This saying, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”, was coined by cartoonist Peter Steiner, who didn’t realise the potential the cartoon had at the time (Fleishman, 2000), but what does it mean? – Essentially, the internet gives you the power to choose your identity and present yourself as one, or as many identities.
As 90% of employers now search Google for the name of job candidates (Salpeter, 2011) it’s important to present yourself competitively online, so by having multiple accounts, you could keep one private and one for professional use.
Here’s the differences between having one and multiple accounts:
In the offline world, the same person has different identities and behaviour within different environments (at home or at work for example) (Durante 2011), so why should it be different online? I have only one identity, but I change the privacy settings so different people see different posts, on Facebook for example. I also use LinkedIn for professional use and Twitter for the memes and this is recommended by LifeHacker Alan Henry. However, this technique of post-by-post managing could still go wrong, especially if you get confused like Justine Sacco famously did.
Markgren (2011) explains that it’s impossible to keep your two accounts separate and we should “always maintain a level of professionalism no matter what site you are using”. So then, it’s probably best if we be ourselves and do our best (ie. dogs surfing the waves instead of the web).
So then, it’s probably best if we all keep to what we do best, eg. dogs surfing the waves instead of the web.
To the future…
Some say the Web is becoming too corporate with a few companies effectively owning our online identity (Keys & Singh, 2018). Web 3.0, often called the decentralized Web, will enable people to live anonymously online and it will give back control of your online identity (Lubin, 2016). Already, the Dark Web and platforms such as ‘Ethlance’, enable people to operate anonymously – Ethlance allowing them to do work and be paid in Ethereum.
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- Durante, M. (2011). The Online Construction of Personal Identity Through Trust and Privacy. Information, 2(4), pp.594-620.
- Fleishman, G. (2018). Cartoon Captures Spirit of the Internet. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/14/technology/cartoon-captures-spirit-of-the-internet.html
- Keys & Singh (2018). How Web 3.0 Will Protect Our Online Identity. International Business Times.[online] Available at: http://www.ibtimes.com/how-web-30-will-protect-our-online-identity-2667000
- Lubin (2016). You Can Start Your Own Country, Thanks to Web 3.0. [online] Available at: https://futurism.com/you-can-start-your-own-country-thanks-to-web-3-0/ .
- Markgren, S. (2011). Ten simple steps to create and manage your professional online identity: How to use portfolios and profiles. College & Research Libraries News, 72(1), pp.31-35.
- Ronson, J. (2018). How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html?_r=1 [Accessed 20 Apr. 2018].
- Salpeter, M. (2018). [online] Usnews Money. Available at: https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2011/03/30/how-to-improve-your-online-identity .