Jargon Busting No. 20 – Online Identity

Publish identity sign

To discover your own identity you should do an internet search of your name. Simply put your online identity is what information is out on the internet about you.

Your online identity is the identity that you establish for yourself through your online accounts and activities. Some people work to establish their online identities by creating accounts on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, posts on forums, videos or photos they have uploaded to the internet.  The information, videos and photos others post of you also form part of your online identity, particularly if you are identified.

There are some people that work very hard at crafting their online identity making sure that there is interesting and positive information online about them. For example I have an established online identity with this blog along with my Twitter, my Facebook, my LinkedIn and my Google+ accounts.

All of these accounts combine to show the online world part of me, the part of me that I put online. I am careful about the information I post online about myself. I don’t identify where I live, I don’t always identify where I am and who I am with, I rarely post very personal comments about my life.  I do try to be ‘real’ online and not pretend to be something or someone I am not. For one thing that does sound like a lot of hard work but most importantly I don’t think the internet is always the best place to share deep personal thoughts and experiences.  This especially true when they are new and raw, it can be better to let your emotions and thoughts settle before getting online. Sometimes it is just best to keep somethings to yourself and keep them off line.

I do have friends and colleagues who live virtually every moment of their lives online, posting updates, blogging and uploading photos of every aspect of their lives. All of this information forms their online identity, which is likely to be very like their ‘real’ identity. But it is not for me and it may not be for you.

One thing to consider is that the more identify information you post about yourself online the easier it can be for someone to piece that information together and use or ‘steal’ your identity.

A friend recently told me about a rite of passage for her almost teenage aged son, they set up an email account for him. It is his first email account. Whilst he doesn’t actually want to send any emails he does need it to set up an iTunes account so he can buy music for his iPod.  My friend and I reflected how without an email address you don’t exist online and it is the gateway to so many things. iTunes, Facebook, Twitter and many more all need an email address to set up an account. So with his new email account the almost teenager can over the coming years begin to build his own online identity. Ideally he will keep his personal information to a minimum and consider his use and posting carefully so that as he grows up, his past use of the internet doesn’t come back to haunt or embarrass him.

(image credit: flickr.com – ‘Publish Identity’ by Gideon Burton)

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