Hello and welcome to this weeks blog post! I didn’t have a group of fellow students to do the cyber stalking, so I am just going to talk about digital identity.
Digital identity is a very strange concept to grasp because when we think of identity, we usually associate things that are within you or apart of you or something you do. With digital identity, it is an ethereal concept that we cannot physically grasp. To have something so intrinsically bound to you, while also having no physical connection to you, is a breeding ground for having an identity crisis. This article suggests that having multiple online identities is completely normal, and I would say that I have to agree!
Generally I try to not associate myself with my online self. I like the idea of being someone else online, especially on Reddit. I am an exaggerated version of myself there, and the things I say are not connected to ME, but the ME that lives in the ethereal web. With that said, I still have to uphold my morals when I am acting as my online self. I would never offend anyone, or do anything that could bring shame back onto myself in real life.
My anonymous online self can study and comment on topics that I wouldn’t want people to know about in my real life. For example, if I were a gay man but grew up in a very religious family, I could have far more freedom with my online self than I would if the things I looked at/comment on were tied back to my real identity.
That can also be a dangerous for individuals who want to be a more vile version of themselves online. There is a reason that website like 4Chan are completely anonymous, as it allows people to be a far more barbaric version of themselves. With that said though, I would much rather people get out their evil feelings online than in real life. It’s like a release valve for people who can barely hold their bad words in. I wish people weren’t like that, but I think that would be far too idealistic.
There is a certain danger to having your real life identity tied too closely to your online identity. As this video suggests, one tweet can absolutely destroy your life. For some people, this is completely justified. For others though, your life can be completely ruined by a lie that someone else said, or by you simply not articulating your words well enough and a misunderstanding being born because of it. Having these identities too close can be a nightmare!
For a thought exercise, imagine that Trump only went online anonymously. I think the American people would be far less likely to be embarrassed on a weekly basis. He could be his vile self and nobody would know. Some would say that it is better we know about these people’s real thoughts. However, I would argue that our online thoughts do not accurately reflect our real thoughts because of the disconnect between reality and the ethereal web. We can shoot things out thinking that no one will see it, so why should it matter.
There’s no right or wrong answer to any of this. This is just one man’s ramblings about a topic that I am by no means an expert in!