Uncovering Digital Identities

Uncovering Digital Identities

This week I had the privilege of cybersleuthing Julia. Not going to lie, it was actually quite fun as Julia and I have known each other for a while.

It was easy to find out basic information about who Julia is, and what she enjoys doing from her social media and wordpress site. She has lots of education related resources on Twitter and her blog that clearly display her love for learning. This all helps create a positive, professional digital identity.

If you like beautiful art you need to check out Julia’s Instagram (Instagram link on her blog)! 

Through this activity I kept thinking about how easy it is to find out so much about people online. This further pushed me to think about my digital identity and what kind of an image I’m portraying.

When we post we want to look good and say the right thing. However, as we read about Madison’s story, this can be dangerous. As educators we need to teach students about the realities of social media. What you see is often not the full story. Which reminds me of this TED Talk in which Jon Ronson states, “these days the hunt is on for people’s shameless secrets”. We too often never know the full story. Either we post the nice filtered version of our life, or we post something that causes people to get at us for what was said. We really have in a sense taken away the voice that media once gave individuals. 

Image by Darwin Laganzon from Pixabay 

As our students are becoming more and more immersed in social media I think there’s a few key things to consider discussing with them. 

We can talk to students about digital identity pertaining to passwords and security issues. This article expands on that and could be adapted for talking with students.

Also, having students google themselves helps them see that things stick around for quite a while. As we’ve clearly learned in class, ANYTHING you post online never really disappears. This article, although from a couple years ago, gives insight into the confusing world of what deleting a post actually does. You don’t want something to come back and haunt you, as has happened to numerous people, like these Harvard students. (If you scroll down on that post, there’s ideas for teaching students about their digital identities). However, this also raises the topic of forgiveness. We make mistakes online, just like we do face-to-face, we’re only human.

As Spiderman once said, “[w]ith great power comes great responsibility”.

Quote from Quote Master

Let’s not make students live in fear of social media, but let’s give them resources and tools to make choices they won’t regret in the long run. Let’s also teach them to be real – responsibly of course – asking themselves, “would I do this or say this in real life?”. As we know, online often collides with real life at some point.

As role models, let’s practice intentionality with our digital identities, being responsible, but also real with the image we create.

“Identity will be the most valuable commodity for citizens in the future, and it will exist primarily online”.  

Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO

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