How much do you really know about your digital identity?
In today's world, things are more digital than ever before. It seems as though anytime I go anywhere with friends or family we are documenting our experiences on snap-chat or Instagram. I'm wondering how that may affect our relationships to each other and why it is so important to do that. Is it for the attention we get from others? Are we creating a picture of our lives that showcases only the positives to others in order to be accepted? I have been reflecting on why I feel it necessary to be sharing on social media and I honestly don't know that I have an answer to that. I know I want my friends to see what I am doing all the time but I can't place why I want that. I have also noticed that I tend to only share pieces of my life that are positive and fun. I do not have many vulnerable posts about difficult times in my life.
Previously in my life I was going through a challenging time and was actually diagnosed with depression but no one would have been able to guess it by the posts and way I portrayed myself to the people around me. This is something that I am seeing more and more in people and it was a very real situation for a girl named Madison Holleran. I recently read an article titled Split Image and it was a story of a girl who died by suicide but everyone around her was shocked because of how great her life seemed. On Instagram, "Madison Holleran's life looked ideal: star athlete, bright student, beloved friend. But the photos hid the reality of someone struggling to go on" (Fagan, K., 2015). This is something that was all too real to me because this girl was a varsity athlete...like me. She was always happy and a bright student...like me. She was a friend and daughter and loved by all...like me. But she was battling something dark and dangerous all on her own. This is where my story changes because I was lucky enough to have someone next to me who guided me through and got me the help I needed, but all too often people suffer in silence and can't go on.
So why is it that we have these online identities and sometimes even multiple online identities?
I do not have an answer to that question but apparently this is something that is more normal than you think. In an article titled "Having Multiple Online Identities is More Normal than you Think", by Nicole Lee, she talks about how having these online identities is much more common than we may think. One quote she stated was, "though my Instagram is account is public, it isn't meant for my family to see". To me this is confusing because if something is public then how can you expect your family members not to follow you. I feel as though my accounts online are all there for anyone to see and I generally keep my real life linked closely to my online life. Although this may be true for me, many people say that they use their multiple accounts to reach and communicate with different kinds of people. I honestly didn't understand that until I began thinking more about how I use my Twitter account as a professional growth tool and a space to build a community online.
I It is something that has allowed me to grow as an educator and also connect to some amazing and experienced teachers, admin, etc. So part of me is starting to understand the multiple online identities because it allows you to connect to others with similar interests that may not have been possible otherwise. It does also make more sense to have these multiple identities because, "people have diverse, rich lives that aren't contained within a single idea and personae." This makes me wonder if I need to start having more interests besides education and sports, ha ha!
This brings me to an activity that we did in class. We were asked to look into someone in our class to see what we could find for their online identity.
I was going to look at a girl named Larea Johnson and see what her online presence was like. I found out that Larea has a Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and WordPress account.
Through Larea's social media I was able to find out that she is a pre-service teacher and an education student at the University of Regina. She is 22 years old and her birthday is on November 15th. She grew up in Assiniboia, SK, but also did some of her education at Briercrest. She has two brothers named Matthew and Carter and her parents names are Monty and Kimberley. I also found out that she is currently in a relationship with Nathan Lewis.
Larea loves her family, friends, boyfriend, the lake, home (Assiniboia), travelling and volleyball.
My overall impression of Larea strictly from her online presence is that she is young, professional, family oriented, happy and athletic. If I was strictly looking online to hire someone, I would hire Larea. She has no posts that are inappropriate from what I found and she promotes herself in a positive and professional manner. Larea tends to be an under-sharer. I was unable to identify what she does for work outside of school or much of her interests by her profiles.
This was an interesting activity because I wonder if Larea's online identity portrays her reality or if she only shares certain things online.