Meet Steve, on the left. He’s a 43-year-old chain smoker with a passion for collecting vintage car parts. Rhys, in the middle, is an 18-year-old high school DJ who hopes to record his own music someday. Renee, on the right, is an entry-level public relations worker who hopes that her long hours of work will pay off with a promotion.
I’d like to raise several points from this (fake) case study. I grabbed these images off the internet myself and typed some random, stereotypical crap about them. If you saw these images or their subsequent accounts alone on a social media site, you’d never guess that;
(a) they’re the same person (on the other side of the screen)
(b) that person is a 19-year-old female communications student who created fake profiles to demonstrate the ease of faking internet personas.
An online persona is a user-created identity which one performs on social media. This is something we (in particular, gen x and y) do intentionally. We effectively put on a performance to those who follow our social media constructs. When you add a pinch of personae with half a cup of the digital revolution, you end up with a magnitude of instagram models and micro famous vloggers earning six-figure salaries.
There’s all sorts of criticisms of people talking themselves up via their online personas and painting themselves as different to how they really are. This can be a problem when it comes to cat-fishing, stalking and online predators, however it happens on a large scale without criminal intent (think photo-shopped profile pictures, teens making themselves older etc.). Although the internet is thus seen as a tool for fake facets, it isn’t actually the fuel which started the fire. Do any of you act the same around your colleagues and your family? Your friends and your grandparents? Do you act the same in a night club as you would in church? No (I sincerely hope). Personas have existed for yonks, waaaay before the internet started.
Despite that, I do wish to pose the question of the impact of personas on the internet. I believe they have set the digital revolution alight and will continue to play a massive role in the prominence of the internet in our lives. Do you agree?