Defining Yourself Through Your Online Persona

This week’s readings took us on a journey into Cyberspace. The works of Sherry Turkle discussed a growing dependence on social networking as a form of communication, as well as the online identities of users in the online community.  Personally, I have a number of “online identities”, dependent on the form of social networking I am using.  I use LinkedIn for establishing and maintaining professional contacts, Sports forums for discussing whichever Toronto-based sports team is disappointing me at that present moment and I use Facebook for creeping my grade 9 science lab partner’s sister’s boyfriend’s uncle’s co-worker’s daughter’s BFF’s roommate’s cousin’s pictures of a 2006 family vacation to Machu Picchu.

The choice of social networking site that people choose to express themselves on can indicate a great deal about their personality and interests.  Most people have Facebook, and for the most part they use it to keep in contact with friends and family in different cities around the world.  However, a site like LinkedIn usually caters to a person that is either involved in the business world, or hopes to enter into it.  Therefore, their interactions on this site will be reflected through professionalism.  Other sites like Tumblr and Pinterest often attract a creative person and are forums for the exchange of creative ideas and thoughts.  In this way, you’ve made a decision about how you want to be perceived on the Internet before you ever even compose a post, just by registering to use that particular social networking site.

In addition, not only do different people use different social networks, but in fact the same person may express themselves differently on each site. For example, someone might present a professional persona on LinkedIn, they might share their family photos on Facebook and they might post their inside jokes with friends on Tumblr. None of these personas is their “one true” personality; rather, each site presents an opportunity for a user to express a different part of their personality to a particular audience. This act of consciously self-curating one’s online persona is a uniquely modern activity.  While it is something that people my age have only gradually grown accustomed to, I suspect it will become second nature to future generations that have been raised in an environment of pervasive digital media.


Cyberspace and Identity Sherry Turkle Contemporary Sociology Vol. 28, No. 6 (Nov., 1999), pp. 643-648

Sherry Turkle. The Flight From Conversation. New York Times Sunday Review. April 21, 2012

Places we don’t want to go: Sherry Turkle at TED2012




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