Why do people use technology to build multiple identities and mask their true ones?
There is always a constant reminder of how technology is not always transparent and that with the growing improvement of technology, it is becoming easier to “edit” your online persona, creating a wall between the viewer and the user.
According to this photo, the screen or technology serves as a veil. The way the user is using the technology, the cell phone device, to cover his or her entire face, signifies how people use social media to hide their true identities. The Internet can serve as a powerful source for people to create a new look for them without anyone’s knowledge but their own. Also, it looks as if the user’s head is faced down behind the screen, which could signify that he or she is ashamed of her real identity and lets technology create this separate personality for the user to showcase for everyone else. The popular TV show, “Catfish,” shown on MTV shows people’s online relationships and with the help of the TV host’s Nev Schulman, the two meet. In almost every episode, the lover behind the screen is revealed to be a “catfish,” someone who has used the power of social media profiles to present a fake identity to their lover. Most of the so-called catfishes explain a lot of the time that, “Pretty much all of it was me, but not me. Everything, all the emotions, just a different face” (Seidman). “Every morning Mae put on a necklace, much like Stewart’s, but lighter, smaller, and with the lens worn over her heart” (Eggers, 309). The necklace that Mae describes here is similar to a user hiding behind technology or social media platforms to disguise themselves everyday from who they truly are.
In this photo, the subject’s identity is tied to their laptop screen. The laptop is covering almost all of the user’s face, revealing only half of the user’s true physical appearance, symbolizing that technology has the ability to hide people’s identity but the user still has the choice to show whatever they want. “Some people openly admit that they feel more able to express their real selves online than through more conventional communication channels” (Seidman). This quote describes how technology gives people a sense of comfort in expressing themselves in a true fashion on social media rather than traditionally such as dating. “How did she not know Kalden’s last name? She did a preliminary search in the company directory, and found no Kalden’s” (Eggers, 170). This routine that the Circle utilizes shows that technology has become such a vital part of people’s lives that it has become the only way people find information about one another.
The subject in this photo, is promoting two different ‘selves’ on two different screens. In one hand, she appears to be talking on the phone in which she could be presenting herself as one person. In her right hand is a tablet, where she could be presenting another identity of herself. Users tend to create many different personalities on screen in order to hide their true self from the world. “We know how people respond to an image influences self perception. Today, the chance of being scrutinized is greater because more people interact through a protected, anonymous filter, potentially making any self-esteem issues more sensitive” (Erikson). This idea reflects that people are motivated by their low self-esteem to mask their identity with technology. “With a bracelet on each wrist, each snug and with a brushed-metal finish, she felt like Wonder Woman and knew something of her power — though the idea was too ridiculous to tell anyone about” (Eggers, 314). The reaction to the bracelet that Mae in “The Circle,” is comparing to a superhero power shows how people today feel about technology and social media. People often feel empowered when they have the power of technology with them.
In this photo of myself, the screen is distorting the entire picture, creating this blurred illusion. The hair in the photo appears to be captured in the middle of the subject flipping her hair which signifies a confident sort of action that someone does. The subject in the photo could be distorting the happy and free version of the self by the screen. “One of the differences between our self-image in real life and online is more ability to change our look, and also mask our identity. Even when a person posts a photo of you on social media, you can untag, delete or modify the photo to keep social presence more consistent with the self-image you want others to see” (Erikson). This process is just what building or hiding people’s identities is driven by because of the ability of editing. “Just beyond her, Mae saw Alistair, who waved to her, and began texting” (Eggers, 165). This interaction between Mae and Alistair is a common interaction that happens in present day very often. People become so attached to communication through technology that they lack physical interaction. This type of behavior could be what drives people to create multiple identities. Most of the people who do this are either socially awkward or with low self-esteem, therefore they resort to technology to express themselves with others.
Eggers, Dave. The Circle: A Novel. New York: Vintage, 2013. Print.
On the MTV reality show, "Catfish," the show's hosts help a viewer track down an elusive online love. Almost inevitably…www.psychologytoday.com