Online Identities: Who Are We?

This is an academic research paper I wrote in conjunction with Erin Walsh, a fellow computational media major at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The world as we know it today has been shaped by its newly ubiquitous communicative capacity. Social network sites have allowed their users an unprecedented level of interactivity between each other. However, all of this communication stems from each user as an individual. The first stage of communication on these sites is for the user to determine what s/he wants to say on them. This can be as basic as what information a user puts on his/her profile to as complicated as his/her online speech patterns; however, for the purposes of this project, we will focus on what kind of status updates, pictures, shares, “likes”, etc. users feel comfortable posting on one SNS over another. Do the associated perceptions of online communities such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr influence the user in their choice to use them and how to use them? Are there things that social networkers would post on one site but not the other(s)? Why do people use multiple SNSs? By conducting a survey, examining research articles/publications, and considering our own anecdotal evidence, this paper will explore what kinds of identities people create and express for themselves on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, as well as what influence these sites may have on the actual (i.e. offline) identities of their users.