Fragmented identity

Posted by Flux on 

8 July 2024

What we learnt:

Our conversations with these 30 young people revealed something that we had not specifically been looking for – that this generation has fragmented identities. This insight is not entirely new since young people have always had different personalities from their parents compared to their friends. But, social media and technology have increased the number of personalities they adopt. They exist across several plains simultaneously as sometimes entirely different versions of themselves. The most popular platform within this cohort is Instagram (77%) use it while TikTok (60%) is close runner up.

“I spend most of my time on Instagram. I use my Instagram like I decided to have two accounts, my personal page and my work page.” – Sizwe (Black, male)

“I have got two Instagrams. One is my daily, normal Instagram. And then I have got like, I think they call it a spam account or a dupe account. I call it a spam account. Where it’s more for my close friends and I feel more comfortable posting my daily, what I do every single day.”  – Rebecca (20, White, female)

Whereas now it’s more of fragmentation, where I will show up differently on Facebook for mom and granny, and I will show up on Instagram, then I will show up on a different platform, then I will show up in person, then I will show up online. So it’s not a case of having a schizophrenic identity, it’s rather this understanding that, in and always on, always connected, always surveilled, we have to be very conscious about what facets of our personality we’re showing to what people and what groups at what time. No, your boss doesn’t actually need your whole self to show up. He only gets me Monday to Friday for these particular hours, and he only gets my brain, doesn’t actually get to know about the other parts of me.”  – Bronwyn Williams, Flux Trends

What does the research/experts say:

Casey Lewis, a New York City-based consultant who runs After School, a newsletter on Gen Z trends, says “Gen Yers made their jobs central to their identities, this is absolutely not the case for Gen Zers. I’ve worked with Gen Zers who are not willing to associate themselves with their workplace publicly.”

Timmu Tõke, CEO and founder of Ready Player Me, says “… ultimately you will likely land on a few different identities. You will not use an infinite amount because you still want to create some kind of a connection and maybe live out different parts of your own character in those identities.”

What can businesses and policymakers do about this?

These multiple identities pose a challenge for brands. A deeper understanding of how young people engage with varying social media platforms is essential. For example, Facebook is not popular among young people, although they access the platform to keep in touch with their older relatives. Many young people view Twitter to be an antagonistic and toxic platform. 

As employers of these multifaceted workers, respect that young people may not be willing to divulge personal information to colleagues or attend work socials outside of office hours. Older employees made their jobs central to their identities. However, younger workers place more emphasis on boundaries between work and play.

Policymakers must also take heed of this attribute of young people. Some European countries, Australia and Kenya, have introduced legislation commonly known as the “Right to Disconnect” to prevent employers from expecting employees to answer calls, text messages or emails outside working hours, at weekends or on public holidays. As with brands, lawmakers should also seek to understand the different personas that each social media platform brings about. Collected data can facilitate tailored communication with this young demographic.

Governments are in different stages of introducing digital ID systems, which electronically collect and store credentials or attributes, including physical or behavioural attributes used to identify a person. As governments work toward building digital identities for citizens, privacy has to be at the core of design. In theory, all information associated with a digital ID could be shared with a government agency during every interaction, whether needed or not. “Too often, governments collect way more information than they need,” says Morgan Wright, a Center for Digital Government (CDG) senior fellow, leading to surveillance concerns. Self-sovereign identity is digital identity that an individual manages without third parties storing their data. Privacy advocates say that this has the potential to solve the problems of digital identification and authentication and to give individuals complete control of their digital identity. Considering how Gen Z likes to reveal and conceal aspects of their identity according to audience and context, policymakers should consider self-sovereign (as opposed to state-managed) identity options that allow citizens to provide only context-dependent necessary information as and when required.

By Flux Trends 

The data and quotes mentioned above refer to a project that we are in the midst of, in conjunction with Student Village called “The 30/30/30 Project” whereby we collected insights from 30 South Africans, under the age of 30, 30 years into our new democracy.


Use these and many more insights from the 30/30/30 Project Report to BUILD your team, by booking a Bridgebuilder™  Workshop. 

Close the generation gap and dive into the future of work and how to manage it.

Contact Bethea Clayton at  or +27764539405, if you are interested in exploring any of these options with your team or clients.

Image credit

Arrow Up

Related Trends

The Business of Disruption: “Futurenomics” Edition 
What to expect from BizTrends 02.02.2022
Die wêreld en besighede in 2022, BRONWYN WILLIAMS – WINSLYN | 30 DES 2021 | kykNET
Through the eyes of Gen Z: A glimpse of the Post-Pandemic Workplace
Targeted Dream Incubation | WINSLYN TV