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On Identity

Identity is a something that people grapple with all the time but don't really get. Consider for a second  looking out of a car with the windows rolled up. When you do this you sometimes see your reflection along with the outside world at the same time. Identity is a bit like that. Who you share as is just as important as who you share with.
This is something that both facebook and google plus get wrong. Have a look at how Sacha Baron Cohen has various personas. What he can do as very different from what he does as AliG even though in many cases the audience is the same. Twitter gets it right because they are the only service that allows multiple handles, monikers and they are essentially the only ones right now who allow(or even encourage) you  to have a online presence that is completely divorced from real life.
This is important because people have stereotypes in their head and if your name or picture reinforces those, you are already in a box, out of which it is very difficult to get out of. The message is affected by the messenger which in an ideal world should not happen. This is why authors have different monikers under which they write. Several female authors wrote under male names to gain readership and not put of readers right at the outset in the late 18th century (George Elliot comes to mind immediately, this was a period when women didn't have voting rights and it was perceived that they couldn't write to save their lives. How the naysayers have been proven wrong). Stephen King wrote under the name of Richard Bachman simply to test whether readers were judging his work fairly and not buying them simply because a book was written by him. I sometimes wonder that if I would get more replies if people thought I had an anglo saxon handle on twitter.(Should make for an interesting experiment. Ought to try it out sometimes).
The book blink by Malcolm Gladwell talks of this when he points out that your perception of music changes when you can see who is playing. This happens even to trained conductors who need to choose musicians for their Orchestras. A snap judgement is made simply based on gender. (As you can imagine this tends to favor male musicians especially when picking the cellists).
Identity is simply far more nuanced than the real name policies that is becoming the norm these days. You are more than a photograph and a name.

Comments

Ary√§ said…
Interesting that you are reading up on identity :)
I've been doing that from a purely psychological standpoint, not from a social media perspective. Of course there is a significant overlap. Do look up cognitive biases on wiki. Pretty long list, interesting read overall.
Kartik Kaipa said…
Oh, I have read a lot on psychology. Of course all of this is linked to perception and our tendency to take mental shortcuts.
Take a look at this
http://youarenotsosmart.com/ and also I found thinking fast and slow to be one the best books that I ever read.
Richa said…
Others are thinking the same thoughts too...
http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/10/you-are-not-your-name-and-photo-a-call-to-re-imagine-identity

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