i’m not so young that i’ve grown up immersed in the digital world – i spent a really good chunk of my undergrad reading books, not using google – but i’m still young enough that large parts of my life are intertwined with the online world. it’s easy for me to navigate digital spaces and i like to think i’m pretty good at solving problems when i encounter them in the virtual world. feeling like i’m somewhere in the middle means that i don’t really know what to think about this title, digital me, because what version are we even talking about?
we’re different online than we are in real life. at least, i think we are. the analogy that first came to my mind was to my teaching practice (but it relates also to any situation where i have to perform). i show my students the version of myself that i want them to see, and i’ve chosen this version because it best suits the context and helps me with my ethos. but in teaching it’s in the moment, it’s live, and i’m not always very polished. sure, i have a plan and i tend to manage to speak coherently, but i make mistakes and say confusing things and backpedal, and that’s okay because it’s live and therefore not recorded. and that’s where the analogy fails to connect to the digital me, because that me is on the internet forever once i share it, and so she is highly edited and, for lack of a better word, censored. i don’t mean that in some sort of conspiracy-to-hide-important-information way, but rather in the way that anyone who’s got even slightly perfectionistic tendencies will lean: content to be shared online is drafted, redrafted, scrapped, reorganized, and reformatted before it makes it out onto the internet. being someone who can be haunted by a typo in an email, i’m not exactly a shoot-from-the-hip netizen.
well, maybe that’s not entirely true. i’m pretty blunt and spontaneous on facebook. but then that’s a small sphere that’s closed to the public. i’ve maxed out every privacy setting available, and even have limited profile lists for certain types of facebook friends. i still see that space as a personal one, and so when my students try to add me as a friend i always refuse.
in the visitor–resident, personal–institutional spectrum , i think it makes a lot of sense that students tend to occupy opposite quadrants in their learning and personal activities. but i’m not a student, i’m a professional. sure, i embrace the idea of lifelong learning and believe that i will always try to pursue learning in tandem with work, but i don’t identify with being a student. so david white’s discussion isn’t really useful to me and my digital identity. well, maybe it’s a stretch to say it’s entirely useless, but (gasp!) i have to do a little thinking for myself to make it work.
so what then? i’d be interested to see where white would put something like linkedin or (as we’ve explored this week) a digital portfolio. it probably depends greatly on the person, and could span a really large range on both axes. we cultivate our online selves based on what aspects we want to share and make things available in different ways or to different extents to different circles. my linkedin profile is pretty open for others to explore but i don’t really spend time there, so as much as it’s part of my online residency, i’m not really interested in doing a lot of networking that way.
this blog is in a weird place too, but that’s probably because i’m not a fan of blogging. i did it, for a bit, when i was in undergrad. it was idiotic. i wrote narcissistic crap and overshared and it was all public, and yet the only people who were supposed to read it were people i already had relationships with. what can i say? i was a noob.
so many years later i’m back (wordpress feels a little classier than blogspot, i gotta say) and i don’t know how i feel about it. i mean, the context is much more valid and this is a good way to show my peers how i’m processing stuff in this course, but i’m not convinced that i’ll continue this part of my online life after this course is over. i hate the whole concept of “selfies all the time!” and without a reason to write, that’s what a blog feels like to me. maybe i’m old-fashioned in my idea of the kind of writing and publishing i want to be involved in, but blogging isn’t it.
so what is the digital me? ugh. awful question. it’s whatever i want it to be, really. that’s the best part about this online world: much as it can be scary to think that things you share can find their way into odd and unintended hands, you can at least find comfort in knowing that you can choose what goes out there and what stays tucked away.
unless you get hacked. then you’re screwed.
 White, D. Visitors and Residents: Credibility. [YouTube video.] Available: https://youtu.be/kO569eknM6U. Accessed 15 October 2015.