Before Facebook and Google became the megaliths of the internet, the famous online adage was, “on the internet, no one knows you’re a dog” by Peter Steiner in 1993. The cartoon hit home with the wariness about the facile facade that could be thrown up by anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of html. However, the concept of personal and professional presence on the internet has been clearer – A Facebook account where transparency is high compared to a LinkedIn account where authenticity and presentation as a multi-faceted human with strengths and weaknesses is key. But ultimately, is having more than one online identity beneficial?
“Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”
Above is a quote by Mark Zuckerberg abstracted from David Kirkpatrick’s book, The Facebook Effect, on having different online identities. As the pursuit of authenticity is creeping into the heart of most social media platforms, the way we portray ourselves online would greatly affect our reputation. This is largely related to employment opportunities where employers would “check out” their prospect employees on their social media platforms to verify their true identity. An article by Steph Palmer and a Youtube video by Michael Fertik would best explain how our digital identity affects our professional future. As it states in a New York Times Magazine piece, “the internet records everything and forgets nothing.”
On the contrary, having more than one online identity might have its perks as well. Andrew Lewman of the Tor Project argues that anonymity allows people to be in control, be creative, explore what they want to do and who they want to be. Through numerous online identities, it allows people to navigate the multiple and increasingly complex spheres of our lives in the online community. The focus is not about pretending to be someone that you are not; rather, you turn the volume up on some aspects of your identity, and tone down others, all based on the particular online context. An example would be a famous Korean celebrity, G-Dragon, where he maintains an open Instagram account and a private account where it shields him from unnecessary public and media attention due to his international fame.
To wrap it up, in my personal opinion, it is definitely acceptable to have more than one online identity as long as it does not cause any negative impacts on people like cyber-bullying.
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‘NOBODY KNOWS YOU’RE A DOG’: As iconic Internet cartoon turns 20, creator Peter Steiner knows the idea is as relevant as ever (n.d.). Retrieved November 07, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/comic-riffs/post/nobody-knows-youre-a-dog-as-iconic-internet-cartoon-turns-20-creator-peter-steiner-knows-the-joke-rings-as-relevant-as-ever/2013/07/31/73372600-f98d-11e2-8e84-c56731a202fb_blog.html