Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Dylan Wittkower

Committee Member

Lawrence Hatab

Committee Member

David Roh


The purpose of this paper is to explore the application of Heidegger's authenticity to online identity formation. This paper will attempt to determine if there is any way in which an authentic identity can be created, either online or offline, by using social networking sites. It will examine the positive and negative consequences of social networking sites to determine if these sites can help to contribute to our overall being, or determine if these sites serve only as a dangerous distraction to an authentic personal identity.

To do this, this paper will analyze Heidegger's philosophy to see if it is possible for his philosophy, which was written pre-SNS, to be applicable to identity formation online. If so, then we shall explore how we form our identities both online and offline. By looking at selected philosophical and sociological works, we will determine what it means to form a personal identity in the offline world. We will look at the effects of public and private sphere convergence, over sharing online, online data commodification, and normative online culture to determine how the self is created and formed online. We will then determine if this online self has the ability to share any personal growth acquired through online interactions to the offline self and thereby allowing for a way to form an authentic self offline using online social networking.


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