Too many ‘me’?

tenor

Online identity can be a problem. Much to the dismay of vast numbers of the online population, there is no real way to choose who sees which aspect of your online identity, which can be socially or professionally troublesome. So what is the solution? Should you create more than one online identity and flit between them when the need arises?

No, you shouldn’t. In my opinion, and experience, at least. But I’ll get to that.

The crux of the matter is that some people choose to share ‘compromising’ or irresponsible aspects of their social life on social media, which can in turn shape their own identity, and in today’s online world this can be immediately available to employers and other people whose regard for an individual can be influenced by their online presence.

This leads to the creation of a separate online identity. The online world is increasingly being used for unavoidable networking and self-promotion, and having a separate identity that embraces this can often provide some sort of solution to a complex problem, given that the real clash of interests for your digital identity are between professional and social desires.

There are obviously merits to embracing this mutual exclusivity. Having a very private ‘social’ online identity can allow for a more care-free attitude to self-censorship. Different people require different things from their online presence, and this is beautifully outlined by Soumitra Dutta, who observes the best social platforms and individual goals to achieve certain digital goals. It can be easy to tailor your online identity to your goals if you divide yourself between social and professional identities.

However, Dutta does not consider that it is certainly possible to competently manage your overall online identity without having to divide and conquer. It is my opinion that there is no way to truly be sure that your separate online identities remain as such, and that it really isn’t so hard to maintain a responsible digital persona. All of my own social media accounts and profile are well managed and portray me as I would hope to be seen in real life.

This slide show offers an insight into what I believe certain platforms are designed to be, and how I use them:

To avoid the need for multiple online identities I believe that education in online behaviour from a young age will be crucial as the digital world becomes increasingly synonymous with real life. With sites such as Reppler aiding in this process by monitoring your social media accounts for inappropriate content or security risks, there is no way to advocate the appropriation of multiple identities.

reppler

 


 

Referenced work:

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,  pp. 47–53.

Dutta, S. (2010) ‘What’s your personal social media strategy?’, Harvard Business Review, 88(11), pp. 127–30.

Krotoski, A. (2012) Online identity: Is authenticity or anonymity more important?, The Independent, 19 April. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity (Accessed: 25 October 2016).

GIF from tenor.com

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12 thoughts on “Too many ‘me’?”

  1. Dear Will,

    Great blog, I found this very engaging as it expressed your point of view throughout giving it a more personal feel. The slide share incorporated is brilliant, showing you have quite a wide range of social accounts usage.

    Where you say that, you don’t think one would need to have more than one online identity to flit between, how about the scenario someone is a blogger or online debater over controversial topics such as the U.S election. Such opinions can cause controversy in the work place, hence it may be better to do this being anonymous or under a different name.

    (A link to a debate forum with anonymous users)

    http://www.createdebate.com/debate/show/While_election_day_is_3_months_away_if_you_had_to_vote_today_who_would_you_vote_for

    Furthermore, what if an individual enjoys sharing an activity they participate in that their family might not approve? They could use Instagram for that and avoid it on Facebook which they may have family on?

    Nikhil Anand

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    1. Hi Nikhil,

      Thanks very much for your feedback, you raise a couple of very interesting questions about potential uses for multiple personalities. As you mention, many people use anonymous or fake identities to discuss controversial topics under a pseudonym that will not affect their personal lives. I have a couple of opinions on this, the first of which is that if an individual feels their beliefs may cause controversy and are looking to avoid this, I believe it would be better to simply remain publicly impartial and refrain from comment. Many YouTubers and bloggers have chosen to publicly state their intentions not to disclose their own beliefs during the course of the US election so as to avoid such a divisive topic.

      However, if it were the case that an individual believed strongly enough in a cause or political party, for example, to participate in public discussion, I believe this should be done with no illusion or anonymity, as it is clearly a defining quality of the person. The need to hide behind a false persona online for fear of being held accountable for your opinions is a notion I do not subscribe to. This is much the same on, to take your example, Instagram, as I personally can’t see why the risk of your parents potentially finding this content anyway is outweighed by the need to let others see what you’re doing in return for social gratification.

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  2. Hi Will,

    This was really enjoyable! What stood out to me and made me click your post was your funny GIF and your use of a wide variety of multimedia from pictures to videos to slides was a very interesting and unique way to support your points.

    The way in which you structured your blog from a strong and challenging introduction to an equally strong conclusion is effective and your argument is clear and concise throughout. Your conversational tone and way of writing makes for a very nice, easy and engaging read. I can definitely relate to your personal references and how every individual would use platforms differently, this sense of differing purpose is a concept I touched on in my own post also.

    I found your reference to ‘Reppler’ interesting as it is a concept I touched on briefly whilst referring to one of the comments made on my own post. I agree that monitoring online profiles can be helpful to some degree, but where do you think the line should be drawn between safety regulation and being borederline intrusive? And do you think sited like this should be voluntary (so every individual chooses to use it) or compulsory (every online profile should be monitored regardless?)

    Like

    1. Hi Davina,

      Thanks for your kind feedback, it’s a topic I really enjoyed writing about and I think it’s clear that we share many of the same perspectives on online identity.

      With regards to Reppler, and other similar sites, I think it’s true that there may be a tendency for these monitoring services to take on and air of overbearing ever-presence. In today’s society and cultural fear of ‘Big Brother’ supervision I think it is unlikely that there will be a constant observation of people’s online existence, but there is a justification for suggesting that the influence of your social media presence on your career prospects are already leading society in this direction. For the time being I am wholly behind individual privacy and the avoidance of a culture of constant scrutiny.

      However, if we entertain a dystopian forecast of the next 50 years or so, I can certainly see a climate in which the advancement of technology allows for an unavoidable network of monitoring. If you’re interested in this unpleasant future, ‘Black Mirror’ on Netflix is a dark, satirical drama depicting such a world through a series of stand-alone episodes, and Episode 1 of Season 3 portrays a society in which every single individual is constantly rating one another through a public 5* based system. It’s a fascinating, if entirely depressing insight into what we could experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Will,

    I like your notion that people in today’s society use their online identity as a way of “networking and self-promotion”. It reminded me of a video explaining how humans can be addicted to social media due to the little effort leading to social rewards (e.g. “likes”).

    I agree that we now live in an age where human resources are hired to “stalk” your online identity, in fact it was found that “1 in 10 job seekers between the ages of 16 and 34 have been rejected for a job because of something posted on their profiles.” (BBC 2014). I feel individuals in our generation have not grasped that once something is online, it no longer belongs to you; or they do not realise the consequences a controversial post may have, verbal or visual. I will visit Reppler to ensure my online identity discounts any inappropriate content.

    Tiffany

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  4. Hi Will,

    This was a really good an interesting blog.

    I liked the use of materials in the blog like SlideShare and the YouTube video, they really add to what your saying and give good contextual background.

    You also developed it further and opened my eyes to a new way in which online identity can be monitored by yourself by using Reppler. I personally haven’t heard of this before and indicates to me maybe a graviton away from multiple online selfs across platforms to one self across all platforms, with no blurred lines.

    This is a really good post, and the feature image really grabs attention due with it fitting well with the title, with there being a conflict in your online identity as you are different across platforms.

    Like

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