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Social Network ID’s

February 6, 2010

Internet ID’s…that strange new world where we can be whoever we want, changed who we are, hide who we are, even become multiple entities.

I don’t think I ever gave much thought as to how people choose the identities in today’s  social networking sites, but this assignment gave me reason to take a little informal survey of my friends and relatives. In my own very unscientific way, I found that people choose names in 3 different fashions:

1. A name that clearly identifies who they are

I’m Denisev or Denisevig,  dvigliotti, even denisevigliotti.

What does this say about me and anyone else who chooses to identify themselves in this manner? Well, perhaps we have nothing to hide. Perhaps we want to make it as easy as possible for others to find us. Perhaps we want an identity that’s easiest to remember. Perhaps we’re proud of our name and who we are. Identifying myself in this manner has allowed people I haven’t heard from in years to “find” me on the internet. It’s enabled relatives (I think) from Italy to make contact with us and begin some most interesting family tree discussions. It’s open and honest and I really prefer this method over all others.

2. A nickname that highlights the person’s personality, interests or passions: Yankeefan1; gogreen; iluvsnookie; vanhalenrocks or italyorbust to name a few.  I presume these folks choose these identities much the same way that drivers choose their vanity plates…it’s their way letting the world know what turns them on. They’re cute and catchy and often-times a conversation starter. Personally, I think they sometimes are a little vain, a bit pretentious and a whole lotta strange. But hey, it’s a free country.

3. Secret identities

These people choose names that can not in any way be tied to them. They have nothing to do with their names, interests, jobs, hobbies, passions, nationalities, gender, race, creed….nothing. You won’t know if you’re communicating with a female, Italian weight lifter or a male, Venezuelan runway model. And that’s the way they want it. For whatever reason, these people do not want to be identified by their social network ID. Perhaps they have something to hide. Perhaps they believe that Big Brother’s watching and doesn’t trust him. Perhaps they simply don’t have any creativity when it comes to creating an ID. Whatever the reason, these people have non-descript ID’s and they like it that way.

Secret ID’s…HHMMM. That makes me think of a sub-category. How many people out there choose an ID that’s intentionally misleading? I imagine there’s many who do this although they didn’t turn up in my informal survey. I can think of 2 reasons to do this, 1 innocent…1 not so innocent:

I imagine there are people who intentionally choose misleading ID’s as a joke or a goof. Just like nicknames, where “Tiny” really means “Huge”. Or perhaps this pertains to people who advertise themselves on dating websites where they use terms such as voluptuous, sexy, rock and stud (but are anything but).

But I also can imagine that this methodology is used by those who want to do harm. A sexual predator will certainly use such a strategy when entering a chatroom where he doesn’t belong. Heck, I even hear that the police use this strategy to catch such criminals.

And what about multiple identities? Most of us reading and posting blogs probably have many, many ID’s for the many, many social networking sites and technologies we use. More often that not, however, this is not by choice, it’s dictated by the technology which all have their own specific instructions/guidelines regarding the creation of a user account. In affect, we’re “stuck” with multiple account names and ID’s by decree, not by choice.

But then there are those who intentionally choose multiple ID’s and I can imagine, again, innocent and not so innocent reasons for doing so.

Use the dating site as an example again. Bustyinboston might also be sexytexan and readyinredding. And why not? These folks are selling a product (themselves) after all and every marketer exagerates a little bit, don’t they? It’s innocent, it might stir up a bit more interest in your “product”, and it really doesn’t harm anyone.

But I’m sure there are also those who choose multiple identities for more nefarious reasons. The online predator comes to mind again. I use Ebay quite a bit and I notice that many people change their ID’s quite often and I can only imagine it’s because of bad reviews.  Perhaps people setup secret identities to be shared with only one other person…perhaps the “other woman”. Oh, if we put our minds to it, Imagine a person who would literally like to change their identitiy and think of how difficult that would really be. But not in today’s world of social networks…where living multiple “lives” is  very, very simple.

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