When I was in my teen years, I remember getting upset when people try to ‘label’ me based on what they know, especially if the label wasn’t what I thought of myself. Truthfully everyone gets a little defensive, that’s why we work so hard to create good first impressions and consistently maintain a certain image we see ourselves as. Today we’re talking about managing online personas in particular.
Using the photo above as a representation, I believe that a large portion of what our eyes see online, is what other people WANT to show. Christopher Poole, Time’s most influential person of 2008 suggests that humans being multi-faceted demonstrates different parts of themselves according to different expectations, thus the multiple online identities. It looks into this idea of separating identity further and sees it as a way in which you are playing up to what is expected of you on a platform. (Weisgerber, 2016) Just like how majority of information on Linkedin is professional and career-relevant, it may not be the same for Facebook.
Multiple online identities “gives people control, it lets them be creative, it lets them figure out their identity and explore what they want to do, or to research topics that aren’t necessarily ‘them’ and may not want tied to their real name for perpetuity,” says Andrew Lewman, executive director of the Tor Project.
Having more than one online identity in the digital age today is inevitable. However, it is important to recognize disadvantages that may come along with multiple identities and one of which is ensuring consistency of image an individual or company attempts to portray about themselves.
The definition of online identity is essentially the information that distinguishes you from everyone else and some of this information can change over time (Internetsociety.org, 2016). With reference to Allie Sadler, definitely who I was back as a teen would not identify with the current me as well. Something I may have posted a few years back could be potentially damaging to my current image, or in the perspective of a company, affect their reputation. One identity generates multiple perceptions from people, with multiple identities it will only make it more complex.
Personally, I strive for a consistency where people have a similar notion of who I am, offline or online, and across all platforms. Having multiple identities can dilute or diminish the efforts that I’ve tried to create.
Weisgerber, (2016). What if an audiencecould piece. [online] Slideshare.net. Available at: http://www.slideshare.net/corinnew/negotiating-multiple-identities-on-the-social-web/8-What_if_an_audiencecould_piece [Accessed 7 Nov. 2016].
Krotoski, A. (2016). 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 [Accessed 7 Nov. 2016].
Internetsociety.org. (2016). Online Identity Overview | Internet Society. [online] Available at: http://www.internetsociety.org/online-identity-overview [Accessed 7 Nov. 2016].