In response to my very helpful commenters, let me first say that I am not ignoring multiple identities on the internet. In the book "Born Digital," the authors state that the digital age allows a teen--and people in general--a greater opportunity for "experimentation and reinvention of identities" (20). However, while a digital native "can create multiple identities online with ease, she is more bound to a single identity than ever before" (34).
Why is that? If we are able to create multiple identities, why is a single identity not only possible, but almost certain? Isn't that impossible?
No, it's not impossible. It's a paradox. People are used to showing themselves in different lights based on different situations, or contexts. But with the internet, these different contexts can be linked together. Today, an onlooker is just able to SEE more of one person's multiple identities, which, in turn, helps them SEE a singular identity that perhaps would not have been possible without the digital age.
In my previous posts, I was fairly sure that this kind of meshing into one identity was desirable, maybe even intentional--maybe not for everyone, but for some. Now, with some of the more in-depth research I've done, the most I can say is this kind of singular identity formation is possible. And here's where the psychology comes in:
Patricia Wallace: She wrote a book called Psychology of the Internet, where she explicates the implications of the "ease with which people can experiment with identity on the net". In other words, yes, multiple identities are formed. BUT, Wallace did seem to think that people do not inherently use multiple identities just for fun--there was an end result of identity exploration. After all,
"MANY of these new identities may simply add a bit of polish or mystery to the self we already know in real life, and these experimental enhancements may lead to very positive consequences. Playing a person who is a little more outgoing and confident on a MUD, for example, could affect the individual's offline behavior, and there is much anecdotal evidence to support this."
To me, this quote does two things: 1) Acknowledges the existence of multiple/different identities, while also positing that most people do not use extremely different identities, and 2) States that in the face of multiple identity, tensions, a singular identity can be reached--one that is very much tied to reality.
Calvert: In a study on gender and identity on the internet, Sandra Calvert, a psychologyist with Georgetown, quoted Grotevant who stated that identity involved a "continuity...of self images." She also quotes Erikson, an American psychologyist, who stated that people tend to find and form a "unitary" sense of identity over time. These psychologist do not ignore the tension that multiple identities on the internet imply. Rather, they simply state that the multiple identity process is a very meaningful one because, over time, the aggregate of identities can be viewed as one singular identity.
Tomorrow, I want to maybe look a little at Freud. I don't know very much about his theories, exact for his famous id/ego/superego posits. But do the aggregate of these entities lead to a singular identity as well?
Now, I here's the last thing I want to say on the matter for today: I'm not sure there is a right or wrong answer. Perhaps the book Born Digital says it best:
"Some sociological theories suggest that young people have multiple selves; others argue that these multiple forms of representation come together into a more or less unitary self-constuct. The common thread among the many competing theories of identity is that people tend to have multiple self-representations...that together FORM A WHOLE."
The "whole" is what I'm interested in. I've learned it is not a "coherent" whole...but maybe it's a whole nonetheless.