Identity crisis.

“You have one identity. The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly. Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”

-Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, quoted in an interview in David Kirkpatrick’s The Facebook Effect.

It’s an interesting thing to see Zuckerberg’s thoughts on this issue laid out so clearly, but in such a cardboard way. I get the feeling that he feels this is right and ethical and moral and is willing to stand by it and I wonder how much of an effect this will have on people’s already natural inclination to slide away from certain models of social networking for a certain period of time. Plus, it kind of ignores the point, I think, that “secret identities” is natural for people (not just super heroes) in a lot of cases. The person you are with your family at Thanksgiving dinner isn’t the same person you are with your boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other, and neither of those is necessarily the same person you are with your friends or within different groups of friends.

It’s natural for you to be different in different situations and amongst different groups. And not just natural, it’s nice. “Always be yourself” is perhaps not the greatest advice to give to someone who sucks, or who hates who they are. There’s times where, either out of stress or just because you can, it’s nice to say, “I’m going to be somebody else right now.”

I mean, in this day and age, who wouldn’t want to be their own evil twin if they could?

And, of course, nothing in our life is as private as we think it is or would like to think it is. That’s something you just have to accept. Though it’s not something you have to be happy with. But you still have to live your own life, and hopefully one you’re happy with.

Plus, it seems like move in certain patterns… At times, we strive towards authenticity, and then conversely, we seem to be running away from it.

Then again, I’ll admit a certain bias towards Facebook: I’ve never been all that impressed with it.

As something that seemed primarily started originally as a way to alert your buddies at college when the next party was going to be, I never quite understood the mass migration of people into it’s borders and I’ve never understood the way it’s continued to grow, or why features like Farmville have caught on. I guessed they’ve just never SuperPoked me in the right way. Also, I won’t lie, I originally joined to get “closer” to a girl I liked way back when, which is… stupid, but stupid in that way that you can really only appreciate in hindsight, sadly. I don’t know which was briefer and more fleeting, my interest in the girl or my “excitement” about using Facebook.

…which, that kind of thing, the article I linked to above goes into a little bit, that people love invading the privacy of others but hate it when their own is invaded, of course. So whenever Facebook reorganizes and becomes more open and transparent, then the complaints and protests grow, but so does the usage…

I get that when someone has an “online persona,” then those who try to get to know that person in some kind of “real way,” something at least seeming to appear authentic, can feel hurt or cheated in a way. That makes sense. Most of your magnetic, fascinating online people are probably quite boring in real life. That’s two different versions of them, and honestly, it has to do with which one is their medium, which arena they can thrive in. But the same thing can happen in life: You think you know something, then you learn new aspects about who they are, and you feel betrayed in a way. But really, that has more to do with you in some cases than them.

Mostly I’m just talking here, all of this fast and loose. It all has to do with the wildly contradictory aspects of human nature. Knowing everything there is about a person’s one true identity isn’t in the actualization of that notion, but in the approach, much like happiness is in the doing.

Just remember this: Everything is connected, and so is everyone, even if you don’t see all the links and the fibers and the knots. If you don’t, that’s okay. Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t either (nor his wacky sister, I’m guessing). You don’t need to see them all. After I finish typing this, I’m going to hit the “publish” button and go be somebody else for a while. I’ll go for a jog, then maybe read a book, watch a movie (today’s is Michael Clayton), and probably watch Doctor Who later. After you finish reading this, you’ll close your internet browser and you’ll go be somebody else for a while too.

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9 responses to “Identity crisis.

  1. wow, i have so much to say on this. all i can say for right now without sending off this rambly-ramblefest2k10 is give you a link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dramaturgy_(sociology)
    you will enjoy especially if you geek out on sociology stuff like i do. i feel a nerd-heavy post coming on here! given my major, i way identified with this concept, but anyone can appreciate as **we all do it,** we really do. i’m glad you posted this! ok, more later if the angry mob stays put with their torches lit!

  2. multitudes you say?? ok, well i didn’t actually read the link, so i may repeat some of the things they talk about. basically, life is like a play. shakespeare said all the world is a stage, and he’s not far off. we don’t all realize that the everyday banter we do with people is like reading off a script. whatever your “role” in life is: student/wife/brother/pedobear/etc. your role in regard to whoever you’re talking to will dictate the way you talk to other people as well as how you treat them.
    one of the key elements of this concept of Dramaturgy is that anyone can see us performing on this “front stage.” you deal with law enforcement, teachers, bosses, so on in this realm of front stage. when you deal with your boss for example, you will typically not swear and speak properly. you would not if dealing with a boss or law enforcement, tell them about you bought your underage brother a handle of vodka. for two reasons, it’s illegal and it is not something that this person on a front stage level needs to know about you. it is not important to the role that each of you is playing to the other person at that particular time.
    as there is a front stage, there is also a backstage persona as well. backstage is reserved for close friends, significant others, and depending on the situation some family members also get access to this. you could tell your boyfriend or wife that you bought the underage brother vodka, because the boyfriend or wife is likely not concerned with the legality of it and this is an element of being open and forthcoming about informational stuffs. yes, stuffs.
    so while zuckerberg is saying you lack integrity if you try to hide certain parts of your personality and don’t want your boss to see your profile or to have your grandmother look at photos of you making out drunkenly last saturday night, is that really being dishonest?? a rule of thumb i picked up on is that at work and in certain social settings, you keep your private life private. you don’t brag that you bagged the hottest guy at the bar over the weekend (unless he was REALLY hot and you have photos to probe it) and there is a reason for this. you are hired or viewed a certain way by people because in that situation, that is what’s necessary. you fill a role for that given time.

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