Topic 2: Digital Identity


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Digital identity derives from the practices individuals have been developing online and it centres around two areas: presentation of the persona assumed and reputation. (Costa & Torres 2011:49) There is an idea that, among other dichotomies, users can assume multiple online identities; not just one.

Based on the notion that initiation of any online activity initiates a digital identity, it is plausible in that sense to believe that we can occupy many online personas dictated by the nature of the activity in which we are involved and the purpose of the medium in question. For example, LinkedIn’s purpose is for professional use, so my display picture reflects that, the tone of my profile is appropriate as is the content – it is a digital reflection of exactly how I would present myself in the work place; smart attire, polite mannerisms and work-related discourse. Whereas on Facebook, whose nature is much more relaxed, my pictures are comedic and my language is  colloquial, just like my personality around friends in everyday life.

Costa & Torres however, imply that perhaps it is better to maintain one online identity, as they argue that multiple online identities interfere with the credibility of our identity, causing a suspicion among users. From my experience, I disagree – I don’t think it inspires scepticism because different services have distinct purposes and people act accordingly just as they do offline as I illustrated in my examples above. However I do understand the concern that it is difficult to decipher who the ‘real’ person behind the profile is, but I think that comes down to mismanagement of online privacy. Using my own profiles as an example, I think they are consistent with each other even though my personas vary; my social media are of similar tones with each other as they are with my LinkedIn because I am conscious of the digital identity I leave behind in my digital footprint regardless of the online activity in question. My online identity is open, but it isn’t completely open because I am aware of the negative repercussions of over-sharing.

It is debated that a single online identity is impossible to attain, whereas Mark Zuckerberg suggests that it is in fact the exact direction of where the internet is headed towards in the future. “Zuckerberg believes we have one authentic identity and says it is becoming less and less true that people will maintain separate identities.” (Jarvis 2011) So perhaps the fear of reputational damage at the work-place for that photo tagged of you from last weekend will disappear as “we will soon operate under the doctrine of mutually assured humiliation” (Jarvis 2011) and our reputation offline will not be affected by our identity online because our various online personas will all eventually merge into one.

Micheal Zimmer opposes this notion as he explains that we present ourselves differently offline depending on the situation we are in, and that online it is no different, and I for one agree. I adjust my behaviour accordingly depending on the environment; I do not act 100% the same with my parents as I do with my friends nor in a meeting with my academic advisor, but that is not to say that I am not being myself or not being genuine  – I’m conducting myself appropriately given the setting. Zimmer concludes, “This is how we navigate the multiple and increasingly complex spheres of our lives. It is not that you pretend to be someone that you are not; rather, you turn the volume up on some aspects of your identity, and tone down others, all based on the particular context you find yourself.” (Zimmer 2010)

So if we have multiple personas offline, surely by presenting one, single persona online, that would be inauthentic, not the other way around.



Costa, C. & Torres, R. (2011) ‘To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society.’ Revista Educação, Formação & Tecnologias, n.o extra (Abril, 2011): (47-53).

Jarvis, J. (2011) ‘One identity or more?’, online, Available:  [Accessed 28.02.2016].

Zimmer, M. (2010) ‘Facebook’s Zuckerberg: “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity”.’, online, Available: [Accessed 28.02.2016].




Topic 1: Reflective Summary

At the end of my initial research and consequent blog post, I firmly decided that I fell more into the terms of Digital Natives and Immigrants due to the flawed point I noted in Cornu and White’s discussion.

However upon reading and commenting on other blog posts, I softened my approach and am now more lenient towards the Visitor/Resident notions, but from my reflection I have come to the conclusion that just because there are two distinct theories, this does not mean one has to choose one and reject the other. Can we not be both a Native and a Resident? Or contrastingly, a Native and a Visitor? Or an Immigrant and a Resident?

Perhaps I feel this way because the emergence of the Visitor/Resident theory was built upon that of the Native/Immigrant idea, and therefore it fills in certain gaps of Prensky’s original works, however the thematic underpinnings remain of a similar tone.

From reading Online with Hayley‘s post, I gained a better understanding of Prensky’s limitations that previously I had overlooked, so that in itself also helped guide me to a more accepting response towards Cornu and White’s analysis.

Judging by other’s posts, it is apparent that we, as a collective of ‘Natives’ and millennials, feel that when applying the Visitor/Resident spectrum to ourselves, we adhere to the notion that it is indeed a spectrum as we could not identify as solely one or the other because the labels we identified with varied depending on the site in question, its role and our intended use from it. For example, I am very much a Resident on Facebook and Twitter, using them daily as a primary source of information and socialising, whereas I am a Visitor to food blogs, using them only when I need to find a recipe, to only never return to the website again once I have got what I came for. Similarly on Melina Linden‘s blog, we agreed that it is very difficult to position ourselves as one or the other.

For me personally, although I feel that I do fall onto the Visitor/Residence spectrum, I feel like I am a Digital Native too because I cannot help but identify with and understand fully the reasoning behind Prensky’s work.

Does it have to be one or the other?

Topic 1: Visitors and Residents or Natives and Immigrants?

According to Prensky, Digital Natives have been born into a world where technology is an integral part of everyday life, whereas those who transitioned from analogue to digital and had to learn tech speak, are a Digital Immigrant.


There are many facets of technology that I do not understand and just because I’m a millennial does not mean I am automatically computer literate. I, admittedly, don’t know how to use Excel, nor do I understand the majority of video games, instead I have had to learn these skills just like an Immigrant, and yet still I am not a master of them despite my date of birth. The language of technology is not innate like a mother tongue, in the sense that although we live in a digital world, we are not 100% living digitally all the time, so how can we be expected to be ‘fluent’?

However, I do understand the notion of the ‘Digital Immigrant Accent’, which will always be the giveaway of someone’s background and origins, given that I can tell the tone that my parents use on Facebook differs to that of my peers to the point that it feels as if they are using it ‘wrong’. For Natives, to post a Facebook status is to post something meaningful where it is expected to receive ‘likes’ and ‘comments’; a Facebook status is not for a passing thought – that’s Twitter . The Immigrants that I know do not have this understanding, and post statuses as if they are Tweets, hence when I read them, I can’t help but feel a certain pity, because although they are trying to adapt to social media, they just don’t really get it. Kudos for effort though.

An alternative to these definitions is the idea that there are not Natives and Immigrants, but Visitors and Residents, a spectrum whereby the Visitor does not want a digital identity but is not averse to using technology and the Resident sees the Internet as essential to maintaining social interactions and expressing themselves.

I have developed  and maintained friendships online, so I do adhere to the notion of Visitor/Resident and I do know millennials that do not have a Facebook but appreciate the value of the Internet, however I can see how elements of the Native/Immigrant definitions are not “dead” nor “dying”, such as the accent.

Unfortunately and probably unintentionally, White contradicts himself as he attempts to disprove Prensky’s Immigrant/Native theory by quite literally, accidentally and ironically conforming to this exact idea himself as he declares,

“It is not uncommon to hear people asking each other if they have ‘been’ ‘in’ to Facebook today, for example.”

If we accept the terms Digital Natives and Immigrants, we must accept that an accent exists and that White is an Immigrant and thus I am a Native. Hence I can say there is no set phrase of having “been to” or “in Facebook”; these do not exist and this quote is the clearest example of a Digital Immigrant accent: We say “I was on Facebook”. It would in fact be extremely uncommon to “hear people asking each other if they have ‘been’ ‘in’ to Facebook today” so uncommon even that reading this article was the first time that I, as a digital language expert, had ever heard it. Because White has suggested this a set phrase, for me his argument of offering an alternative to Natives and Immigrants collapses on itself, hence I can’t help but identify more with those labels.



Post Número Uno

Hello and welcome! 

My name is Anna, I’m 22 and a 4th and final year BSc Management Sciences and Spanish student at the University of Southampton and I’m originally from Bath. (I can’t help but think that introduction sounds like I’m on Take Me Out… Paddy McGuiness where you at?)

This blog is part of the ongoing assessment of the UOSM2008 module, ‘Living and Working on the Web’ which I chose because I decided that I would like to start and maintain a blog not only as a form of self-expression but also to learn how to gain, maintain and market my online presence in this digital age that we live in. And the fact that it’s 100% marked by coursework and has minimal contact hours doesn’t hurt either.

I’m not entirely sure what I want to go into after I graduate, although I probably should have some sort of idea by now, but I do know that whatever I end up doing, it will inevitably involve the Internet, so why not start learning more about it now? I have done a self-test which evaluates where you’re at with regards to social media/online skills prior to beginning the module which will be completed at the end to see how far we’ve come.

That’s it for my first official post, until next time.