identity 2.0

One interesting trend that I’ve noticed over the years is the convergence of our offline and online identities.

When did we become comfortable enough to discard our pseudonyms for our real identities? I believe we were directly influenced by the two waves of Internet innovation and that the convergence demonstrates the maturing of the Internet population.

First, there was AIM and MySpace, where we were encouraged to create aliases incorporating our unique attributes and interests a la “nsyncchick” or “sk8er4eva”. They may sound silly now but reflect the creative skills of your typical teenager, arguably the most active Internet population at that time.

Then came Google Chat, Facebook and LinkedIn. All three are successful because of the use of real names.

But I wonder if all this is safe? Wasn’t that the reason for the use of nicknames in the first place? Has the active internet population shifted so much that predators aren’t an issue anymore? Or have we just gotten too comfortable?

And how has this changed the way we communicate and represent ourselves online? We can no longer hide who we are and can very easily be held accountable for what we put onto the Web. I absolutely take into account that my parents, peers, prospective clients and colleagues can view what I’ve included on this page and elsewhere. So are we all self-censoring who we are? Can we be all things to all people?

  • Gaurav Mishra

    @Julie: It is indeed interesting how online and offline lives have merged for some of us, both in personal and professional lives. “Can we be all things to all people?” is a question all of us have asked ourselves at some time or the other and the answer obviously is “no, we can’t”. So, perhaps, the best thing to do is to accept that there are multiple selves within you and proclaim like Walt Whitman in Leaves of Grass —

    “Do I contradict myself?
    Very well, then, I contradict myself;
    (I am large—I contain multitudes.)”