This past week we discussed identity in terms of the Internet. We started off the week by answering in a private reflection questions about who we thought we were. I remember finding it very difficult for me to come up with answers to all these questions because I don’t know who I am and I think its okay for me not to know. Later on we established identity to be who we are, but it changes on our context. By this we meant that depending on the circumstances we can be slightly different. For example I act differently when I am around my grandparents compared to the way I act around my closest friends. This example is tied into another point we made about identity. It is that identity is tied with our relationship with others. Everyone in our life influences us and everyone is different, so it is normal for you to act differently depending on who is surrounding you at that moment. This allows identity to be characterized as mutable, because our identity is constantly changing within our lives with regards to the Internet and relationships.
The Internet has made identity even more mutable because it allows individuals to have more credibility, but as permitted them the freedom of anonymity. It has also impacted the levels of privacy by creating binary levels. Gilmor discusses in his article how credibility is difficult to determine on the internet because the capabilities of people are infinite. For example, an individual’s statements can be misconstructed damaging their credibility or an individual can refuse to give up their identity, therefore lowering their credibility. Another point he discusses is the fact that “anonymity is enshrined in our culture”. He acknowledges that it can be bad at times, but it is a freedom that the people cannot be denied. Gilmor states that it provides protections to individuals who can be harmed if their identity were to be revealed. Not only does anonymity protect people, but allows people the comfort to come forward in difficult situations without fear of retaliation. But as it is known people use anonymity the majority of the time in selfish ways, especially in ways that cause harm to others. Therefore, anonymity allows identity to be more mutable on the internet because it allows individuals to be multi-dimensional, while under a cloak of anonymity.
Chamorro-Premzic wrote an article for the Guardian titled, How different are your online and offline personalities? Within this article he discusses how we have partially given up our anonymity because”the internet gained prominence in our lives”. He also discusses how “our web searches and web page visits, emails and social network activity contain traces of our personality”. Therefore, even though our identity has shifted from a material to a digital identity they still hold the same values at the core. So in response to Gilmor’s piece it can be argued that anonymity can provide individuals with a more mutli-dimensional identity, but since social media has become so prominent in our lives it is slightly more difficult because there is no need to establish different identities if you already have a common online presence. That is not to say that individuals dont have multiple online identities, and Chamorro would argue that those online identities are a reflection of their personality. So in the end the cloak of anonymity is still present, and provides protections to individuals with multiple online identities, while still reflecting their personality.