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Suler, J.R. (2002). Identity Management in Cyberspace. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 4(4):455-459.

(2002). Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 4(4):455-459

OriginalPaper: Contemporary Media Forum

Identity Management in Cyberspace

John R. Suler, Ph.D.

Who are you in cyberspace? Am I the same John Suler I am in person or someone a bit different? One of the interesting things about the Internet is the opportunity if offers people to present themselves in a variety of different ways. You can alter your style of being just slightly or indulge in wild experiments with your identity by changing your age, history, personality, and physical appearance, even your gender. The username you choose, the details you do or don't indicate about yourself, the information presented on your personal web page, the persona or avatar you assume in an online community—all are important aspects of how people manage their identity in cyberspace. Identity is a very complex aspect of human nature. Here I will briefly explore five interlocking factors that are useful in navigating that maze of how people manage who they are in cyberspace:

1. Level of Dissociation and Integration

A single person's identity embodies multiplicity. You possess many sectors within your personality and play numerous roles in your life—such as child, parent, student, employee, neighbor, and friend. Cyberspace offers a niche for each of these specific facets of selfhood. Some people even talk about how we can “deconstruct” ourselves online. We don't have to present ourselves in toto—how we look, talk, move, our history, thoughts, feelings, and personality, all in one big package. In different environments we can divvy up and present our self-representations into packets of various sizes and content.

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