Reflective Summary (Our Online Identity)

Comment 1 – Guo Yixin
Comment 2 – Patrick Wong

The debate on digital identities appears to be a rather intensive one.
But I have to say that the discussions on my blogpost and those on Yixin’s and Patrick’s
had led me to change my view and standpoint slightly.

Beforehand, I was rather adamant that a person should minimise the creation of
multiple digital identities as it can lead to an air of mistrust and lack of integrity.
Of course, this definitely still hold true and appears to be the norm that the internet is going towards.
Facebook is one example of an online social media giant that is trying to enforce this by deleting accounts that are fictitious.

I do still agree that having too many accounts or personas can lead to a negative effect in the long run.
It is never a pretty sight when the identity we are trying hard to keep secret becomes revealed.
But multiple identities can also be a double-edged sword.
While the disadvantages are numerous, the advantages of it are also there for us to make use of.

Take mine for example.
In my blog and comments, I had already expressed how I had on purpose,
kept identity differentiation to a minimum.
And that the information I give out online had been vetted vigorously.
All might seem well at first glance and one might even say that I have a pretty good handle on it.
But the truth is… I had basically dug a grave for myself. (Figuratively speaking, of course.)
Since my employers and friends gets the same information about me online, there are no secrets.
I had neglected to draw a line between my personal and professional personas.
This means that my current/future employer will be able to dig up quite a bit of dirt on me. (Not too much, i hope…)
I had, by my own hand… destroyed quite a few potential job opportunities. (Being dramatic, i know.)
The advantage is that differentiation could help to filter information to the intended audience.
(Which is something i did not make use of. Hopefully over time, I will get to rectify this.)

Multiple identities is thus not always bad.
But we must take care on what information we reveal.
You’ll never know who’s looking.

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Our Online Identity

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In this time period where our lives are largely tied to online interactions,
digital identity has become an issue.
Should we maintain anonymity online or ensure authenticity?
And whichever one we choose, can we enforce that?
And for either of the two camps, depending how you choose to look at it…
Is it really all bad?
Or are there two sides to the coin?

Our digital identity is crafted through a period of time, through repeated use of the internet.
Through the internet, we can unknowingly create multiple digital identities.
Whenever we log on to a website, whenever we divulged our personal details online…
Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs etc…
All of these creates a digital footprint and contribute fragments of who we are…
These fragments combine to create a more accurate profile and inform whoever is looking at it on our true offline identity.
This could pose multiple issues for the average user who might want a distinction between the two.

Identity_new

Whilst this might appear to be a problem for the end-user,
the availability of digital identities is akin to a treasure trove for the business owner.
This wealth of information (buying patterns, interests etc) allows them to identify potential consumers,
target them and advertise according to what their digital identity reveals.
But as always, when taken to the extreme…
it can be annoying to the end-user as it might seem to be a severe lack of privacy.
The user can of course try to stay anonymous by staying away from the internet but honestly,
modern society and businesses is hugely integrated into the internet.
The little things we do (shopping, credit card payments, surveys etc)
all only serve to contribute little by little to the digital identity.

So is it really all bad?
A part of our privacy might seem to be chipped away…
But is it detrimental to our daily living?
Is there any way to prevent the formation of our digital identity other than becoming a hermit?

There is also the issue of purposely maintaining multiple identities.
Having different online personas allow us to represent ourselves in different environments.
We can have one for work which is separate from the one we use with our friends.
While distinction might seem like a good idea, it then lends to the problem of authenticity.
Through a simple search, the different personas can be easily found out by whoever is interested.
Depending on who is looking, multiple personas can raise questions about credibility and create trust issues.

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There are also those that argue that online interactions should be anonymous as it was when it first started out.
Anonymity allows the user to be free and use the internet whichever way they desire.
Anonymity also helps ensure security from potential digital theft.

In closing, I’ll like to offer a suggestion…
Since it has already been established that it is hard to enforce anonymity,
we should then try to have that is close to our offline identity and limit how much information we provide online.

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References

Manage Your Identity
Internet Society. (n.d.).
Retrieved November 3, 2015.
from http://www.internetsociety.org/manage-your-identity

Online identity: Is authenticity or anonymity more important? (n.d.).
Retrieved November 3, 2015.
from http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity

Costa, C., & Torres, R. (2011). To Be or Not to Be, the Importance of Digital Identity in the Networked Society.
Retrieved November 3, 2015,
from http://eft.educom.pt/index.php/eft/article/view/216/126

7 Steps To Building Your Online Identity. (n.d.).
Retrieved November 3, 2015,
from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UlcOX1fZW4&feature=youtu.be

Online identity. (n.d.).
Retrieved November 3, 2015,
from http://www.cc-wdesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Online-identity1.png

Moving your online identity. (n.d.).
Retrieved November 3, 2015,
from http://shapeshed.com/images/articles/indentity_new.png

O’Neill, E. (2015, October 28). Social Media Is Not Real Life on Instagram.
Retrieved November 3, 2015,
from https://instagram.com/p/9VHhoytDXA/