Do you fit the mold?

Of all of the readings this week I feel like “Split Image,” by Kate Fagan, gave me the most thoughtful reflection on the idea of digital identity.  While reading the story I began to think about myself as a teenage.  I was somewhat awkward, very shy and often struggling to figure out who I was in the context of my peers and my school life.  At home I was comfortable, it was my refuge from the outside world.  One of my most concerning aspects of the new “digital ” world, is it seems to be that we are always connected.  We know from the students we teach and the interaction we have with friends and family that teens are constantly connected to their peers.  They are expected to always be in touch, either through texts or snapchats.  At first it can seem harmless, they want to talk and share with their friends, so what is the harm in that?  The article sheds new light on a darker side of connecting.

The story follows Madison Holleran, a collage student who on the outside and in social media seemed to live a happy life, full of things she enjoyed and successes she had accomplished.  But the article reveals that Madison’s identity online and her real life were really two different realities.  In actuality Madison struggled with fitting in, depression, and suicidal thoughts.  In the article it says,”Everyone presents an edited version of life on social media.  People share moments that reflect an ideal life, and ideal self.”  I think that many teens face the same pressure to present an online persona that projects what they believe the world wants to see.  How often have we ourselves removed pictures that were “less than perfect” because we didn’t want anyone to see them.  One of the reasons I resisted Facebook and other forms of social media for as long as I did was that I was apprehensive about sharing my life so openly for people who I am not that close with to look at pictures and make judgments or decisions based on that.  As an adult I felt pressure to post only positive aspects of my life and rarely share how I might actually be feeling.  As a teen, it would be very challenging to separate my digital self from my actual life.  The article describes it as absorbing others filtered images of life, while walking through your own realities.  It would be very difficult to not project a feeling of “if everyone else is happy, why can’t I be?”  when we are only ever seeing their “altered” realities of their actual lives.

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Photo Credit: Christi Nielsen via Compfight cc

 

 

As a read through the rest of the readings for the week, I think that we have to be careful.  We want to feel connected to the world through our interactions online, but it can be dangerous to show who we really are to the online world.  It is not a caring environment all the time that we might like to hope it is.  I also think that it is important to recognize that for some of us, our online identities many not define us as accurately as we might portray.  to not let our online identities define us.  In a few of the articles like “Young Canadians in a Wired World,” “Welcome to the online world” and “Digital Diaries,” we realize that students are essentially growing up in a digital world that at points creates an identity that they may not eve be in control of.  Some examples where children have a digital footprint before they are old enough to use a computer.  Because these identities don’t go away, we want to make sure that we are addressing them in a healthy conscious of the lasting effect they might have.

Photo Credit: Meyer Potashman via Compfight cc

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The last article I took a look at was  “She’s still dying on Facebook.”  The article looks at how we remember those that we have lost and how they still remain even after they have past.  Reminders/notifications/ etc. popping up because of an algorithm in the settings that could have very painful results.  But this raises the question of who should manage one’s social media presence in the event of their death.  In the not too distant future, this will become more and more of an issue, how to respectfully say good-bye or let go of someone’s online presence.

In closing, from in some cases even before birth, we are developing online identities that represent a version of who we are.  The difference is that these versions don’t really ever go away, and the versions created either through our own efforts or that of others all come together to create a representation of us online.

 

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