The Concept Of Identity Online: Pros And Cons Of Online Identity

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Understanding the concept of identity first of all is important in analysing the pros and cons of exploring identity online as it is often argued that there are differences in the ways in which people present their identity offline verses through computer mediated contexts. Ellison, Heino, & Gibbs (2006) express that one’s identity pertains to their aspects of self. Moreover, there are three aspects of self which are the ‘actual self’ which describes the actual attributes possessed by an individual. The ‘ideal self’ which describes that attributes an individual would ideally possess and lastly the ‘ought self’ which describes the attributes that an individual ought to possess. In their study concerning online dating Ellison, Heino, & Gibbs…show more content…
Walther et al.’s (2001) ‘Hyper personal’ theory for example, explains that the problems associated with an absence of social cues and social presence online can be easily overcome. The Hyperpersonal theory suggests that the message sender has a greater ability to strategically develop and edit self-presentation. The ability for people to present themselves appropriately can thereby lead to more intimate and close relationships. However, in turn, it can also lead to idealisation which is unhealthy because if people stray too far into the fantasy side of the online world then it could lead to relationships that do not live up to expectations in the offline world. Whitty (2003) argues however that online spaces allow people to feel freer than in face to face communication thereafter in relation to forming romantic relationships, people are more willing to flirt, to express themselves and to engage in sexual activities. Thereafter online spaces can feel like a more creative and therapeutic space compared to the offline world. Similarly, Suler (2004) discusses the concept of ‘disinhibition effect’ by which is the nature for people to say and do things in cyberspace that they would otherwise not do in person. This allows people to loosen up, feel less restrained and to express themselves more openly and freely. Suler (2004) notes in addition that the disinhibition effect works in two opposing ways however in that the on the negative side, the anonymity of cyberspace allows people to say rude, harsh, hateful things that they may not say in face to face
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