Interview with Una Mullally
Internet and Identity
Who are we? Not an easy question to answer nowadays. Our true self and our presentation of ourselves are intertwined and mutually dependent, says journalist Una Mullally. In this interview she argues the case for an extension of Freud’s traditional model.
How does the social media know more about us than we do ourselves?
Social media knows more about us than we do ourselves because of the data sets they are gathering on us. Because of the harvesting of personal data we often have to think about what we like but because of the amount of information that we've given over to social media sites they don't need to think, they just know it straight away.
You were talking about the online ego. What do you mean by this?
What I mean by the online ego or as I call it the I-go is that it's a fourth element of the contemporary psyche whereby we create a digital representation of ourselves and project a version of ourselves online.
And then responding to that that in turn moulds our real life self. So I think because we live so much online
because we think so much online that we now need to be thinking about how the self and how one's personal
identity is expanding beyond the traditional structure posed by Freud.
In terms of identity, what role do our real selves play?
I think our identities now are an amalgamation or a collage of what we project online and who we are really ourselves. We like to think that we are autonomous beings with agency and that our opinions are original. But the fact is they’re being honed and influenced by how algorithms are dictating what news feeds you see, what information we have. So I think that increasingly our
online presence is impacting our real life identity. So I don't really know what our identities are anymore! I think they are an amalgamation of many things.