Mirror designed by Cornelius Danger from The Noun Project

Mirror designed by Cornelius Danger from The Noun Project

Patrick Stokes at Aeon Magazine explores all facets of the offline/online dynamic, but one passage is a prescient reminder of how most of us contort our identities online:

But it would be wrong to say that we’re simply being ourselves online, pure and unfiltered. Most of us aren’t catfishing, or creating fictional characters, but we are probably spinning our lives to some extent. In their study ‘Identity Construction on Facebook’ (2008), published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, Shanyang Zhao and fellow sociologists at Temple University in Philadelphia found that user profiles were not strictly identical with the users’ offline identities, but were rather the identities they would like to establish in the offline world, but have not yet been able to. This illustrates how the online identity that most of us use is, to borrow a phrase from the American philosopher Stanley Cavell, our ‘next self’. Dress your avatar for the life you want, not the life you have.

It’s been said that we see everyone else’s highlight reel while we’re stuck with our own behind the scenes footage. Our colleagues and friends may appear to be living impossibly happy and productive lives at all times when judged by their online personas, but remember that our online selves are aspirational.

Read the rest of the essay here.

  • Janel Torkington

    This is true no matter on or offline – present yourself always as the version of self that you’d like to become, and soon enough you’ll discover that you’re already there. Can seem too simple, but it’s always our words and actions that define who we are, whether in the physical or digital realm.

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