Mick or Keith: blended identity of online rock fans
by Andee Baker
This paper discusses the “blended identity” of online rock fans to show that the standard dichotomy between anonymous and real life personas is an inadequate description of self-presentation in online communities. Using data from an ethnographic, exploratory study of an online community and comparison groups including interviews, an online questionnaire, fan discussion boards, and participant/observation, the research analyzes fan identity online and then offline. Rolling Stones fans often adopt names that illustrate their allegiance to the band, along with avatars. Issues of gender and the technological change of software platform also affect types of online self-presentations and their construction. Fans engage in “role embracement”, merging their individual selves with the role of Stones fans, demonstrated by reactions of friends and family. Connections between offline and online settings occur, with band affiliation of fans expressed through choice of apparel offline, and usernames from online filtering into the offline interactions among fans.