Online identities, this has been a conversation point for as long as I can remember. Online idents usually have a poor reputation and one often generalises that an online identity is almost a negative phrase. It should only be brought up in references to illegal or immoral actions such as cat fishing or internet fraud.However, your online identity covers all your interactions and digital presence across the web.
Firstly, let’s look to the early 1990s where the web had only recently been developed. Interactions between users was not widely used or adopted. When interactions did occur, they were almost always anonymous and not completely in real time.
Looking towards the millennium we see that a multitude of online social networking sites have been developed and have started to become widely adopted. Personal information had now been put on to the web openly for other members of the public to quickly and easily access. Looking at today’s digital landscape online profiles are completely intertwined with real names and day to days’ actions. Within, an instant someone can usually find out where you are or what you have been up to by simply looking at their online profile. Through the creation of social networking it can be argued that personal privacy has exponentially decreased. Due to modern day changes “Users have formed a single public identity that’s version of their offline past, the online present and their combined future” (Krotoski, 2012)
A way in which one can regain a degree of privacy would be creating multiple online identities. Multiple identities can allow you to separate your real life from your digital life. It enables you to separate different personas and different personalities. This enable those to regain privacy as it means they can separate their social interactions to their work actions. (Henry, 2012).
Enabling anonymity has both benefits and disadvantages when looking at its possible uses. Looking at it from a beneficial point of view, having anonymity for example means that journalist or other members of the digital press can express their opinion and beliefs freely without fear of repercussions. (Marcus, 2007)
However increasing anonymity through multiple online identities means inauthenticity can increase. People can hide behind a false identity leading to misrepresentation on the web deceiving other users. This adds to the inauthentic nature of online identities that has led to its poor generalised reputation. Many believe it largely due to online personas that the prevents the development of meaningful connections with others online. (Seife, 2014)
To conclude I believe that we must meet somewhere in the middle. At this current point in time it is incredibly difficult to separate one’s online identity to their offline identity. We must instead be selective about how much we reveal online. Many feel multiple identities allow for the separation of a social and professional persona however we must be more careful about how much of our single identity is freely available on the web.
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Krotoski, A. (2012). Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity
Henry, A. (2012). Should I Keep My Personal and Professional Identities Completely Separate Online? [online] Available at: http://lifehacker.com/5898370/should-i-keep-my-personal-and-professional-identities-completely-separate-online
Seife, C. 2014. The Weird Reasons Why People Make Up False Identities on the Internet | WIRED. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.wired.com/2014/07/virtual-unreality-the-online-sockpuppets-that-trick-us-all/.