With the human obsession for social networks to be included in all facets of life, are we losing touch with who we really are? There are so many different social networks that we belong to; each requiring a different persona to represent who you are on their platform. Using social media is like opening up yourself to consensual schizophrenia in a vast public space. Now this does sound very negative and the truth is it can be and that's just being realistic. One of the most common anxiety disorders in people is social anxiety and the hope that this wouldn't be added to by duplicating little sub-identities of yourself all over the net is redundant.
Understand the psyche behind social media identity
Ask yourself, why do you create your online profile for Facebook or Friendfeed or any other social network you belong to? Is it to act as a basic representation of who you are in real life so those you know can identify you on a basic name and image basis? Is it so you can actually extend all the dynamics of your real life onto the internet so you interact with those you know on a more 'real' level and hope that they will not be misled by all the other social media stigma? Or, do you accept the truth behind your use of your social profile and understand that everything you add to your profile and what you share is a reflection of the person you want to represent and not what is actually there in flesh and blood.
Depending on where your many profiles are depends on how you want that social society to perceive you. Each one gets a different and diluted reflection of who you are along with all the embellishments you've fabricated and emphasized, minus all the less desirable traits to your characters. It is in cases, absolutely necessary to provide the relevant information depending on the social network. LinkedIn for example should have up to date, honest information of your professional role. However there are many niche networks that you could be a part of that are divisions of your personality and veer ever further away from reality the more and more you split yourself a part. The chances of you being the same identity as you are on Vampirefreaks.com as when you are working at the reception of the maternity ward isn't a major possibility is it? You create a perception for almost everyone who sees your profile, your boss gets one side of you, your friends see the side you most likely want them to react to and strangers see the most attractive and intriguing creation while your strange niche networks can see sometimes a whole new alter ego.
So the social division happens within each individual and trying to define who you are becomes a very complicated task. When social media is such a huge part of your life it is naive to think that all that effort you put into building these personas and obsessing about everyone else's, will not affect you as a real person. Having knowledge of somebody you have never met down to what they did last night, who they are seeing and where they like to go are all things that should happen with a natural interaction but do not. Your consent and privacy over your real identity filters away when you are profiled onto a social network. This is where the problem lies. You lose that day to day understanding of how you are relative to which person and how they are to you. It's an unnatural dynamic and in a world that is so consumed by globalisation and trying to remain an individual with routes in ethnicity, culture and heritage, the splattering of your personality over social networks makes one's self almost unrecognisable in reality.
The advantages of being on a social network are very much recognised for you as an individual and also as a brand looking to market itself. However, there are precautionary measures you should take to keep your privacy, your content consistent and your overall reality in check. Click here for 'Identity crisis in you and your brand: Social Media: Part 2'.