Should you have multiple online identities – or any at all?

Online identity is the public information shared about a person and it is proving to be evermore important in the modern day, especially with a lot of first impressions being from social media or online activity. Due to this, it is with increasing importance that we understand that what we share about ourselves online is publicly available not just to friends but to potential future employers. With this new sense of self exposure it is important to either keep your personal identity separate to your professional identity; this presents the idea of a single person with multiple online identities.

Aleks Krotoski wrote an article about authenticity and anonymity which described the perks of being able to create an anonymous identity online, spared from the repercussions of attaching a real name. This peaked in popularity when forum based networks were more commonly used. Yet now, with ever more invasive social networks all wanting to be linked and connected the idea of an anonymous identity is fading. Posting under a fictional name may allow a person freedom of expression and an ability to display a side to them that they may be anxious to expose offline.

Both single and multiple online identities present issues as having multiple removes a sense of authenticity as it seems a side of a person is hidden, whereas having single might mean information is shared that should be not be disclosed.  Costa and Torres describe the issue well in two questions,

“How can we keep a single identity closed, when professionally it is arguably much more beneficial to keep it open? Or how do multiple identities fit in with the credibility of our identity?”

David Baker for BBC News talks about whether having a social online identity is actually beneficial as connections online can be non-genuine. The pressures caused by exposing your entire life for judgement by “friends” change someone’s online personality to make them less likely to show a true representation of themselves online which creates a lack of authenticity through most social interactions.

I feel I am yet to display multiple identities online yet I will in the near future as I develop an online professional profile. Despite this I try to be careful due to the complications of having a single identity by thinking before I share information and images due to potential future repercussions. The diagram below shows how I plan to split my multiple online identities in the future.

SocialProfessionalVenn.jpg
Diagram created with easel.ly

References

“To be or not to be? The importance of digital identity in the networked society” – Costa and Torres (2011)

How disconnecting the internet could help our identityhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-35895719

Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important? – http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity

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3 thoughts on “Should you have multiple online identities – or any at all?

  1. Hi Chris,

    I can see from your post that you have done a lot of research and incorporated it into the body of your blog.

    In your end paragraph you say you are yet to display multiple identities and this will probably develop in the near future once you have a professional portfolio. However, I would argue with this on the basis of this module. You will have had to create an online identity of some sort for your blog when you registered for WordPress, Twitter and Gmail. In a sense these are already starting to form part of your professional portfolio which you speak about. I would be interested to know where you think you are in regards to your online identity? Do you think it is measured similarly to digital “visitors” and digital “residents” (on a continuum)?

    I look forward to your next post!

    Emma

    Like

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