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