In defense of multiple identities.

On May 14th Danah Boyd blogged about her thoughts concerning the Facebook privacy story, discussing a lack of transparency on Facebook’s behalf. Included in this post was one very thought provoking quote from Facebook’s creator Mark Zuckerberg;

Image courtesy of Facebook.

“You have one identity… The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly… Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”

I was immediately distracted from the privacy topic at hand and began considering the many scenarios in which one should modify their persona in order to be  respectful, professional or successful.

I’m the first to admit that many images, comments, and status updates that represent my identity on Facebook are aspects of my true persona that I would not want potential employers or some family members to see.

By aiming to downplay or withhold certain characteristics from specific audiences, I am essentially creating a second, third, and fourth identity.

I think, and many may disagree, that  my consideration of others’ perceptions is part of having integrity, and does not reflect the absence of it.

This goes far beyond having a “Facebook” persona, which in my case primarily represents my social life. The need to create separate identities is prevalent in many facets of daily interaction.

Sometimes I hold my tongue or mislead another about my true beliefs in order to avoid offending others and disrespecting their beliefs. For example, when I censor my thoughts about, let’s say Catholicism, it’s because I’m considerate of others feelings. Having consideration for others is part of having integrity, even though I may be portraying a second – or false – identity.

I always dress professionally for an interview. I also adjust my slouchy posture, speak more eloquently, suck up to potential employers, brown nose, and act interested in topics that I may actually find uninteresting. I think most people engage in similar behavior as a function of their professional persona, a separate entity from their private one.

The professional persona is not a sign of a lack of integrity, but rather a reflection upon the individual’s ability to respect the rules that govern their futures and their careers.

I intend to hide my Facebook information from future employers and others. If Zuckerberg truly believes that this means I have no integrity, then I’d love the chance to compare his social behavior to his media presence.


One response to “In defense of multiple identities.

  1. Pingback: Celebrating Success: The Best Student Posts This Term | PRos in Training

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