Trapped in a Nutshell: A closer look on virtual identity

Our real selves are just fake masks, empty husks we inhabit lifelessly.

Above is the paradox of double lives for being the real you and the “ideal you”. This is also investigated in the film “The Truman Show”. The hero (Jim Carey) finds out that the world he lives is an enormous television stage set airing 24/7. Everything that happens are just illusions, including the sky and the stars. Every person in his life are just actors, even his girlfriend.

The story is quite similar to people whose done searching for a virtual identity. Sometimes what they have created are just illusions of what they wanted to be.

Clearing the Lines

Sometimes, as people enter the virtual world, they are in search of a virtual identity that would fit the environment they are at. This will cause them to invent things about them. It’s the “who am I on the website? and what should I be on this world?” questions that will come up on a person’s mind.

The “ideal you” is usually formed in online virtual communities such as social networks, chat rooms and online games. A virtual identity is a created or adopted identity that is different from what they have in real life. This cyber self is specific to the Internet. There is a freer self-definition so one can create a character with better looks and enhanced social, family and educational backgrounds. The things that they do and say might be quite different from what they really are.

Real vs. Ideal

Virtual identity offers more flexibility that is why many people are enjoying once they’ve created one. A person can express different sides of him/her and can also exaggerate it. People can also escape the social constraints of life whenever they are in a “screen-bounded” environment.

Take for example the case in the book “Alter Ego: Avatars and their Creators” by Robert Cooper and Tracy Spaight— a professor in his 50’s is teaching public policy and law in real life. However he is an online game fanatic. In search of a virtual identity that he will use, he decided to create an identity of a little girl everytime he is playing. He said, he wanted to maintain the illusion about that girl because females are treated better in games.

Role of Social Networks

Online social networks that are being used now by millions of people can be considered as a part of everyone’s lifestyle. In these online communities, describing yourself and other needed information on the profile part is one of the “wildly” answered by users. Why? Because the freedom there is as I’ve said, a user can reinvent everything about him/her. The things about them can be quite different as they are from what they are used to, their passion, their genre and the like.

Rationale: Why go virtual?

Much for explanations, we have to know why people are engaging into this search-then-create-my-virtual-identity.

No Fear-A common aspect is that people can present themselves without fear of any persecution. The online identity has also given people the opportunity to feel comfortable in wide-ranging roles. Users can also express their own opinions and interests.

Power to Change-Virtual identity can help users to transform and hide the parts of their personality which they feel should not be known by others.

A New Society-Friendships can be developed using these identities. Some people who feel they cannot make face-to-face conversations can now do it by just going online. Furthermore, relationships can also arise for those who seek romantic relations. Those lacking with confidence can have the opportunity using their new identity. It’s a kind of modern version of courtly love, yet some people patronize it.

As per that, virtual identity cannot be considered as a negative response after all.

Going back to the paradox, the truth can be observed. Isn’t the “ideal us” sometimes more real than we are? The evoke part of ourselves that we do not allow to come up in our everyday lives? We might realize that the person we created in the virtual world might be the real us, yet we are afraid to show because we are afraid of discrimination, comments and reactions from others.

By now, I’ll live you all this quote: “Identity is always a moving category, always a shape-shifter. As soon as we think we have it pinned down and classified, it re-emerges as something else.”

*this is an unpublished feature article for my school’s student pub*

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14 thoughts on “Trapped in a Nutshell: A closer look on virtual identity

  1. ROBERT LEE says:

    It’s not only in the virtual world that we project an image of ourselves. We do this too in person. We project an image of who we want others to see us. And just like in virutal world, how we are seen is not necessarily how we want to be seen.


  2. Adel C says:

    I hope there won’t be disparity between one’s digital profile and his/her actual self. It can be done if one takes responsibility of what he/she published online. Message is to be sure if what you post before posting and taking responsibility of your actions. I hope you’ll get your work published. Good luck!


  3. Fred Erick says:

    This is something that was not really clear to me before but I guess in time I have learned about it well. When social media was just starting, during Friendster era, we just post anything about us. But as time goes by, I learned to be more careful on what to share about me and what not to share. People can judge you based on what they see on social media and might treat you differently when they see you in person. Ugh!


  4. Melissa Ungco says:

    Huhu I completely agree with you. People are so much braver online than they are in real life. I feel sad about it though, people think they can just go say things without really thinking of the consequences. Just because it’s written online doesn’t mean it doesn’t weigh as heavy as if you say it in real life. Or does it? All I know heavy social media really has been blurring the boundaries.

    Awesome read! I hope this gets published. You can send it to magazines! 🙂


  5. Kati Balayan says:

    This is a perfect example of ‘too much social media’. Actually living sort of a double life just to keep up with the ideal identity one set up online. Something that most online users are guilty of, I’m afraid.


  6. Yami says:

    You really have a big mind.

    That’s the reality eh,there are people more comfortable hiding their ownself to others maybe because they have fears. They feel more powerful and secured when they are wearing their mask. For me, it’s definitely okey as long as they are not harming their selves and other people as well.


  7. Jean says:

    Great thought! But I think it’s depends to us on how are we going to let the virtual world influence us. It’s important to take and do everything responsibly. 🙂 thanks for sharing!


  8. Me-An says:

    Creating a virtual identity is done by some to protect themselves. However, I miss the good old online days wherein what you see is what reality really is.


  9. Marge Gavan says:

    I think that’s the problem when you are trying to please everyone else or trying to make yourself superior over everyone, you invent a version of you for the social media. In some ways it’s fun to do, sometimes when you keep on doing it, you actually become the person you project yourself to be. For me it is okay if the image that you are trying to build is a better version of yourself. Like what the say, if you don’t know how to do something, just say yes then learn about it later. It will only get bad if you can’t sustain the “image,” that all you say are lies and are unwilling to do the hustle to be this person that you are claiming to be.


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