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The New Online Identity

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Illustration by John Holcroft

We are all probably familiar with Facebook, Twitter, and all the other amazing social networks. And we are probably all used to updating our statuses, uploading photos, liking and sharing. Social networks have become such an integral part of our lives, that we should stop and think about how much our ways of communicating with others have changed. And what implications social networks have on the way we see and project ourselves in the public space.

Since the rise of social networks, we have become more and more concerned with the way we are perceived by our “friends”. We need to pose the right way for our selfies, we need to constantly showcase our adventures so that we do not seem boring and we are constantly hunting for new followers. In this sense, Facebook has unintentionally provoked the emergence of a whole new psychology of reinventing our identities, not in order to improve but rather to promote ourselves in the digital world. The result from our obsession with social networks is the creation of a whole new online identity . And that, in my opinion, is the greatest threat that social networks pose.

Don’t get me wrong – I love social media and I use them all the time. I think they are a great way to keep in touch with the people you care about, a wonderful tool to share information and to promote all kinds of causes. So here is when things start to get unhealthy: when you befriend people you don’t know and you don’t care about just so that you could increase the number of “friends” you have; when you use your profile as a safe way to leave hurtful comments and to argue fiercely just because you’re not arguing face-to-face with your opponents ; when you start feeling bad about yourself just because somebody else seems to enjoy greater popularity on Facebook.

So I am asking myself – does this really matter? What happens to your popularity if your profile is hacked? Will you seize to have a social life just because you don’t have your profile anymore? Of course not! But however fun it is to spend your time on social networks, please don’t forget that there is life outside of Facebook. Keep in touch with the people that actually care about you and show them your genuine interest in what is going on in their lives instead of just hitting the like button. Be yourself and be proud of who you are instead of trying to be somebody else just so that others will like and accept you.

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