Online persona

Photo credit: “Online ID
dogtag by Gideon Burton on flickr
CC BY-SA 2.0 

This week’s topic on “Online participation and digital literacies” focused on getting us to think about our own identity in the online space. In our own PBL group, someone asked, how did you start moving into the digital space, and how did your identity evolve over the years. That set me thinking! What is my own digital identity? How do I present myself in the online space? How much personal information do I share online? Do I have concerns about how my personal information is used?

The internet society (ISOC, 2011) illustrates the various different identities called partial identities, based on how  we present ourselves online (illustration below).


Image credit:

My own online identity and interactions differ on different social network platforms. I present myself differently on Facebook compared to what I would on the LinkedIn space; and similarly have different online persona on the Google+ community, the Academia community, the ScoopIt community.  And so, the Visitor-Resident metaphor (White & Cornu, 2011) resonates well with me (though I am a digital immigrant). Clearly, I am a visitor on some spaces using it as a tool for a specific purpose, while at other times I become a resident spending time online interacting and socialising.

However, even though we intend to keep our professional and personal identities apart, it is common to see these boundaries getting blurred as you give out bits and pieces of your personal life in the professional spaces, and vice-versa. Search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) also create a persona for you based on your own actions and interactions within that space. We are often presented with information that is suits us based on the tracking and monitoring that happens.

Thus, our own partial identities are the outcome of a self-created filter bubble through our own filtering and personalisation. Pariser (2011) claims that these filter bubbles create a world that rarely challenges your own ideas and views and that “there’s nothing to learn!” I am not convinced by his claims though. There’s always an opportunity for new learning, to discover more. Yes, many of us might have concerns about sharing of personal information in the online space, particularly when personal information shared intentionally in one platform gets used in ways you didn’t intend in other spaces. But that does not stop us from protecting our privacy, learning how to preserve it, and be aware of it.

We are not in an age and time, where no one knew if we were a dog or a real person! Let’s be aware, and enjoy our online learning journey with passion.

Photo credit: “On the internet nobody knows you’re a dog” by Anat Reisner via Zvi Kons on flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 

Internet Society (2011). Understanding your Online Identity: An Overview of Identity. your Online Identity An Overview of Identity.pdf .
Parsier, E. The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You. Penguin Press. (New York, May 2011).
White, D. & Le Cornu, A. (2011) Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9).


6 thoughts on “Online persona

  1. Your last sentence sums it up. There are boundless opportunities to reach out to others, exchange ideas and learn but we need to be aware of the dangers and act wisely. I wonder if we exaggerate the idea of different identities. I am me everywhere, but in some networks I present a more restricted profile of myself than others. It’s the same offline – if I go to a party I won’t talk about my work all the time and at a conference I won’t say so much about my hobbies and family life.


  2. I particularly liked your observation regarding filter bubbles, and the fact that you believe that there is always something new to learn. I think that this comment demonstrates your growth mindset. For those with a fixed mindset, the temptation to believe that there is nothing new to learn and discover might be strengthened by the filter bubble, but you are not allowing this perceived boundary (whether it exists or not) to limit your learning. An awesome post that has gotten me thinking about this new connection between the learner’s mindset and the ‘thickness’ of the filter bubble’s skin!


  3. Tank You Kiruthika. It’s interesting to take part of another persons reflections about their digital persona. You gave me the thought, that the more we get digitally literate, the more we know how to form our own digital persona at the Net. It’s connected.


  4. Thank you Kiru. This was very insightful. I especially agree with you that the boundaries between our personal and professional online interactions sometimes gets blurred. I have also experienced that. But in all fairness we are ultimately one physical person with a personality that just uses the different platforms. Who we are will be reflected in one way or another in our communications, in our reasoning and in our approaches to different situations whether we like it or not. I believe it is just natural for this to happen.


  5. Thank you for at thoughtful post Kiruthika. I also liked your comparison to the filter bubble and agree with the comment made by Alistair. You are always you, however your appearance might change dependent on the environment regardless if it is digital or not. For me it is more about the control of information and what and to whom I want to share things with. It is important to be reminded of the filter bubble from time to time.


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