The Search for Identity in Online Chat
Keywords: Identity, hidden identity, gendered-based identities, self-disclosure, disguised chat
Internet communication is one of the most important applications of the 21st century. College students are among those who make use of this activity for both academic and personal interest. Students usually vary in their use, appreciation and response to this widely used activity. Accordingly, the present research paper aims at answering the following questions: to what extent college students use the instant-messaging system in initiating and developing personal and social communication? and to what extent the revealed identities are real or fake? If real, how many aspects of identity are real or fake? What is the purpose behind using fake identities? Are there any similarities and differences between gender-based identities? To what extent messages reflect the user’s identity and gender? And what are the different ways of identity manifestations? To achieve the above aims, a questionnaire has been conducted on the students of Baghdad University to closely examine the relationship between online interaction and gender identities. The results showed that the highest percentage of students, 94%, agrees that chat is of great help in establishing and maintaining distant and local relationships. While the lowest percentage, 1.1%, goes with the proposition that chat is the most important application of the internet.