Online Identity, Who are you?

Constructing your social identity online, are you who you say you are? I find this concept quite interesting as in, you can shape the way people see you online, but in the offline world, what you see is what you get. Larsen (2008) undertook a study on understanding social networking and focused on young people and their identity online.  After reading this report, it became apparent to me that even those who participated in the study and claimed to hate ‘fakers’ (Larsen 2008,p.8), where indeed fakers themselves. They fake a perfect existence on the social networking site Arto, by having their friends write testimonials about them and keeping comments extremely positive.

This got me thinking about how my friends shape their existence on social networking sites. We discussed in an earlier tutorial about how people would not upload images onto Facebook unless it was ‘peak’ time, as to get the maximum amount of exposure. Sounds a little bit vain, does it not? But it makes sense, if you want to show people your best photos, and want to get feedback, then maximum exposure seems appropriate. Although it is controversial in theory, you will show your friends only one side of you. Those who monitor their Facebook and delete so-called ‘bad’ photos are shaping how others see them.

Construction of your identity online is a complex concept, in Larsen’s (2008) study these teenagers where most likely not thinking about their identity while they interacted on Arto, whereas in the older generations it is more prominent that people do think about how others see them. This is apparent when I check my Facebook and view pages of people I know in real life. There is a slight difference to how they portray themselves. There is no definitive right or wrong in this sense, but this construction of online identity may not showcase your true offline identity.

Reference:

Larsen, M 2008, ‘Understanding Social Networking: On Young People’s Construction and Co-construction of Identity Online’, accessed 05/04/2013, http://vbn.aau.dk/files/17515750/Understanding_social__networking._Bidrag_til_bog.pdf

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