“Can you introduce yourself?”
Sure! Do you want to know the Twitter Teresa, Facebook Teresa, LinkedIn Teresa or the Instagram Teresa?
Your online identity is made up of multiple partial identities, from the persona you create to represent yourself, the interactions you make with different websites (Internet Society) to the identities created by everyone else that has access to your information (Costa, Torres, 2011). Like many others, I possess a number of different identities online. The question is does this do me more harm than good?
This is a section of an infographic by Online Colleges that shows how employers are increasingly utilizing social media in the hiring process.
This phenomenon creates an increasing need for people to create a curated version of themselves online to make themselves more hireable to potential employers. This is when people may decide to apply an Audience strategy where they separate their professional and personal networks, hence resulting in multiple online identities. (Ollier-Malaterre and Rothbard, 2015).
Perhaps, one may think that having multiple online identities will help separate their professional life from their personal. But could they be setting a trap for themselves?
A simple Google search of my name produced a mix result that showed links to my personal blogs, Facebook and Twitter account and professional Twitter account. The Internet does not help you filter out what content is for your professional or personal purposes.
The graphic depicts how well Internet users manage their online identities. (Madden, Fox, Smith, Vitak, 2007)
This is where the danger of having multiple online identities comes in. Everyone, including myself, MUST learn how to manage our online identities, or we may end up like Cella(Flacy,2015), a Texas teenager that got fired from her job about cursing about it on Twitter.
Putting aside the concern about professionalism and employment, one advantage of having multiple online identities is that it allows you to join different communities based on different interests. Danah Boyd, a social media researcher for Microsoft Research said “Different sites, different audiences, different purposes.” (Nicole Lee, 2016) With our diverse lifestyle, each individual has a myraid of experiences that are uncommon to some and relatable to others.
I personally prefer to have multiple online identities as it allows me to express myself and look at things in different perspectives. As long as I am watchful about my words, I see no problem in having varying online identities.
Word Count: 400 Words
Internet Society, Online Identity-An Overview, http://www.internetsociety.org//sites/default/files/flash/online_identity_overview/story.html, [Accessed on 7 November 2016]
Costa Cristina, Torres Ricardo, 2011,To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society, http://eft.educom.pt/index.php/eft/article/view/216/126, [Accessed on 7 November 2016]
Megan O’Neill, 17 May 2012, How to Use Social Media to Land a Great Job Or Internship [Infographic], http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/social-media-job-internship-infographic/97490?red=st, [Accessed on 7 November 2016]
Ariane Ollier-Malaterre, Nancy Rothbard, 26 March 2015, How to Seperate the Personal and Professional on Social Media, https://hbr.org/2015/03/how-to-separate-the-personal-and-professional-on-social-media, [Accessed on 7 November 2016]
Mary Madden, Susannah Fox, Aaron Smith, Jessica Vitak, 16 December 2007, Digital Footprints, http://www.pewinternet.org/2007/12/16/digital-footprints/, [Accessed on 7 November 2016]
Mike Flacy, 11 Feburary 2015, Teen gets fired on Twitter after cursing about her new job,
http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/teen-gets-fired-twitter-cursing-new-job/#ixzz4PKe40OK9 , [Accessed on 7 November 2016]
Nicole Lee, 3 April 2016, Having multiple online identities is more normal then you think, https://www.engadget.com/2016/03/04/multiple-online-identities/, [Accessed on 7 November 2016]