Online Identities…just some thoughts

I just read an atricle from Time magazine posted by Tiffany O’Callagahn. It is titled “The psychology of Facebook profiles.” I found it interesting because it touches on some ideas I used in a paper I wrote earlier this year. Basically, it talked about how digital natives use technology so much, and with so little thought. I contemplate the effect of such use
What I find interesting is that people nowdays are forming identities online (just as I am doing now, and just did on Twitter, and on facebook). Not only does a person have an identity in real life, they have one virtually as well. With technology today, people can create a virtual identity through any mode available to them- through text, video, pictures, audio, and music. Perhaps social networking has opened new modes to users as well. Looking at someone’s groups, friends, and interests lists can tell a lot about a person. Can lists be a new mode?  They are text, but they are used differently, usually as a serious of various links. These links are like windows opening up to various information blips about the people who post them.
The Time article explains that research shows that identities on facebook are consistent with non-virtual identities. The article is interesting, and I will be sure to pay attention to how accurately my aquaintances’ online identies line up with the identites I know off of the computer or cell phone. However, can the 236 college students researched prove that Facebook identities are consistent with identities offline? I don’t think their results are conclusive or their study sound, but their hypothesis is intriguing.
It reminds me of another project, a video that I created to report on the social networking tool Second Life. After researching about, and venturing into second life via avatar, I concluded that users must take precausions while on the program, and while on any social networking tool, because they are forming an identity. who are we when our identities splits over what we can see as real and what is real, but…unfeeling.
The web is an amazing tool. In the end though, we are not facing flesh and blood in a screen, but only representations of people or their ideas. I hope for our sake that the research is correct, that we are not creating separate identities. A separate web identity seems cold and lonely to me.We should be careful about what we put online, not only because of safety issues, but because it is so easy to over expose or miscompose identity online…and you can’t erase what you put up (someone can always uncover it)…it’s stuck in time unlike “real life” actions which have consequences, but fade in remembrance and time.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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