How the online communications change our identities?

How the online communications change our identities?

Many people say that because of the emergence of online communication tools, our identities have become more complicated and it has become difficult to manage them.

I read this paper in the class of my university “Internet Cultures” and want to consider what has changed in our identities due to online communication.

Marchant, G. (2006), Identity, Social Networks and Online Communication
E-learning 3(2), 235-244

In this paper, the author argues that online communication has changed our identity. The author attributes the new feature of online communication to “high absence of physical co-presence” and notes the importance of showing ourselves due to the absence of co-presence.
The author also says we have various identities in the respective communities in the cyberspace, but in the deeper level, our conventional identities, like gender, social class, age and some other traits based in real-world exists.

However, it seems to be true that the online communication makes a difference in our identities, and it is not sure what will happen to our identities in the future.
The author raises the question posed by Wellman (2002, p.16)
Will networked individualism deconstruct holistic individual identities?

I admit that online communication and networked individualism have changed our identities, but I’m really skeptical about whether we have “holistic identities” at first place.

We have belonged to many different communities from the past, and the author also notes that the multiple real-world identities casts doubt on the existence of the holistic individual identities.
However, it is deniable that online communication has changed our identities. The author attributes it to the absence of physical co-presence and our sense of audience, but I think it could be analyzed in more detail. So, what differences online communication brings to our identities?

Number of identities

Although we have had many different identities before we acquire online communication ways, after the emergence of the online communication, tool the number of identities to manage have been increased. Due to online communication tools, our world has broadened, and we can communicate with the people we cannot talk to without online communication tools. That change in number and diverse characteristics of the community results in more complexity of management of identities.


While we have owned plural identities before the era of online communication, each identity has been shared only within each community and it is not usually happened the people in a particular community see your different identity for the other community. It has been easier to manage different identities for different communities.
However, because of the openness of the online communication tool (e.g., social networking sites, uploaded photos and videos), now people in your particular community can easily see you in another community. This complexity makes management of identities difficult one.

Durability of communication

Before online communication, almost of all our communication did not last. Except for writing a letter, we did not have to care about what should we say so much, as it was not last so long. However, our remarks in cyberspace remain and easy to be seen by any people. Even though we delete our images or texts, someone might have captured. So now we have to care more about what we are going to say and how to show ourselves and it makes us tired.

The technologies are rapidly developing and communication devices are also changing. Although we have some different identities from the past, the number and complexity have risen and it has become more difficult to manage all of our different identities. So it is also needed to know how to manage our online and offline identities.


Marchant, G. (2006), Identity, Social Networks and Online Communication
E-learning 3(2), 235-244

Wellman,B.(2002), Little Boxes, Glocalization, and Networked Individualism, in M. Tanabe, P. Besselaar & T. Ishida(Eds) Digital CitiesⅡ: computationa; and sociological approaches, pp.10-25. Berlin: Springer.