The Online Identity, or Identities?

The online identity represents you, through a collective of characteristics and interactions formed with your digital footprints.

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(Picture Source: Simply Zesty, 2012)

Online identities, the plural, arise when a level of secrecy is wanted. It gives you full control of the information you disclose, where you can be different personas on different platforms. (Krotoski, 2012) With many social platforms available today, it is easy to create multiple identities.

Let’s discuss the arguments for or against having more than one identity.

For: Multiple Identities

Why do people want multiple identities?

Anonymity.

For people fresh out of therapy, it could be beneficial for their wellbeing to leave their past. As Andrew Lewman stated, it gives users a chance to ‘start over’. (Krotoski, 2012)

For people who believe in keeping their lives private, the best way to do it is to separate the private from the professional. (Smarty, 2009)

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(Picture Source: The Undercover Recruiter, 2011)

It is not shocking that recruiters look at the candidates’ social networking profiles. Recruiters are more likely to get an authentic view of the candidates rather than basing judgements on resumes alone.

Naturally, users want to steer clear of bad impressions and portray themselves in a good light. Therefore, they create multiple identities.

Against: One Identity

To have just one online identity will brand you as genuine and trustworthy. This is the implication to be accountable for what is shown and do not hide behind the ‘digital façade’.

Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity

Mark Zuckerberg, 2010

In an interview with David Kirkpatrick, the Facebook CEO believed in authentic online representation. (Zimmer, 2010) Although he backtracked in 2014, many supporters are still aligned with this view of the one identity.

FashionBlogger_banner

(Picture Source: Dressve’s Fashion Blogger Program)

This gives marketers a chance to work professionally with online profiles. Take blog advertising for example. When seeking bloggers to endorse products, marketers are looking for profiles with authenticity. It will reflect well on the brand’s image and products. Profiles with a reachable presence and greater community engagement are preferred too.

(Video Source: miicard’s channel, 2014, Youtube)

The video exhibits a case where the identity creation is abused by online predators. Online predators use fake profiles and prey on others for unethical purposes. Anonymity is coined as a ‘cloak for cowards’ by Jarvis (2011). In today’s age of transparency, it seems that authenticity is getting more important. When people show non-anonymous profiles, it shows greater reliability when linking their online representation to offline being.

I believe one authentic profile speaks louder than many deceptive profiles. Although there are privacy and security issues, I do feel that certain issues can be simply kept secret.

Afterall, isn’t one identity enough?

Do you agree or believe otherwise?

(439 words)

References:

Costa, C. & Torres, R. (April 2011). To be or not to be? The importance of digital identity in the networked society. Retrieved on 3 November 2015, from http://eft.educom.pt/index.php/eft/article/view/216/126

Jarvis, J. (8 March 2011). One identity, or more? BuzzMachine. Retrieved on 3 November 2015, from http://buzzmachine.com/2011/03/08/one-identity-or-more/

Krotoski, A. (19 April 2012). Online identity: is authencity or anonymity more important? The Guardian. Retrieved on 3 November 2015 from http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity

Smarty, A. (7 May 2009). How (and Why) to Maintain Several Online Identities. Seo Smarty. Retrieved on 3 November 2015, from http://www.seosmarty.com/how-and-why-to-maintain-several-online-identities/

The Undercover Recruiter. (2011). How Employers Use Social Media to Screen Applicants [INFOGRAPHIC]. The Undercover Recruiter. Retrieved on 3 November 2015, from http://theundercoverrecruiter.com/infographic-how-recruiters-use-social-media-screen-applicants/

Zimmer, D. (2010). Facebook’s Zuckerberg: “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.” Michael Zimmer. Retrieved on 3 November 2015, from http://www.michaelzimmer.org/2010/05/14/facebooks-zuckerberg-having-two-identities-for-yourself-is-an-example-of-a-lack-of-integrity/

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6 thoughts on “The Online Identity, or Identities?

  1. Hi Crystal, great post! I think you have presented a valid argument with strong evidences. Total anonymity may be necessary in a democracy for the purpose of freedom of expression. But I just wish more people would be brave enough to use their real names when they are expressing their views. At least they should have the courage to admit what they said!

    Similar to your point of view, I think that users who want to steer clear of bad impressions should create multiple identities. However, I think with today’s technology, I think it would be easy to find those account, making candidates more dubious. This is a disadvantage I pointed out on my post. ☺

    Your thoughts extended beyond the notion regarding one identity. I like your how you suggest that having one identity is important in the marketing industry, and how it would reflect on the brands image. Interesting point!

    Like

    1. Thank you for your comment Joey! I enjoyed your post too. I hope my post did show you another dimension of the discussion.

      I agree that there are times where total anonymity is necessary, for the full freedom of speech. We know how consequences can be, especially for non-anonymous users. In extreme cases, some online identities have even made the local headlines for expressing their full freedom of speech on controversial issues. It must be terrifying to be heavily criticised and judged.

      Now that I think of it, I do not think that freedom of expression should encourage multiple identities, instead, it should encourage a discrete behaviour by keeping thoughts private, off the Internet.

      Like

  2. Hi Crystal!
    You’re the few posts that stands for having one identity! I agree with you on having one authentic identity and you’ve also validated your points but I’d like to challenge your belief of “one authentic profile speaks louder than many deceptive profiles”. How do you then define authenticity? I came across this article today: http://elitedaily.com/social-news/former-model-reveals-truth-fake-instagram/1268924/ After certain pressure, this social media celebrity broke down and told her 580k Instagram followers that everything she ever posted was fake!

    I do agree with you that having one identity is enough but how well does this online identity reflect their offline-self? Especially with possibilities of potential employers looking at their profile. Could it be a pretentious personality with their online identity but doesn’t reflect their offline personality? This is partly why I believe having multiple identities is acceptable, provided you are who you say you are. It’s akin to how differently we act around different friends/colleagues/family!

    Still a well written post! Good read of a different opinion! :>

    Like

    1. Dear Mabel,

      Thank you for your feedback 🙂

      I think you have brought up an extremely valid argument, that the online identity or identities may or may not link to authenticity at all. That article mentioned really proved that your online identity does not equals to your offline identity. With that said, I believe we all have to be careful not to take everything we see online for real!

      However I still feel that this is the case of society pressuring this model to be perfect. Whether she has one identity, or many identities, I think that she resorted to having a pretentious profile for the sake of societal acceptance, with more likers and followers for each post. It was her one seemingly ‘authentic’ profile that has gathered her endorsements from different businesses. It may not mean that having multiple identities would solve the issue for her credibility.

      But yes, I agree with you that whether with one identity or more, the validity of what is represented online may be low.

      Your comment has provided me with an in-depth view on the issue of authenticity online. Thank you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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