characteristics you represent online differ from the characteristics you represent in the physical world”. I have created and inserted an image below explaining the different forms of social media through which I, personally, exhibit my identity online.
The image coincides with internetsociety.org’s definition on account of the fact that each form of social media represents me differently to how I portray myself in the ‘physical world’, thus confirming the fact that having more than one online identity is now a common thing….
A short ‘Tedx talk’ video on Youtube of Jim Broscovich (2011) should hopefully outline some key points clearly. I particularly like the way that Broscovich links this to the term ‘fluid identities’- when online, it’s not so much the number of identities, but the way we use them. I would argue this is positive – we are expressing ourselves in various ways, transforming within different paradigms. As Broscovich says, “the average number of online identities each individual holds is now greater than one” – possibly something never expected when the internet was created in the 20th century. Having multiple online identities allows for adaptation and a ‘contextual barrier’, deciding how much personal information you wish to give away on a certain domain.
On the other hand, by having multiple identities online, there are various issues that are bound to arise. I feel as though privacy and identity fraud are the main drawbacks of the recent phenomena. Costa & Torres (2011) belive that in the present day and age, having access to various sites allows us “to easy-publish photos and documents,” as well as “participate in discussion, and create personal spaces”. They argue “the concern is that individuals are exposed – we can even argue that despite being more connected that ever before we are equally much more vulnerable.”
And this is true. We are more vulnerable. Creating fake Facebook accounts in order to ‘catfish’ someone, for example.
This is all new – and it’s frightening to think of the damage that can be done in the future . But isn’t it true that the majority of us all have multiple online identites? Does this mean that a large proportion of us are ‘catfishers’? The answer is no. Having multiple online identities can refer to any number of things – two seperate email accounts, or two twitter accounts. It’s not how many online identities you have – its how you use them. The internet is growing day by day, and the opportunities are endless.
- “An Overview Of Identity”. internetsociety.org. N.p., 2011. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.
- Costa, and Torres. “To Be Or Not To Be, The Importance Of Digital Identity In The Networked Society”. (2011): n. pag. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.
- NPR,. 2014. Web. 25 Oct. 2016.
- Youtube,. Catfish: Meeting The Girl In The Pictures. 2011. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.
- Youtube,. Tedx – Digital Freedom. 2011. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.