Is there a difference between your online and offline self?

In my last blog I talked about how other perceives you, and how you know what people actually think of you. I also talked about the unique self, both in the so-called real world and the digital world. But is there a difference between the two and if there is, what is it? In the article “Personal Identity and the Self in the Online and Offline World” Soraj Hongladarom argues that “both the offline and the online selves are ultimately constructions and do not have any essence of its own” (2011, p. 534). He also says that the so-called online self is no different than the real self that is already there in the offline world, because both are constructed of external factors. I agree with Hongladarom in so far that both the online self and the offline self is constructed by external factors. I think both is a product of the social environment and events that we have been and is a part of. To me however, the big difference is that the online self needs an offline self in order to exits whereas the offline self is perfectly capable of existing on its own. In one of my units, we are doing a project where we are creating “fake” twitter accounts. We have made up some fake personas, which hopefully will be perceived as real personas to the rest of the online world. Hongladarom argues that this phenomenon, creating fake personas, is common in Thailand. Here it is common to create anonymous or alternative profiles on social networking sites, an online persona that does not necessarily connect with the real life person.

Now I have two twitter accounts; one that I would refer to as a real one and one that is fake. However, how can you tell these two apart? Furthermore, what is the difference between the two? If you had asked me this question a month ago, I would argue that one of them is the real me, and the other is one I’m creating. But isn’t both a creation? In both cases, I’m trying to display a person in a certain way. In reference to Goffman and my first blogpost, they are both my front stage, maybe a second front stage but still a front stage. But how many different online front stages can one person have? In Thailand, it is apparently normal to have several. Having two twitter accounts isn’t as weird or hard as I thought it would be. In one way, it is hard to know what to post on the “fake” twitter account, because I’m not sure what this person would post. But at the same time is it easier, because I’m not so worried about what people think of me. In my mind, it isn’t the real me. Nevertheless, it is me, it is still me posting the things. I guess the difference for me is the recipients on the other side of the screen, whether I know the recipients in real life or not.

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