The Age of Multiple Online Identities

‘The notion that we have just one authentic self is a fallacy’ (Lee, 2016).  In a world where we are provided with a vast array of choices and values, it is difficult to maintain a homogeneous identity. Postmodernists argue that in this postmodern society, identities are ‘fragmented’ and individuals can ‘pick and mix’ elements to create a multifaceted identity (Bradley, 1995). This multidimensional aspect has been amplified with the ever-increasing use of the web, users now ‘seek interaction with like-minded people that they may not encounter in their day to day life’ (Poole, 2010). In the video below, Chase explains that ‘the internet generation carefully curate their online self’ to create desired online profiles that satisfies their inherent ‘validation cravings’.

Essentially, having several online identities is a modern-day example of Goffman’s ‘Presentation of Self’ (1959). Goffman explains different human interactions with ‘Impression Management’, in which people change their approach according to the situation or audience.  In fact, Costa and Torres (2011) believe the internet provides users with ‘a platform to foster their digital identities within their (personal) networks’ as well as ‘develop a social presence to complement their professional profile’ via Linked-In etc. Blogger Ashe Mischief elaborates, stating her pseudonym is ‘a new outlet to share that side of herself’ without harming her future employment prospects. Learning from my previous blog post, it is important not to ‘pigeon-hole’ someone’s online identity and instead view it as a positive continuum which shifts according to the motive of the individual.

my-new-presenta_215_7af71f2fbb450aa763fc03ebd7213610245df892This generation is constantly breaking and challenging socially constructed ideas of identity with the help of the internet, but where does it stop? According to Pew Research Center, 46% of teens with open online profiles have some, or lots of false information about themselves, and with the rise of cat-fishing and online trolls, people are questioning whether having many online identities is completely positive. So much so that, Krotoski argues that there is now a ‘pursuit of authenticity’ as the world becomes more dependent on social online profiles as part of everyday life.

new-piktochart_215_f0048f1a2d543b9eb1b247fb07e0be790429cde9I believe having multiple online identities is mainly positive; we’re able to explore different personality traits and manage different ‘impressions’ according to our online social needs; whether that be interacting with people of similar interests, or for an online university module. However, anonymity can be dangerous and social networks must take measures to ensure that this exploration maintains positive.

Word Count: 400

BBC (2011) Trolling: Who does it and why? Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14898564 (Accessed: 23 February 2017).

Bradley, H. (1996) Fractured identities: Changing patterns of inequality. John Wiley.

Costa, C. and Torres, R. (2011) ‘To be or not to be, the importance of digital identity in the networked society’, Educação, Formação & Tecnologias – ISSN 1646-933X, 0(0), pp. 47–53.

Dictionary (2017) ‘The definition of trolling’, in Available at: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/trolling (Accessed: 23 February 2017).

Goffman, E. (1959) The presentation of self in everyday life. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group.

Krotoski, A. (2012) Online identity: Is authenticity or anonymity more important? Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity (Accessed: 23 February 2017).

Lee, N. (2016) Having multiple online identities is more normal than you think. Available at: https://www.engadget.com/2016/03/04/multiple-online-identities/ (Accessed: 23 February 2017).

Lenhart, A. and Madden, M. (2007) Teens, privacy and online social networks. Available at: http://www.pewinternet.org/2007/04/18/teens-privacy-and-online-social-networks/ (Accessed: 23 February 2017).

Mischief, A. (2011) The pros & cons of your online identity | IFB. Available at: http://heartifb.com/2011/03/07/pros-cons-online-identity/ (Accessed: 23 February 2017).

Rouse, M. (2014) What is catfish? – definition from WhatIs.Com. Available at: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/catfish (Accessed: 23 February 2017).

SoulPancake and Chase (2016) Online vs. Offline self: Who is the real you? | new age creators. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZAkZ4TzSEA (Accessed: 23 February 2017).

Sutter, J. (2010) ‘4chan founder: Anonymous speech is “endangered”’, CNN, 12 February. Available at: http://scitech.blogs.cnn.com/2010/02/12/4chan-founder-anonymous-speech-is-endangered/ (Accessed: 23 February 2017).

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The Age of Multiple Online Identities

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