Who REALLY are you?

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Do you wear the online mask?

In an increasingly digitally driven age, our personal online identities essentially shape the way we interact within our society; they are our own personal gateways to socialising, networking and they are how we put our ‘best foot forward’ so to speak in order to display ourselves in the best light. They can be quick and easy tools to inform friends and family about upcoming events, birthdays, or even who you’re in a relationship with. Having more than one identity makes logical sense, as it is almost impossible to distinguish all people by just one means or fit every individual into just one box, however my argument is not particularly in favour of this notion. Whilst my thoughts are based on the personal risks rather than the corporation-based ones that involve cookies and data sharing, I am still sceptical about the issues that arise from having multiple identities; anonymous ones in particular.

 

Once again, as claimed in my previous post about digital residents and visitors, purpose is the driving factor in whether or not having an online identity (particularly having several) can be an issue. For example, my LinkedIn profile will display my more academic based and professional attributes in aim of portraying myself as a good candidate to both employers and networkers, but my purpose for using more light-hearted apps like twitter or Instagram may be completely different and therefore I may come across differently. Parallel to this argument, an online Identity may not always be personal; several Facebook, Twitter or Instagram profiles may have a completely separate objective; they could be clothing boutiques, offer catering services or be celebrity fan pages where fanbases can interact, almost creating a sense of an ‘online community,’ similar to the views of Christopher Poole on his creation of the anonymity focused site ‘4Chan’. I have no doubt that the idea behind it is certainly interesting and that it can potentially be an engaging experience for those interested, however this notion that an online identity does not always have to comprise of pictures of my face and explicit details about the foods and films I like lends itself to some dangers. A wired article on ‘the online identity crisis’ points out that ‘there are very few situations where it is useful or even desirable to be anonymous outside of explicitly anti-social or criminal behaviour,’ and this is where I make my argument.

 

This freedom of expression can prove that online ‘no one knows you’re a dog’ as expressed by Krotsky and can often lead to unwarranted aggression through the confidence users feel when acting behind this ‘online mask’; almost like the frequently used term ‘twitter fingers’ as popularised by Drake of course. This open sense of anonymity creates a safety barrier that allows people to discretely abuse rights and subsequently become a masked online user that can now anonymously offend, oppress or even commit online identity fraud as a ‘catfish;’ as explored in the titular MTV Show, confirming the staggering claim made in a telegraph article written on 10 ways to protect your online identity that ‘every three seconds someone’s identity is stolen. From something as little as one anonymous dislike or abusive comment on a YouTubers video, to a large (and anonymous) hate- crime organisation forum of hundreds, the purpose of online identities when misused and abused can pose a particularly large threat to all, and unfortunately over time, the once harmless intention of the online community has been corrupted.

 

Sources:

The Guardian: Online identity – Is authenticity or anonymity more important? 

 

Wired – ‘The Online Identity Crisis’ 

Telegraph: 10 ways to protect your online identity

MTV Show: Catfish

{Just incase you wanted to hear it 🙂 – Drake ‘Back to Back}

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11 thoughts on “Who REALLY are you?

  1. davinaheer says:

    Hi Davina,

    I enjoyed the structure of your blog as it was easy to read and nicely laid out; starting with light hearted benefits then ending with the dangers of hidden online identities.

    Your remark on receiving reminders about birthdays made me smile because that has definitely saved me some friendships at times where I have forgotten someone’s birthday! I also agree with your point made that different social media profiles represent a different part of ourselves and show our multiple identities.

    The last part of your blog is insightful and has made me question the importance and impacts of having anonymous online identities. Although hidden identities can be dangerous, do you believe that people should have the right to be anonymous? Or are individuals taking advantage of being hidden, therefore, the threat of harmful intentions is more severe and so the privilege should be taken away?

    Thanks,
    Davina

    Liked by 1 person

  2. davinaappiagyei says:

    Hi Girl!

    Thanks alot for your feedback. I’m pleased you enjoyed it, found it easy to read and could draw on some similarities you have also experienced. I’m also glad that it has engaged you to think more deeply about anonymity and that it has even inspired further discussion.

    In regards to your question, I would say that it is hard to draw the line between privacy and safety. Whilst it would seem almost illogical and a breach of human rights to have every individuals online activity monitored, people have frankly abused their rights and this liberty and taken advantage as you said. So if the privilege is not to be taken away, it should at least be more rigorously secured or filtered to an extent; a database that can recognise and pick up certain target words, stolen identities and pictures, for example.

    Like

  3. keviniri says:

    Hi Davina,

    Firstly, I’d like to say I found this incredibly interesting and very much so appreciated your humour throughout, especially the Drake reference.

    The post is well laid out. You’ve outlined the different personas you adopt online and the reasons why but also demonstrate from the very beginning your issues with having multiple online identities. This allowed me to follow your argument and understand the motivation behind it.

    I also read the wired article and felt the same about ones motivation for being anonymous. Thus, I agree that some people have abused this privilege but there are also collectives such as the Anonymous activist/hacktivist group that use their anonymity positively. So do you believe there are more instances where anonymity can be perceived as a good thing?

    Thanks,
    Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

    • davinaappiagyei says:

      Hi Kevin, thank you for your kind feedback, I’m glad you enjoyed it and were able to follow my line of argument, I try to keep my posts somewhat interesting and a bit more lighthearted. In regards to your question, I suppose its a concept i’m still figuring out. The corrupted nature of anonymity has made me sceptical, but like you said, in some instances it can be a good thing. Whilst I acknowledge the groups you have mentioned and their use of anonymity for positive uses and subsequently the objective of sites like 4Chan, I still personally haven’t experienced any instances where anonymity has been favourable. So I suppose I may have a slightly biased view on the idea, I just don’t see the benefits of hiding behind an unknown persona.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. quexiaolu says:

    Hi Davina,

    I really enjoy your post. You have strong logic and your post structure is so clear which makes me not confusion when I read your post. I like you have your own position which is prefer one online identity not like me just talked about good and bad. You also did many research and examples to suppose your point.
    You mentioned the harms of anonymity and said that the purpose of online identities when misused and abused can pose a particularly large threat to all. In my opinion which is also mentioned in my post is it is difficult to define disadvantages of anonymity is better than advantages or opposite. There is an advantage is anonymity cope with the fear of exposure and overexposure, It protects those people who wonder say what they want but cannot exposure like the speech of Chinese dissidents, Iranian protestors, and corporate whistleblowers.
    Overall, I like your post so much!

    Xiaolu

    Liked by 1 person

    • davinaappiagyei says:

      Thank you so much for your comment! I’m glad it was easy to follow and not too confusing, I hate reading things I can’t understand, I just completely lose concentration!

      Your point is actually very true and something I haven’t actually considered yet. It is perhaps easy to forget about other societies and their views of social and political expression being in free society like ours. Thank you so much for pointing this protective sense of anonymity out to me, and that it wont always be abused. This definitely a concept I will think about much further in future! Thanks again!

      Like

  5. heilamcheung says:

    Hi Davina,
    I enjoyed reading your post, as it was well structured, easy to follow and there’s good balance between both sides of the argument. I also found the picture with Obama wearing a mask particularly interesting! It made me wander how he might have acted completely differently having an online mask on, inspite of having such a good image and reputation.
    On the other hand, I appreciate how you suggested some personal experiences with LinkedIn, twitter and Instagram. I personally have two Instagram accounts too. While one of them is only open to friends for personal updates, the other one is a rather anonymous ‘foodiegram’ that provides me with a platform to share and exchange enjoyable experiences with all the foodies out there.
    Admittedly, a large threat can be posed to the public if the online anonymity is misused, like how guns being allowed in the States may result in higher crime rates. However, I would like to think that it’s still a good thing to preserve the freedom of expression online to allow for creativity and an opportunity to find a different self, as suggested by Andrew Lewman. But clearly, future education on how to use the freedom of expression and anonymity online in moderation should be highlighted.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Hei Lam

    Liked by 1 person

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