NASPA Tech sounded awesome. I wasn’t able to go but I followed the back channel whenever I could. One recurring theme was digital identity development (which truly needs expanded conversation). I firmly believe we are in an age where our future Presidents will have at least one or two massively embarrassing things located on the Internet.
Oddly enough I actually drafted up something similar to Digital Identity Development with a focus on Social Media a few months back. I had every intention of doing some literature review and seeing if the theory held up but then life happened. Instead I will submit it here for public scrutiny and see what happens. I present to you the incredibly creatively titled: “Social Media Identity Theory”
Warning: This is only from observation, no actual scientific or research oriented information lead to the creation of any particular content within the theory.
Vector 1: Experimentation
Most people treat social media like a cold pool; dip your toe in first before going full force. It’s a time where new users ask themselves questions about what pictures to share, what to write in statuses, and what information to put in their biography. People tend to be moderately rigid and fake at first, as if they are making a new friend and are a little timid before completely trusting them. You have to shake the dust off a little. You begin tinkering with profile pictures for Facebook and Twitter, finding the right mixture of looking good and not too goofy. You write multiple biographies for yourself, rewriting it and trying to get it just right.
Vector 2: Mirroring
Similar to a developing child, if you don’t know how to walk, watch someone else and do what she or he does. Sooner or later you will make connections online and be able to see others activity. Instead of creating your own identity you assume the tactics of others and let your peers set the precedent. You are able to see what your friends and colleagues follow and subscribe to, and you begin doing the same. Even though you may not be a huge fan you are willing to give it a trial period to feel in “the loop.”
Vector 3: Normalization
Slowly but surely you find ways to differentiate yourself from the same people you mimicked. Finding your own voice and what boundaries you feel comfortable with takes precedent. You begin to take into account the balance between personal and professional voices and when to use each.
Vector 4: Growth
You’re starting to find flow, and your level of comfort. You have reached a point where you can start expanding. You begin sharing content: videos that make you laugh or quotes that you connect with. You have created your social media identity and as time goes on you are able to share more of your personality to your network. Your network also has developed to a point where you frequently find the majority of the information you use through your network. You have found informational twitters (news, sports, weather, etc…) that provide you knowledge the way you like to receive it and you subscribe to the companies you like on Facebook.
A few Things to Consider
- Creating multiple “identities” online such as a personal and professional profile
- Narcissism and over selling yourself, altering yourself so you are represented better online. Fake personas or identity
Does this resonate with you? Would you add or subtract any information?