Identity and the internet

Okay so identity and the internet? This week’s topic. Little bit of a difficult discussion, I mean is there any such thing as identity when it comes to the internet, for example the identity that drives us in getting mortgages, or credit checks….credit ratings, our love life….our tax life. The Internet is there for another platform of fantasy, or, at least, it can be. So is that identity or just fantasy in a identity form? Starting up on the reading this week, the example of Sherry Turkles, it was interesting as the introduction falls into the examples of Sherry Turkles

  • Sherry Turkles is French who studied post structuralism in Paris in the 1960s
  • Turkles is a social scientist – trained in anthropology, personality psychology and socialology
  • Dr. Turkle; the clinical psychologist
  • The Writer

Then “there is the cyberspace explorer, the woman who might long on as a man, or as another woman, or as simply ST”.

Through this study and the book ‘Life on the screen: Identity in age of the Internet’, found through the decade of research, the Internet links millions of people, changing the way we talk, act and react to other people “a modernist culture of calculation toward a postmodernist culture of simulation.” With the book going on to suggest that our life on screen allows us to be everything; be that the writer, producer, director and/or star of our own show.  In a sense, what the book suggests is that it gives us control of our own lives, or at least the perception of control.

This observation resonates a lot of explanation behind why certain behavior is deemed appropriate in the viral world and how the escalation of something rapidly evolves from its initial meaning and purpose to something completely different. The Internets version of Chinese whispers, I guess.  But it isn’t just how something can be taken in a different meaning by the receiver, the rapidity of discussion, romance, arguments/debates and ‘deep meaningful conversations’ is so quick it can both help and ruin relationships in the real world. The protection of the computer screen seems to mask its user into a comfort zone that anything is possible because they do not have to face the consequences themselves; only their online self does.

And so this leads me onto, one problem that the theme of identity and the internet has; Catfishing. This is a huge example of how the identity of the user can be made to place someone into a false sense of security.

Although, the dictionary’s version of Wikipedia, Urban dictionary has a good definition of this word (Oxford dictionary has not yet added it in……why? I’ve no idea, they have the word ‘selfie’ in there). So UB definition: A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using facebook or other social forums to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.

This area, sparked up some curiosity from me so I looked into it a bit further and found this

I found myself intrigued in the notion that you could be a completely different person, even gender, once you are on your computer. So, I did some of my own research and tapped into a chatroom and casted myself off as a guy of 22 called Tom.

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The chat room I choose was dating/romance and after watching it for sometime, I felt uncomfortable passing off as a person that wasn’t me…30 seconds into the conversation, the user ‘Seri’ was leading it all. This was one of her responses… I clicked off after this.

This week links quite strongly with the changes we spoke about last week of Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 with regards to interaction, sharing and worldwide communication. In this weeks reading of ‘Along together’, it introduces itself with the statement “technology is seductive when what it offers meets our human vulnerabilities” I for one, couldn’t agree more. It can be both liberating but extremely dangerous and the thought to where it could all lead to is…well, scary.