Soraj Hongladarom (2011).

The emergence of social networking sites has created a problem of how the self is to be understood in the online world.

As these sites are social, they relate someone with others in a network. Thus there seems to emerge a new kind of self which exists in the online world. Accounting for the online self here also has implications on how the self in the outside world should be understood. It is argued that, as the use of online social media has become more widespread, the line between the two kinds of self is becoming fuzzier. Furthermore, there seems to be a fusion between the online and the offline selves, which reflects the view that reality itself is informational.





Ultimately speaking, both kinds of selves do not have any essence, i.e., any characteristic inherent to them that serves to show that these selves are what they are and none other. Instead an externalist account of the identity of the self is offered that locates the identity in question in the self’s relations with other selves as well as other events and objects. This account can both be used to explain the nature of the self both in the online and the offline worlds.


“An externalist account of the identity of the self is offered that can both be used to explain the nature of the self both in the online and the offline worlds.”

NOTE: Hier wordt verteld dat er op een psychologisch niveau geen verschil zit tussen een Online en Offline persona, maar dat het om een overkoepelende identiteit gaat. Die identiteit staat voor hoe mensen in beide werelden ( On- en Offline) interacteren met elkaar en de wereld.


The most intimate thing that we can have, our own persons and our own selves, are being affected significantly by the technologies. Many people are constructing their own alternate personas online; even in social networking media, which are assumed to be a place where one reveals oneself to others, are also being used in such a way as to present entirely new personae to the public.


These personae do share deep seated metaphysical affinities with the real-life, offline individuals, and the strategies used by those in the offline world to construct their identities are also used in the online world.


I have argued that personal identity is constituted more by external factors such as social perception and various sorts of documentation and physical traits than by the internal ones such as memory and the subjective feeling of being oneself through time. However, this does not seem to carry over for the identity of the self, since this is more a matter of being referent of the first-person pronoun, which points deeply to the sense of being the subject of the various thoughts and feelings. Kant’s view on the Transcendental Unity of Apperception might at first sight be able to explain how the identity of the self is fixed, but as we have seen Kant’s view succeeds only in fixing identity, but not uniqueness. It seems that external factors are still required for the latter. In the online world, things are again similar.


We can find an analog Kant’s TUA in the online world. There must be something functioning as the ‘I think’ that binds up all of the various texts and images posted online as belonging to one and the same self. This binding, again, does not have much to do at all with the content of what is posted. For that we need the external factors to construe their meanings and how they are received and perceived by the community of other online users, who all together form the social network. But if all this is tenable, then the two worlds— online and offline—seem to collapse into one, and we cannot really tell this collapsed world to be either strictly one or the other.

NOTE: De auteur legt hier uit dat, zoals in Kant’s TUA, in de online wereld er ook een soort bindende factor moet zijn die een identiteit geeft aan ‘alle content die door dezelfde persoon is gepost’ waarbij de inhoudt van de content niet relevant is; de logica achter het posten van een bepaalde reeks content zegt meer over de identiteit van een persoon dan de daadwerkelijke content zelf. Dat resulteert in de eindconclusie van dit artikel, waarin de online en offline identiteit in elkaar overgaan en daarmee één persoon vormen. Op een psychologisch niveau maakt het niet uit of een handeling on- of offline plaatsvindt want de beredenering blijft hetzelfde/unaltered.