Me, Myself & My Online Identity

In my last blog post I finished with a cliffhanger so I really hope you’ve got your popcorn ready because here comes the climax. In that post I reflected on the time I spent online and if it adds any value to my everyday life. To continue with the reflection and even take the discussion to the next level I will change focus to another part of the subject online identity. 

The winding path I will lead you on today will consist of thoughts on whether my online identity is a part of my identity or not. Hopefully the destination will consist of a conclusion that is at least close to being thoughtworthy in some way. 

Took me a few days to follow up on the introduction.

I am one of the 3.5 billion people with an online platform(Ospina 2019). But does my social media accounts really represent who I am? Am I so called “true to myself” ? Am I the same person online as in real life? Am I funnier on Twitter than face to face? Should I behave in a certain way online?

The questions just keeps on coming. You might have had these thoughts yourself earlier. To be perfectly honest, I have not. Of course I’ve been thinking in terms of which of my Instagram pictures that looks kind of cool before posting and making sure that my Facebook timeline is in a good condition. But I haven’t really been thinking deeper on the average two hours per day I spend on social media platforms. Are they a part of me as a person?

‘The term ‘‘online identity’’ implies that there is a distinction between how people present themselves online and how they do offline. But any split between ‘‘online’’and ‘‘offline’’ identity is narrowing'(Marwick 2012, p.358).

This text (Marwick 2012), brings up a lot of interesting thoughts. While it was written in 2012 we’ve got to keep in mind that a lot has changed since then. It is impossible to ignore the evolution of social media and now I question if the split still exists? Is there a boundary between who I am online vs in real life?

A picture of me looking at my online me. Photocred: Anna Johansson 18 July 2019

Looking at myself and the society as a whole my answer to those questions are no. The online identity is actually one part of who I am as a person. I am responsible for who I am online as well as in real life. One big difference though is that I can actually control how I’m being perceived online whereas its harder in real life. With having that said, it doesn’t necessarily needs to mean that I am the exact same person online as in my everyday life. Even though parts of my “real life identity” will always be reflected online as well. 

The empathy seeker is a version of me that exists both online and in real life for example.

I totally agree with Emma Whatman (Social Media Stories 2019) saying that just because I don’t communicate in the same way online as in real life, it doesn’t mean that my online interaction is not authentic. It is just another way of presenting myself and adjusting it after my audience, just as I behave in a different way talking to my brother than talking to a future potential employer.

And reflecting on my evolution as a person I can draw parallels to my social media accounts as well. Growing older means that my behavior online has changed. If you look at the content and frequency of what I post now compared to 5-10 years ago it differs a lot. Both in a positive and negative way. Because now I probably take myself too seriously which prevents me from posting, expressing an opinion etc. online. Maybe should apply for the job as Mr.Trumps media advisor with that attribute though?

Whereas my behavior online changes depending on age and maturity so does the aim of it. Right now my two most important aims are to keep in contact with family and friends in Sweden and try to reach out to potential employers. However, these two aims, at least the second one will not be constant and therefore probably replaced by something else if i look 50 years ahead.

Or actually when I think about it, when I’m 76 I would just love to sit on my wineyard in Italy sipping on some Cabernet Sauvignon while playing Snake on a retro Nokia 3310.

So the windy path has finally reached its dead end. I could probably go one for another 800 words but restrictions are restrictions, right? This post has made me think deeper about my online identity, hopefully you feel the same. Thanks for reading and yes the online identity is a part of who I am!

References:

Marwick, A 2012, ‘Online Identity’, In Hartley, J., Burgess, J. and Bruns, A. (eds), A Companion to New Media Dynamics, pp. 355-364, retrieved 12 December 2019, http://www.tiara.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Marwick_Online_Identity.pdf.

Ospina, O.E 2019, ‘The rise of social media’, Our World in Data, retrieved 10 December 2019, https://ourworldindata.org/rise-of-social-media.

Social Media Stories: Authenticity – Episode 4 2019, Spotify, Adam Brown, 11 February, retrieved 8 December 2019, https://open.spotify.com/show/55SqFCG1Ju5U726shf7C3w?si=GUxjwEZLRXuq7Z9_E02NeQ.

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