Where is our Identity heading?
I started using online digital platforms back in the mid-’90s when at high school. It was a great way to talk with complete strangers with similar interests and as someone who was quite shy it was a way to make friends. Back in the day when innocence was bliss. I remember using a chat platform called AOL instant messenger which some DOS computer systems that I use at work today brings back memories of these times. The online identity I used in the mid-90s was a nickname my mother use to call me and as time went on and things became more popular I would find when registering new accounts on these platforms that my nickname was already taken so I had to start putting numbers on the end.
When I finished high school, a new program called myspace was used and not long after that, I used ICQ which was another program for a chat. I look back on these times and think of how careless I was with my identity and how I would sit up for hours talking to people about life, having never met most of them in real life. I did meet a few of them outside, usually quite different from what I expected. So, for the most part, the connection stopped when I turned off the computer. It was part of an identity that in some aspects were never going to be real. I could put myself online as whatever I wanted, publicly available for viewing and judgement. However, as technology has changed for everyone and people do need to be careful about what they put online.
Everyone these days have a mini computer in their hand (Smartphone) and our identity is within reach to those who use it for good and those who use it for bad. Constant notifications presenting themselves and society getting absorbed to the point you are constantly bumped into walking down the street head down in their phone. It is constant and this is something I related to straight away when watching “Black Mirror” Be Right Back — Series 2, Ep 1 of 3. I wonder if one day what we have put publicly online could be used to recreate us long after we are gone. For some that could be a terrible thought, for others might be pleasant.
I believe that my identity had grown and grown as technology had changed but as explained in my previous post about identity theft, lately I have started to pull back and reduce my online identity and focus more on my outside identity with friends and family. Given the type of work I do, I tend to use pseudonyms instead of my real one to protect myself and my family. I’ve seen what can happen when people are so willing to put their life stories onto social media for the world to see and this is where people are becoming cyber attacked.
If I was asked twelve months ago how much control I have over my online identity, I would have said it was ok and I was on top of it. Now I’ve realised how big the online world is, how easily accessible information is about a person and how once it is uploaded it stays online. I’ve become quite concerned as to where our identities are going to end up in the future.