“Another me” in cyberspace

“Another me” in cyberspace

This week I read about “public space” and “identity” in both online and offline world.

Public space in online and offline world

In the paper, Boyd(2008) argues there is a difference between offline public (unmediated environments) and online public (one form of mediated environments).
In unmediated environments, our public range has physical boundaries, the possibility people recognize us is limited to the extent they can see or hear me. And the occasion generally not last as a record.

However, online public space is totally different from offline one. Our activities are recorded in the form of texts, photos and videos and anyone can see or watch them at any time. Once the record is created, it is quite difficult to wipe out them completely, as it has persistence and searchability(Boyd,2008).

The online space is a really difficult space to manage. In addition, as we’re going to manage our different identities(characters), things is going to be more complicated.
We’re going to use mainly two kinds of personality in the online space, a genuine online personality(online personality) and the personality identical to the real world(offline personality).

Online identity and Offline identity

When people have relationships with the people who they have not met in person, the person acquire an online identity and act in order to get along with the people in the same cyberspace.
I think in the first phase of internet communication is based on this relationship. People use their nickname and connect to people who share the same interest.

After that, especially the emergence of Facebook, people required to have the same identity in online and offline space. As I wrote in another entry, there is a difficulty to manage many other personalities in cyberspace. In this time, the reading and I also want to focus on the use of teens.

Basically, teens have their own world and they don’t want to adults to intervene it. Although their parents want to see their children, children don’t want to be seen by them. They make the account on facebook so as to be looked by adults, and communicate with peer friends in the other place. On top of that, they seem to make the other identities in twitter, pixiv and other services that don’t require the same identity in the real world.

Characteristics in the service that assure online-only identity

I think one of the most important feature of the service people uses for their online-only identities is that the service allow to use a nickname. By using a nickname, we can be the person not connected to the real world. People make connections based on their shared interest or hobbies, and they don’t know each other in person. In addition, teens use multiple accounts on the same service and manage different identities in accordance with the each account.

I think the management of the different identities is one of the solutions to manage our different personalities in cyberspace. It is impossible to fix only one personality online as we have various communities in cyberspace. Of course, the management would be complicated, but the structure is not different in the real world.
Moreover, people who have the virtual relationships seem to enjoy “another me” in the space and I think it works well for the people. Especially in hobbies or other things that would be difficult to find the peers in the real world, online space enhances the connection and relationship with people who have the same interest. Holland & Leander(2004) remark it as positioning: formation of senses of self and identity and people do their positionings in several online communities. I want to investigate more the difference between the online self and offline self, the influences of online self on the real world.


Boyd, D. (2008). Why Youth ♡ Social Network Sites. Youth, Identity, and Digital
. Edited by David Buckingham. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 119–142.

Holland, D. and Leander, K. (2004). Ethnographic Studies of Positioning and Subjectivity: An Introduction. Ethos, Vol.32(2)pp. 127-139