In my lifetime I have been a bandicoot, an italian man, a rich older version of myself, a purple dragon, a young African American man, a wrestler, a Japanese fighter… and the list continues.
These are some of the avatars that I have ‘played as’ over the years. Maybe one day the online world will morph offline and like the dolphin in Johnny Mnemonic, we can do something similar and turn into a purple dragon? But I will save that discussion for another post, because I think that the most important persona that we navigate with in the online world, is the one we create to represent ourselves on social networking sites.
I’m not saying that everyone creates an image of themselves online. Because not everyone has a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account. But for those of us who do, in one way or another, we are representing a version of our selves which may or may not be a true depiction. The pictures we upload, the statuses we write, even those hashtags. Admit it, you’re doing it for a reason.
In Larsen’s article about the social networking site Arto, the users mainly constructed their identity through positive affirmations from their friends. We can see this being done now on Facebook, with (normal quite young) users posting “like for like” statuses, where if somebody likes the status, the person will post on their wall what they like best about them.
Larsen showed that the Arto user community was a kind of ‘caring community’ looking out for each other. I can only relate this to what is constantly appearing on the Facebook news feed. “1 like = 1 prayer” or “like this to show your support”. Who doesn’t hate cancer or animal abuse? Are people really liking the photos because they think it will stop a disease, or is it to portray themselves as a caring person?
If it is being done purpose or not, online behaviour really does portray an image of someone which may or may not be factual compared to their ‘offline self’. But because so many people around the world are always conncected to their digital devices, does it even matter if we come across as two different personas? That topic is another blog post in itself.