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Blogs and Identities
When I think of an individual, I think of one person, and that person has one distinct identity. When I discovered that people whom blog change their identities, I thought it was strange and wondered why they do this. I first noticed this in the “Always and Forever” blog I have been observing. The couple in this blog do not use their real names. I understand that you might have to alter your personality a bit depending on where you are or whom you are with. For example, you would not swear if you were trying to impress your soon to be in-laws. When I talk about changing identity I am talking about using a totally different identity and many times they also change their personality. As Judith S. Donath states,
“Identity plays a key role in virtual communities. In communication, which is the primary activity, knowing the identity of those with whom you communicate is essential for understanding and evaluating an interaction. Yet in the disembodied world of the virtual community, identity is also ambiguous. Many of the basic cues about personality and social role we are accustomed to in the physical world are absent. (“Identity and Deception”)
Blogs and identity from society’s eyes
One of the main reasons that I think people change their identity is because they feel as though they are inadequate in some part of their life. Maybe they do not have their dream job, or maybe they are not married and they think they should be. Anything can make a person feel as though they are not good enough. In today’s society there is the expectation that everyone should live by certain standard, and this could make someone feel very uncomfortable with who they really are. As Mead says,
“This is particularly relevant to an interactionist perspective because the positions into which we fall (and their behavioural expectations, or roles) are reinforced not only by our own conceptions of “who I am,” but also by the perceived conceptions of “who I ought to be” or a reflection upon what social positions others put us into (“taking the role of the other”).” (Parents)
Another thing is that they might be unsure about is their sexuality. They might want to become someone of the opposite sex in their blogs and see how it feels or how people react to them. As Sherry Turkle states, “even a assumed male persona to experience for herself the Net’s gender bending abilities.” ( Brody, 381) Also, they might become a homosexual and see how others respond to them. This can be a “safe” way to find out who they are, because no one will know.
Another reason why people change their identity is to fit into a certain group of people on the Web. A virtual community is just like any other community. There are people who communicate daily and people who communicate daily usually have the same interests and similar viewpoints. Everyone needs to have friends and blogs are a good way to make them.
People can also talk about their real feelings in their blogs and they do not have to hide them in case of akward embarrassment. On the Web one doesn’t have to hold up to societies stereotypes, such as men having to be “sturdy oaks” and never show emotion, and that woman are very emotional and always cry. When using a different identity in a blog if someone says something negative to you or if they dislike you they do not actually dislike you but they dislike the fake identity and personality that you are using. So it might be a front so you will not be hurt directly.
For many people they do not like to meet people in everyday life because people are judged by their looks first before anything. When one is on the web someone can be whoever he or she wants to be, because no one can see him or her. And than sometimes because of what they look like they do not get the chance to get to know someone at all because of how materialistic our society is. In blogs you get to know someone for who they really are (if they are using their true identity and personality) instead of what they look like. Also because they are not judged right away on their experience it might raise their confidence in doing other things as well.
Parents and their child’s identity
Parents only want to protect their children and asking them to change their identity is a way to do that. Many parents might tell their children to not use their own name or identity because they do not want anyone to find out that their children are children. I think this is a very good reason to change ones identity because you never know who could respond to your child. If you give someone your name, they can find out a lot about you. If a pedophile finds out that they are looking at a child’s blog they could change their behaviour to keep the interest of the child and make them believe that they are special.
“It really doesn’t take us long to connect with a pedophile, usually only two or three minutes,” said Sgt. Nick Battaglia, who patrols the information superhighway each day for the San Jose Police Dept. “They are out there waiting to prey on these children.”
Many parents do not realize this, and their children fall victim. Because some people change their identity to take advantage of other people, and to benefit one’s self. Many times they will gain the trust of a child and then they will ask to meet them and when they do, they might hurt them. As Howard Rheingold says, “Human behaviour in cyberspace, as we can observe it and participate in it today, is going to be a crucially important factor.” (“A Slice”)
A child’s identity
A child tries to find out who they are and they learn who they want to be from the people around them, the people they see, and the people they hear about. Many young children want to be a doctor like their daddies or a basketball player like Michael Jordan. They may want to just be older or cooler. Children have a very good imagination and they will pretend to be anyone that they want. They might also change their identity to say they have a loving family even if they come from a broken abusive home. For the most part children will sound as though they are happy even if they are not. If the child comes from a “normal” household they might say their parents are famous. Children may use a different identity every day or even every minute, they like to keep things interesting because they hate to be board. A young child probably does not even realize they are changing their identity, it just comes natural to them.
Changing identity to do harm
As Howard Rheingold states, “We reduce and encode our identities as words on a screen, decode and unpack the identities of others. The way we use these words, the stories (true and false) we tell about ourselves (or about the identity we want people to believe us to be) is what determines our identities in cyberspace.”(“A Slice”)
This means you can portray any identity that you want to portray. And for pedophiles they portray a nice person for a very bad reason. If a pedophile wants to gain the trust of a child they cannot tell the child that they are a lot older than them and that they like young children. They have to get into the head of a child and make them trust them; they might tell them they are an eight-year-old boy that likes football. When doing this, one is changing their identity. They must be a different person than they are in everyday life. As Ann Severson found, “You can’t ever really know if they are who they say they are.” (McLaren) The article gives an example of how a girl and a guy met on the Internet and really hit it off. They planned to meet alone and when they did the girl found out that he wasn’t who she thought he was. He ended up being accused of statutory rape.” (1.10)