What is your digital self?

My group project is social media. So talking about how we are represented online fits the blog post very well. How are you portrayed online? Do you filter some stuff? Are you friends with everyone? Did you change your privacy settings? Those are one of the many ways we can alter the way we are seen online. Watson’s “Studying the Digital Self” is categorized into five different groups. It is broken down into interpreting digital archives, evaluating claims of authenticity, understanding the use of branding, parsing identity online, and assessing quantification.

I decided to ask some of my close friends Joe and Marc about what they thought about their digital self. The very first question I asked them was the definition of digital self. For Joe, it meant what the online world knows about him. The things that people can find about him online. Although he is very family oriented, he doesn’t post many of his personal stuff online. He keeps it professional and only post and share information to promote his organization in school. He use it as an advertisement tool. He changes his cover and profile pictures to events and information his organization plans. For Marc, it is the opposite. He posts a lot of pictures whenever he travels. He likes to keep his Facebook updated with many pictures and statuses of his personal life. The reason why he likes to keep it update it is because Facebook is a way for his family to be updated on his life. Being an out of state student, he doesn’t always have the time to call home so his family can see.

According to Watson, the way they interpret their digital archives is very different. Their habits and desires online are very different. In terms of authenticity, Joe’s digital self is more professional compared to Marc. They both have LinkedIn accounts but Joe is able to present his talents and skill much better. He keeps his personal life away from the online world. Also, Joe knows how to brand himself. He even has his own logo that he labels in his products such as flyers. Talking to Joe and Marc about their digital self was very interesting because of how different their perspective are when it comes to social media.

I think that another great point is from the book Alone Together by Sherry Turkle. She interviewed different people about how teenagers see social media as. One good point was how they would use it to stalk people. When they add their family members, they can’t help it but to stalk and look at their pictures. And how some teenagers think that their family might be too old to even have a Facebook and MySpace. Joe doesn’t like having people look into his private life so he keeps a lot of things away. He knows that people will look into his past from social media. Marc is completely different. He knows that people will look at his pictures so he shares more. He knows that his family wants to look at pictures and know more about his life so he posts more.

Another great point by Sherry Turkle is that we never know who is on the other side of the screen. People can lie about their information and post pictures that are not even them. Our digital self can be used to show our best but some people might lie to make themselves look even better.

In conclusion, we show many different side to friends, family, and strangers. The way we are portrayed online is also very different. We get to choose what we want people to see. We are able to block and hide things we didn’t like. We don’t have to put out everything about us online. We can put our best traits online. Like Joe and Marc, we all use social media to our advantages. We use it to communicate with people we know, network with others, and use it as an advertisement tool. Our digital self is like another part of our personality were we try to make ourselves look the best.

Footnotes

Turkle, Sherry. (2011). Alone Together. New York, NY: Basic Books

Conversations with friends over how they use social media.

Watson, Julia (2014) “Studying the Digital Self”

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