Who are you? How are you presenting yourself?
Key questions where people consciously or unconsciously deal with every day. However in the current society can the ‘real identity’ be a lot different from the way you might profile yourself online. Due to the anonymity and the disembodied online environment the internet has become a place where people can shape and reinvent new identities. No matter how you profile yourself, this will be a continuous process influenced by the interactions with the online social environment.
Some say that this environment provides the opportunity for people to express one’s hidden true selves, others state that the internet is a place where people can pretend. I can personally agree with both statements to some extend. In my opinion it might depend on the level of anonymity in a social network to what extent people can reshape their identity. However the most important reason is probably the way you want or don’t want to profile yourself in a public environment.
Take Facebook for example, users provide a lot of personal information on this medium and try to present the real self. However, is this really the real self? Can we say that we are not influenced by the way society thinks we are? What about sense of belonging? And more importantly, aren’t we influenced by the fact that Facebook is a public environment? I think that I can speak for all of us that we try to filter the personal information available online and therefore indirectly influence our online identity.
This seems to be different in blogging. The perceived anonymity of the online world might be the reason for this. Bloggers can hide their identity and write at a distance from their readers. I used perceived anonymity, because a lot of bloggers do (un)consciously reveal personal information. They use blogs as a way of self-expression in a form of personal entries which are an extension of the real world. Why would authors choose to share their personal information in such an environment? I would think that anonymity would make bloggers feel more comfortable while revealing this type of personal or intimate information. Do they actually believe they can be private online?
This is even more the case for blogs written by females. Their blogs tend to contain more personal experiences, whereas men more often write about facts. Their blogs about sports, careers, politics or games are usually less intimate. However, this is not necessarily because they want to hide their identity but mostly because of interest.
No matter what gender we are of what kind of social media we use.. aren’t we all just seeking for representations of who we are, as well as a confirmation of those representations by our “friends”?