Fork of Opinion: On Digital Identity and its Consequences


One of the issues facing any writer is authorship. We discuss this frequently in my class on Oscar Wilde. What is intended for public consumption, what isn't, and what are the implications of those intentions?

In the age of social media and blogging, most of us face this issue. Who are we online? Who are we publicly online? Who gets to see our different sides? Which sides do they get to see? My generation is on the edge of an obscured precipice when it comes to this sort of thing, because we grew up reaching outward on the internet. And yes, I was definitely publicly expressing my embarrassing obsession with the Twilight series in middle school (don't judge me I was 13 and at least Twilight never hoped that Anne Frank would have been a fan).

Here's what the question boils down to: Do I want to hide parts of who I am from potential employers, or do I want to assume anyone who is not down with who I am would not be worth working for anyway? Now granted, some things really should stay private: one's sex life, for example. But other things, like your Star Wars obsession or your cycling hobby or your youtube cover videos-- where does all of that fall?

On the one hand, you may want your work life to stay separate from your private life. You like your job staying your job, and your hobbies staying your hobbies. Things get muddled in between. And honestly, you don't like everyone being in on all your business all the time. You don't feel a need to express things publicly via social media. You worry about not being hired because of your weakness for Disney collectibles or your activity on motorcycle-related forums and find that those things are easy to simply excise from your public profiles.

On the other hand, you might be a very public person. An open book. You may be of the opinion that if people are going to treat you differently for who you are, then maybe they should know ahead of time. You pride yourself in being "what you see is what you get" and you've never felt the need to hide your quirks. You're of the opinion that people bond with individuals on the whole, not just the valuable pieces they need. You want to be Susan, not just the woman in accounts.

It's really about who we want to be, what kind of identity we hope to create and with whom do we want to be seen as what. The difficult part, of course, is that the digital frontier is so new that there are no set rules. Etiquette has yet to truly emerge or solidify and our generation is faced with so many choices, which can lead to an overwhelming amount of indecision.

I take solace in the fact that in a couple of years, everyone will be in the same boat with many people entering the workforce still having remnants of their blogs from age 14 floating around the internet. Having a cybertrail of adolescence and quirky hobbies will be the norm. Maybe the fact that I was really really into anime growing up won't be as embarrassing as anyone else's cyberpast. Or maybe I'll have to schlub through the awkwardness and suffer through this awkward in between so that today's middle schoolers will have my sympathy when I'm in a position to hire.

I like the idea of myself as a more public person though. As a blogger and a writer I position myself in a place to be seen and heard. I like it, it's a part of who I am and how I see myself fitting into the world. I think it's interesting to think about, though, the way that identity itself seems to be changing what with our many profiles and email addresses and methods of communication, public and private.

I think the key to developing a strategy to all of this is knowing yourself and your values-- and also what you want to do with your future. If you want to go into secret or government-type work, I'd cool it on twitter if I were you.


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1 comment:

  1. Ooh, I really like this post. This is something I've thought about a lot, but I don't think I've ever seen anyone else write about it. I really like your ideas on the subject!

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