Identity on the Internet

Identity on the Internet is a weird thing. I follow quite a lot people on Twitter, read dozens of blogs and I am on Facebook regularly. At the beginning it was easy. I could easily make the mental connection between someone’s Twitter account and his blog for example. But the more people I was in contact with, the harder it got.
There were situations where I found out that two of the people I thought to know were actually only one person! And this happened more than once. Or I confused two people because of similar nicknames. That once again proved me that identity on the net is not the same as in the real world. Your online persona may be almost completely contrary to your real self.
On the net your nickname (on a forum or Twitter for example) combined with your avatar is the first most people see. And they probably already have a certain mental image of you at this moment. This image may be close to the truth or completely wrong. Usually the image people have of you gets clearer the more contact they have with you, but this is not always the case.
Things get even worse when people have to change their online “face”. Change your avatar, your blog’s theme or even the nicknames you use, and suddenly your online identity changes.
In a way who and what you are on the net is pretty malleable. And often it’s impossible for others to perceive who you really are in real life. This is sometimes a boon, sometimes a curse. The important part is that one realizes that the identity on the net is a complex thing.


3 thoughts on “Identity on the Internet

  1. I get this quite a bit. On Twitter I have my dicebag account and my personal account both with different avatars in an attempt to separate them but for many years I’ve also used a headshot of Spoon from the film Dog Soldiers as an avatar on almost any forum I’ve been on.

    For years people that met me thought the Spoon photo was actually of me until they seen me irl.

  2. This is why I’ve abandoned all nicknames and handles, admitted to myself that internet privacy is an illusion, embraced ownership of and responsibility for what I say and do, and only use my real name and my actual photograph (with few exceptions) on the internet. It eliminated confusion, as well as forces me toward a higher level of quality and integrity as I cannot hide behind a pseudonym.

  3. Pingback: World Domination: Identity and the Internet « Berin Kinsman's Dire Blog

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