But Who Are You Really?

Real-time offers. Hyperpersonalization. Geolocalization. After attending the Everyone is Someone Else event, part of Social Media Week in Toronto, it’s clear that the future of Internet experiences will be built around the user.

The panel of speakers reminded us that it was not that long ago that the Internet was thought of as the Wild West. With avatars and screen names to hide behind, people were free to say and do as they pleased. They could go on rants in forums, illegally download movies and join whichever embarrassing fan club they pleased – all with no real world repercussions.

But then we got social.

The arrival of social media caused a shift in our online behaviour. How? By making us register with our real names. And just like that we became more than a screen name – we had names, friends and families, jobs and community affiliations.

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As the Internet filled up with real people an interesting thing happened – we all got really self-conscious. Contradictory I know. Here we are posting our lives for all to see on the Internet, but at the same time it’s the most orchestrated dog and pony show you’ve ever seen. Choosing a display picture? You better be laughing in it. Checking-in? Make sure it’s somewhere fun. Liking a brand page? Cool companies only.

The way in which we cultivate our online persona – highlighting our best traits, hiding the bad – can easily give way to a jaded worldview. Social networks have become an online Disney World where the sun shines every day, but once in a while, it might not be such a bad thing if there was a cloud in the sky.

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