Figure 1: Some of the Key Ideas in the Single vs Multiple Online Identities Debates
Single vs Multiple Identities
When it comes to online identity, there are many debates on whether having more than one online identity is acceptable. It can be argued from either point, with some saying that the web itself (Costa and Torres, 2011), along with our online identities are multidimensional, just like our real world ones (Krotoski, 2012), so why shouldn’t users reflect this in their online activity? On the other hand important debates over safety are regularly referenced when opposing the idea of multiple identities.
Figure 2: Some of the Differing Views in the Single vs Multiple Identity Debate
Single Online Identity
In some cases users prefer to have just one identity, or ‘authentic self’ that reflects that of their real life identity, (Krotoski, 2012). By having this one online identity, made up from the partial identities created on the sites that we use (The Internet Society) such as those in figure 3, it is thought that you are more likely to be accepted in the online community. I believed that I only had a single online identity, as all of my social media accounts were linked up to one another, and used in connection with each other, until I began this module where I found myself keeping this blog separate from my personal life, as I begun to build up a more professional, second online identity. In this case I believe it is acceptable to have more than one identity, as this is likely to be the case in real life.
Figure 3: Examples of the sites that we use to create online identities.
As previously mentioned, some of us have more than one online identity, which in some cases, are made up of a private identity and a social identity, or perhaps in the cases of anonymous sites such as 4chan, being able to be anonymous, and have multiple identities has allowed for individuals to be themselves and express their views and opinions, without fear (Costa and Torres, 2011). However it also opens the internet up to become a place that can be used for malicious intent, whether this is through identity theft, of creating fake profiles, much like those featured on popular MTV show Catfish.
Single or Multiple Identities?
The internet provides many different opportunities to put a certain identity across, and it’s down to us whether we portray ourselves as one set identity, or adapt it to create multiple ones. Personally I believe that there is no harm in creating more than one online identity, as long as you aren’t creating an identity to intentionally deceive and mislead those that you are interacting with, in order to have the freedom to express your views and ideas.
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Krotoski, A. 2012. Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?. The Guardian
Costa, C. and Torres, R. 2011. To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society. Revista Educação, Formação & Tecnologias. 47‐53
Mier, J. 2012. Fake Identities in Social Media
Nauert, R. Online Personality Influences Real-Life Identity
7 Steps To Building Your Online Identity
The Internet Society Videos: Online Identity Overview, Protecting Your Privacy and Protecting Your Identity.
Lee, N. (2016). Having multiple online identities is more normal than you think. Engadget.
Johnson, C. 2014. Growing up digital: How the Internet affects teen identity
Figure 1: Self-made through Tagul
Figure 2: Self-made using Microsoft Word
Figure 3: Self-made using Microsoft Word