What is online identity? It is the presence of one’s self in an online setting. It is the projection of one’s thoughts and ideas over the Internet, to be read and understood by many people at once. It is this existence that we have – if we choose to have it – in the virtual world, which is our online identity.
Communication-wise, the way we communicate has changed over the past few years. There has been a technological shift and society is relying more and more on the Internet for everything; especially the youth of the society. In that case, it can be said that yes, youth having an online identity in contemporary society is important. Especially the youth that shy away from online communication and presence, it is becoming more important for them to utilise the Internet and all that it offers, in a positive way.
The youth, especially the youth that study in the universities and colleges, are in that stage of their life where they ‘need’ to communicate with people. They do that, by using the Internet. Simply put, the Internet has allowed for us to communicate very easily now. Before, telecommunication services were used to communicate between people, now it is the Internet more which is used.
Not to say people still don’t use telecommunication services, but many people – especially in the developed and developing countries – are relying on the Internet for everything; even the youth. Social networking has helped immensely, when it comes to the youth creating an ‘online identity’ and using it to promote themselves to other people. Today’s youth are an ‘Internet generation’. We are way more technologically advanced than the generation before us. We are a generation of Blackberries, iPhones, iPods, social networking, Google, and Youtube etc.
The youth in university might think, why is it that having an online identity important for them? Well, it all depends on perspective. It is usually always the case, something that might not be beneficial to you now, might be beneficial to you later on. Usually this is heard from a lot of youth, “Facebook or Twitter is boring and that’s why I don’t go on it”. People have a narrow perspective about the Internet and social networking. This is why they don’t understand why having an online identity is important. Well, this might not concern them at the moment, because they are still in university, but pay attention to creating and maintaining an online identity and reap the benefits later on.
Employers these days, look at not only your CV – a piece of paper – but also your online CV on places like LinkedIn for example. They want to know whether you are Internet literate. When you go to an interview, employers in most cases ask one or two questions that are related to the Internet. It isn’t limited to one or two fields, people from each and every kind of field are required to use the Internet now. There is no abstaining from it. How you get a job in today’s society depends not only on your grades and extra-curricular activities, but also how well connected you are, and in some cases, how strong your online identity is. On Facebook and along with Twitter, youth have found it easier to connect to different people, especially prospective employers. This is not limited to just full time jobs, but internships as well and many students know that internships while studying helps vastly after you graduate.
If the youth in Universities start looking at Facebook and Twitter in a new light, then it will be really constructive to them. Internet plus social networking has many different facets to its usage. It is not only restricted to conversing with our friends and making new friends – although that is also one part of why an online identity is crucial. Consider Facebook, a social networking platform which has evolved a lot since its inception. Its purpose has changed from the intended – to connect to already present friends in the real world, in the virtual world too – to promoting businesses and self-identity; connecting to strangers and more.
Twitter, a site that started off as a rival social networking platform aimed at micro-blogging our thoughts, has changed from just being a communication platform, to being a news platform where users are gaining their information from now. Not saying that it is such a good thing in some cases – the incidences of fake news being spread on Twitter and rumours etc. – but Twitter has grown so powerful and brought all the mainstream media to shift in an attempt to give out credible information to the masses.
All in all, online identity is pretty necessary. It helps us to connect and communicate with different people. It helps us to be more participatory and form a collaborative effort, without even leaving the place where we are. Advantage of having an online identity doesn’t only remain confined to the bounds of basic communication, but many other things can be achieved by having one too. We can project our thoughts to different people, we can do e-commerce on Facebook, promote ourselves online amongst other things. It is high time the youth realise that, online identity and the Internet is the future and to progress, they have to go with the wave of the time. For society to progress as a whole too, online identity concept should be adopted.