Real vs. fake: Identity creation in cyberspace
Smith, Aaron P.
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As the reach of cyberspace expands, the digital identities that are created within it are being classified as "real" or "fake." This distinction pertains to how these digital identities correlate to the real-world lives of the users who have created them. For this paper I have investigated how digital identities are formed and the space that they reside in, with the intention of demonstrating that cyberspace is a unique world that is being generated through the participation of users via the use of technology. The theory is that in cyberspace, digital identities are not "real" or "fake"; rather, they are identities that exist as a direct result of participation. To argue this theory, I have discussed the manner in which digital identities are created. The creation of the digital identity starts with the user and the decisions that are made in regards to the user's graphical representation. The creation of the digital identity is finalized by its acceptance in the digital community, and that act is achieved through displays of connections. After investigating how the digital identity is formed, I used surveys, questionnaires, and case studies to examine how and in what manner the users participate. In the final section I have analyzed how cyberspace is formed as a result of the participation of the users in it, and I have explained how these users are participating in a cyborg manner. As a result of the cyborg relationship a new world is formed, separate from that of the real world. The final finding of this paper is that a new world is being formed in cyberspace, and the identities that exist in this world do not have a classification of either real or fake. These digital identities exist as a consequence of the choices that the user has made in regards to their participation in cyberspace. This decision process allows the user to create any identity that they so desire, and it is then up to the other users in cyberspace to approve, or disapprove, of this identity, thereby establishing its place in the digital world.