Reflection – Too Two-Faced to Face?

It’s clear that this is a topic that divides not only personalities, but opinions. At the outset, I was quite clear in my belief that the sense of two-facedness in having more than one online identity is not worth the gain, but what I learned during the writing process and from my colleagues’ own posts and comments has helped give me a more balanced view of the matter. Not enough to change my mind, but to afford me a better understanding.

In Topic 1 I struggled to find useful ways to incorporate different media forms to convey my point, so this week I made a concerted effort to make the most of the wide range of coverage available on the topic of multiple online personalities, as well as my own experience in the online world. This had a noticeable impact on the visual and interactive appeal of my post, and is certainly a technique I intend to carry forward.

Others also took a visual approach, and I particularly enjoyed Tobie’s use of visual stimuli such as Hurwitz’s ‘Meta Ego’ installation, something which I came across in my own research but would not have been able to include as eloquently as he did. He also made me consider the potential advantages of online anonymity for activism and security, concepts I had potentially overlooked.

Similarly, Harry’s post offered a new perspective to me, arguably a more cynical (but no less valuable) perspective. His suggestion that multiple identities allowed for the protection of our personal data from ‘privatisation’ by corporations was intriguing, bringing to the forefront questions of the hidden impacts of choosing, or not choosing, to have multiple online identities.

I was also pleased that my post managed to generate such tantalising discussion, with comments such as Davina’s and Nikhil’s in particular giving me additional questions and angles to consider and respond to, casting a refreshing new light on my own work.

Click here to read my comments on Tobie and Harry’s posts.



Too many ‘me’?


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.




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: (Accessed: 25 October 2016).

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