Visual Essay

This is my visual essay for the module ‘Living, Learning and Working in the Context of Digital Economy’. Below is a short video outlining the main points of my topic, accompanied by this blogpost. The references for the information images and music presented in both the video and this blogpost can be found at the bottom of the page.

Digital Identities

Having an online identity is something that has become second nature to most people across the world. Each day thousands of people are joining digital communities, making social media one of most prominent features in today’s modern society. Even looking at my own social interactions online I can see this: I have around 8 different social networking sites that I use, emphasising to me just how much social media is a part of our lives.

‘Digital identity’ is the term used to described ‘the persona a person projects’ across these communities (Williams, 2010). People’s identities are shown through the expression of their interests and opinions; as well as their interactions with friends via social networking. Sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, provide a platform for people to showcase themselves in whichever way they want. This visual essay will look at how we create multiple identities online and how it can affect us on the outside the virtual world.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Social media has not only changed the way that we interact with people around the world but it has helped to shape the way we present ourselves to the world as well. Now-a-days it is very easy to give away personal information about ourselves online and unintentionally create a negative persona and reputation. People don’t realise that the things they do online can manipulate how another person will perceive them, judging by your online activity. From being ‘tagged’ in a Facebook picture at a party, to having a disagreement with someone online; these types of events create a picture of what you are like as a person and ultimately form your online identity.

I believe that there are 2 forms of identity that people use when active online. These are the professional persona and the personal persona. Depending on which audience we are targeting when using social networking sites, depicts what form of identity we have. For example, when we use Facebook, we would showcase ourselves in a way that is socially acceptable for our peers. Whereas, if we are using social networking as a way of connecting with potential employers, we would show the more professional side of us. We create multiple identities for ourselves to appeal to the masses.

As our information is readily available online for anyone to see, many people don’t know how to separate the personal from the professional and therefore this can have an effect on our lives outside the virtual world. Employers, for example, won’t hesitate to check up on employees through their online profiles, to get an idea of the type of person they are employing. A survey by Career Builder (The Telegraph, 2010), found that 4 in 10 employers will discard a job seekers application after checking their Facebook page and are now using social networking sites to highlight any “digital dirt”. This can be one of the disadvantages of having an online identity, as this can affect what an employer thinks about you as a person. I have seen first-hand how one Facebook post can result in job loss or a negative persona, created by online activity, can affect you actually getting a job.

However, having an online identity can have its advantages. Today’s social networking sites have made it very easy to pick and choose what information you want displayed on your online profile and who you want to see it. In order to do this however, you need to know how. Madden and Smith (2010) stated that it is the young adults in today’s society that are more wary of what is posted about them online; with 71% of them customising their privacy settings, compared to the 33% of users aged 30-49 and the 25% of 50-64 year olds. This could be down to the fact that older generations don’t know how to do it or don’t see the importance of it. To me, privacy is one of the most important aspects to social networking and taking the necessary precautions to create a positive identity can have a profound effect, especially when seeking work. One social networking site called ‘LinkedIn’ allows you to create a professional profile and a ‘brand’ for potential employers. You can promote yourself in the most appealing way for your desired audience and keep your personal life separate (and private!) from your professional one.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Online identities can be great things for showcasing who we are as people in different ways. But without the ability to monitor what we post and show to others on social networking sites, having multiple digital identities can quickly have a negative influence on our lives.


The Telegraph. (January 2010). Half of employers ‘reject potential worker after look at Facebook page’. Retrieved from:

Madden, M. & Smith, A. (2010, May 26). Reputation Management and Social Media. Retrieved from

Williams, S. A., Fleming, S. C., Lundqvist, K. O., & Parslow, P. N. (2010). Understanding your digital identity. Learning Exchange, 1(1). Retrieved from


Figure 1: Gideon Burton. (January 2009). Online ID dogtag. Online Image. Flickr. Retrieved from:

Figure 2: Sean MacEntee. (November 2010). Social Media. Online Image. Flickr. Retrieved from:

Video images

– Figure 1: Sean MacEntee. (November 2010). Social Media. Online Image. Flickr. Retrieved from:

– Figure 2: Geralt. (February 2014). Online Image. Pixabay. Retrieved from:

Video Music

“Powerful Presentation” by Sophonic