By Emily Topper | firstname.lastname@example.org
In the constantly changing world of social media, online identity can either make you or break you.
Due to the presence that online identity has in the dating world, many people are experimenting with their identities on the web. Dating sites usually allow for users to customize their profiles and portray themselves a certain way. Because a person who is on an online dating site may not want to show certain personality traits on their dating profile, they can choose to cover up these traits and present themselves differently to the people who view their page.
Some people even go as far to create completely new identities on the web and include nothing about their real-life personalities in those profiles. Now that 40 million people in the U.S. are members of dating sites, blurred moral lines have the capacity to cause trouble.
Brian Schaffnit, Flagler College senior, was duped by a woman that he met online.
“I began talking to a woman online and we got along well, but we never made plans to meet,” Schaffnit said. “I ran into her at a bar in Gainesville and realized that she was extremely different in appearance than her online photos portrayed.”
Schaffnit was disappointed and discouraged in the woman’s false portrayal of herself.
“I felt lied to on a personal level,” Schaffnit said. “For me, honesty in the dating world — especially online — goes a long way.”
Other Flagler College students have had their fair share of drama and deception online as well. The Facebook page Flagler College Admirers, created in April of 2013, has reached over 1,000 ‘likes’ from Flagler students and alumni.
Updated frequently by an unknown administrator, the page allows for Facebook users to send anonymous love notes to people that they see around campus. Though originally a fun and innovative way for students to send shout-outs to their crushes, the page has been met with mixed reviews from Flagler students.
“In context, it’s a good idea,” says Justin Martin, junior. “You can tell the whole school who your crush is without actually talking to them. But it’s cowardly. Go find a person that you like and talk to them in person. Don’t have the virtual wall up between the two of you. Get the physical face-to-face communication in there, too.”
Matthew Rosado, a senior, understands why so many students are drawn to the page.
“People enjoy having this outlet. The campus is so close together and secrets are very hard to keep at such a small school,” Rosado said. “It’s a good way to get out what you need to say without having to say it.”
The administrator of the page remains vastly unknown, but seems to post most of the submissions that the page receives.
“I like to read the page for the cute and quirky comments that people write to their crushes,” states Victoria MacGregor, junior. “But sometimes I see posts that really aren’t admirable, and I wonder why the administrator chose to post something that would just start trouble.”
Kevin Ip, a junior, has a similar stance on the matter.
“I think Flagler Admirers started out as a wonderful idea. What I don’t like about the page is that every submission is posted regardless of what’s being said. In my opinion, the posts should be read thoroughly before they are posted.”
Many students in the past have found themselves talked about on the Flagler Admirers page, but not always in a positive light.
A detrimental post on the Flagler Admirers page about a student could cause the individual to have an online identity that might not be true to their real personality. Because of what has been posted about the student, their peers may gain a different impression of them.
“It might sound cheesy, but honesty is the best policy,” says Holly Neuhaus, junior. “When you aren’t being true to who you are, you ultimately only hurt one person: yourself. And it shows that you’re not comfortable with who you are.”