Everyone is in identity formation. We are all in a different stage of identity development. Some of us are just starting to figure out who we are. Others of us have achieved an identity status that is fully formed and developed.
Identity formation is the balance of exploring possible identities and making commitments to identities that we have explored and tried out. Identity can only be formed after exploration.
I was talking to a few professors a few days ago. They were talking about their teens online – posting things on Facebook and their many other profiles. They had strict rules for when and how long they can be on the Internet.
I had explained to them the difference between a projected self and real self. You have a social identity (projected self) and your ego identity (real self). Both of these are who you are, but the real self is completely who you are. It is possible to project a self that is exploring and hasn’t been formed, but when you post on your Facebook profile or write on your blog, people seeing it on the screen cannot tell if it is your projected self or your real self.
I’m also currently reading a book that talks about trust and being honest online. In the case of someone that is projecting a self, they are being honest – and it might not be congruent with all of their selves. On the computer screen, there is no difference. When you post – no matter what stage of identity development you are, it all looks the same on screen. We cannot tell if it’s the real you or you that you’re exploring. We can’t tell the difference.