DIGITAL AMERICA

Online Identities

// Posted by on 03/03/2012 (10:30 PM)

I came across a very interesting article and video featuring 4chan’s creator Chris Poole discussing his take on online identities, and in specific how Facebook and Google portrays both. He claims Facebook is a space where your online identity is also your online identity, while the other online identity is based on anonymity, which often frightens people, thus influencing social media sites to base themselves on the “Facebook-ensue” identity. However, Poole makes the very good point that Google + “circles” and Facebook “smart lists” failed majorly in focusing on the importance of audience, and that social media should really focus on the user and who “they share as.” This is because Poole reinforces the fact that we are very multi-faceted people with multiple identities, and sites like Facebook limit a user’s idea of that by providing a “one-size-fits-all” method to expressing identity. However, he praises Twitter for their portrayal of identity by applauding the use of “handles” rather than full names (as Facebook does) and how a user’s Twitter page is interest-based, representing one facet of a user’s identity. Ultimately, Poole suggests the complexity of our identities is what characterizes our humanity, and as the line between online and offline is becoming increasingly blurred, us humans face a rather trying dilemma. He calls to not only producers, but users of the web, to utilize and seek social media platforms that focus less on a mirror-image, single lens identity, and a “right” one.

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Comments:


Allison said...

I think there are benefits to both 4chan’s anonymity and facebooks commitment to attaching an identity to the user. Although I am not an active viewer of 4chan I imagine that genuine feelings, ideas and concerns are expressed without the fear of being ostracised for their opinions. However, it is possible that what is being expressed could be hurtful or cross boundaries. Facebook holds people accountable to what they say by attaching a name to the user. Ultimately I think that having your name attached to your facebook account leads to facebook being an extension of who you are, while an anonymous site could result in someone living a “real” life and an online life. I imagine it would be emotionally damaging to maintain these two lives.

// 03/13/2012 at 8:13 pm

Kelsey said...

Allison’s suggestion that being anonymous allows a person to express their “genuine feelings, ideas and concerns…without the fear of being ostracised for their opinions” makes sense until another anonymous commenter insults you for what you think. In this case having two identities would be useful because neither party really knows who the other is so it is very easy to delete an account when someone becomes hostile and just be done with the situation. But, also as Allison said, when a name is attached to it people have to stand behind their words and suffer the consequences. I’m of the mindset that if you have an opinion about something then you should stand by it, if you don’t want people to know what you think and believe then don’t say it.

// 03/13/2012 at 11:55 pm

Phylicia said...

Like Kelsey, I agree that if you would not attach your name to a comment or post, you probably shouldn’t be posting. However, when thinking about 4chan, I wonder how many of the site’s users would be willing to attach their “real” identity to their posts. Perhaps users of 4chan are not unwilling to attach their name or “real” identity to a post or comment, but the nature of 4chan is one of anonymity. There is a real possibility that the users of 4chan are using the site because they enjoy the content and anonymity is just part of the site that was decided by the creators of 4chan. After all, the users did not create 4chan, so who really knows if they’d be willing to attach a “real” name and identity if the content of the site is contributed anonymously.

// 03/14/2012 at 6:58 pm

Cameron said...

Bridget, I think you bring up a really interesting point about Facebook using people’s names rather than the handles that Twitter and other social media use. With Facebook using people’s names, it blurs the lines of online identity and actual identity. It has become a common practice for companies to look at Facebook profiles in determining who to hire. Companies do not differentiate between people’s actual and online personalities, which is interesting that there is an accepted blurring of these two personalities. Personally, I do not even think about online identities anymore, but just think of Facebook as an extension of a person’s identity. I am having a difficult time trying to decide if this is a good thing or could become problematic for society.

// 03/14/2012 at 8:53 pm