Will you ever have just one digital ID?

by Dan Wade, Activation Lead, LockerDome

Despite all efforts to the contrary, the vast majority of Internet users will never form a single digital identity.


As early as 2007, the term “digital schizophrenia” was being used to address the idea of a disparity between users’ real lives and the ones they were creating online, though at the time it was used in closer connection with massive multiplayer online role-playing games like Second Life and World of Warcraft. The term itself is problematic not only because it perpetuates a common confusion between two actual psychological diagnoses – schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder (DID) – but also because the lack of a formal definition means it can be used to decry any number of perceived issues having loosely to do with how identity works outside of physical spaces rather than highlighting a specific problem.


Within social media, the term is normally used to describe users’ desire to create multiple identities on a single platform or to keep identities restricted within the bounds of one platform rather than using it to authenticate another; e.g. never using Facebook to post a comment on an outside article or preventing Instagram from connecting to Twitter. This is often tied to security or privacy concerns, and while Facebook recently announced plans to address these issues by giving users the ability to authenticate other apps using their Facebook account without giving away personal information, privacy isn’t the only reason users choose not to link accounts.


Proponents of a more cohesive online experience laud the ability to move from one site to another without having to log in with different accounts at each stop, viewing a litany of usernames and passwords as vestiges of an era without better choices. As sharing options have gotten more granular on social graph-based platforms like Facebook and Google+ however, there is a near compulsion for people to connect — even if they don’t subsequently share — the disparate parts of their digital life around a single hub. Platforms that already link users with the people they know see the next level of connections not between people, but between their existing users and the other aspects of their digital life.


This brings them into conflict with interest-graph based platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, LockerDome, Reddit and others that give their users the choice of whether to connect their identities or leave them more clearly delineated. This is probably the largest misconception surrounding digital schizophrenia: The opposite of a single digital identity isn’t the full anonymity offered by things like Whisper, Secret, or 4chan: it’s simply offering users the choice up front about how interconnected they want their experience to be.


This is where an evocative naming scheme and reality come into conflict: While it would be exceptionally difficult to argue against effective treatments for true schizophrenia or DID, digital identities simply do not abide by the same rules. No matter how many sites, apps, portals, and platforms users connect around a single hub, there will always be aspects of users’ real lives they choose to exclude. This process of identity curation inherently produces a digital identity that diverges from the real one.


The flexibility of the phrase digital schizophrenia means it’s unlikely to ever leave the tech lexicon, but continuing to give users the freedom to shape their own experience is far more important than eradicating any single term. Even overlooking sharing options at the hub, forcing a unification of a user’s social graph and their interest graph is unlikely to produce the dreamed-of result of a single digital self, and instead simply dissuade users from interacting genuinely either socially or with the things that interest them.



As the Activation Lead for LockerDome, Dan Wade builds and executes campaigns for brands, media companies, professional sports teams, and a variety of other organizations on top of LockerDome’s swiftly growing platform and highly coveted user base. LockerDome has been called “Facebook on steroids” and a “future Wall Street darling” by MarketWatch, named one of Forbes magazine’s “2013 Sports Names You Need to Know”, and labeled by Adweek as “in the center of the digital revolution.”


The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to their colleagues followers and the public at large.  In their own words, they address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital.  Unique to cynopsis, Cynsiders lives on the cynopsis.com homepage and is promoted across the daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at kittybowe@cynopsis.com





What is Your Preferred Way to Log In to a Website? in LockerDome’s Hangs on LockerDome

Related Stories

Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location

Scott Cawthon unveils another card up his sleeve, unleashing the first trailer for Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location, breaking the news through the debut trailer and a website update. Promising to launch this fall, the new game extends the standout horror series, which has already seen four main FNaF titles. Trailer music by Leon […]

05/24/16: Cynopsis Jobs

New Jobs and more!

JOB OF THE WEEK MANAGER DIGITAL SALES OPS NBC LA Experience trafficking video ads in an ad server DFPP, FreeWheel, Digital Trafficker, Operative, Rich Media, 3rd Party Tags, and Ad Ops. Full info/apply HERE. … CYNOPSISJOBS 05.24.16 Good morning. It’s Tuesday, May 24, 2016, and this is your weekly issue of Cynopsis: Jobs! CYNOPSIS […]

05/24/16: Universal TV nabs Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller; Casey Bloys named HBO programming president; Oxygen greenlights transgender models series

Carpool Karaoke set to go global (Darren Michaels)

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM SMITHSONIAN CHANNEL Smithsonian Channel™ It’s Brighter Here™ A legendary basketball player. An unparalleled achievement. What ever happened to Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game ball? SPORTS DETECTIVES Investigating the biggest mysteries in sports history New Episode Sunday 9PM ET/PT For ad sales contact maryellen.bottone@smithsonianchannel.com. CYNOPSIS 05.24.16 Good morning. It’s Tuesday May 24, […]

05/24/16: BuzzFeed to launch news video unit; 20th Century Fox takes over Snapchat Lenses; Digital Content Next makes ad-blocking recommendations

BuzzFeed to launch unit devoted to news videos

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM PHUNWARE SNAPSHOT: tvOS: When, How and Why to Establish a Presence on Apple TV Download this tvOS snapshot to learn about: Why the question is not IF brands should invest in tvOS, but when and how much How Apple makes tvOS development simple and efficient Why 40% of the engineering effort […]

05/24/16: NBC Sports drafts a Playmaker; TNT’s rating’s Thunder; NASCAR offers Remembrance

NBC Sports drafts a Playmaker (Facebook)

CYNOPSISSPORTS 05.24.16 Good morning. It’s Tuesday May 24, 2016, and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.  NBC Sports Digital is introducing Playmaker Media in a move to offer “end-to-end support for companies in need of best-in-class live streaming and VOD solutions” by leveraging the company’s experience streaming sports events. At launch, Playmaker is […]