Your Changing Online Identity (BCM112 Weekly Digest)

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Whether it’s the animated series, the live action movie, or the one about blue people, someone on the internet will hate you for the things you love. This is one thing that can make a person consider intentionally building an online persona – you want to disassociate your image from things that would cause you to be rejected from certain groups of people.

But developing your online persona begins far, far sooner than that. From the moment you choose your first internet handle, your persona has begun to grow. And when you realize three years later, after you’ve drifted away from the sites and communities you used to frequent, that “xoxok1ttensm1les1234” isn’t that great a username and you don’t want people to know you used to write fanfiction… you can change it. Fluid online identities allow a person to isolate and discard a whole section of their life – a record of their interests, beliefs, acquaintances – and start anew.

This is, of course, relevant only to the sites that allow you to construct your identity from scratch. Online personas like Facebook that hold your real information can be much more complex – for both good and bad.

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3 thoughts on “Your Changing Online Identity (BCM112 Weekly Digest)

  1. Love your post; I was originally thinking of writing about how important your online username is, because it’s the first impression for post people we interact with on the net (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8voDuXiHA9s).
    It’s interesting that you note that name changes can be such a great way to erase the past, but what if you wanted to change your username, without losing that connection and personal brand you have already built up? My go to username is orangesarepink (some variation at times because apparently I’m not the only colour blind person on the internet?) – to the point where if people want to find me on a channel, they can often google that and the platform they are looking for to see if I’m on there.
    I have an internet friend (https://twitter.com/amberdiscko) who is very much into cultivating her personal brand (she’s a community manager, it’s in her blood); but at the start of March, she decided to change her name, and along with it all her handles (as they depicted her name), which was a HUGE decision for someone who already has such an influence on the internet. Despite her name change, her online persona hasn’t changed at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a really interesting question! Changing your identity without losing the people who *only know you through that identity* is a tough decision to make, and it involves, in a sense, changing your whole history. The bigger you are, the more there is to change. I think transparency is a huge asset in this situation – taking your audience through each step of the change could do wonders. I know people who have accidentally accidentally due to some handle-changing rules that require you to keep the new handle for six months or more, and while that was confusing for some people, it ended up as a positive boost to their popularity in the end as it became a community in-joke.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post! I wish you’d done more with the idea of being accepted or rejected from online communities based on the stuff you like, though, because in my experience, that’s the majority of what makes or breaks a good online persona. Disassociate your image? The things you like basically ARE your image! The internet is so big and expansive that I can’t imagine anyone hiding the fact that they like James Cameron’s Avatar because a group of internet commenters laughed at you for it— you’d just go find a group that agreed with you. Just saying, you’re talking about the same internet that allowed bronies to flourish against all odds.

    Liked by 1 person

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