valerievisual

Readings, and Related Inspirations

Digital Spaces – Digital Identity(s)

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When I think about the words “Digital Identity,” my first thought is a question: “Who am I online?” This question brings up several subsequent questions such as, ‘am I the same on every site?’ ‘on every profile?’ ‘do I behave differently on facebook than I do on twitter?’ ‘Do I email differently from my gmail versus my work/school?’ – the resounding answer to these questions is pretty much the same: “I am a virtual chameleon.”

In the article “Queerness, Sexuality, Technology and Writing” created from an online MOO conversation about digital identity in 2004, Keith Dorwick states, “Things that blur boundaries are always dangerous” (37). Perhaps he is correct in this statement, but in context, Dorwick is talking about sexuality. This statement however, brings up ideas of the ways in which identities and identity markers are not necessarily distinct, but often intertwined and inseparable, both in real life and online. Can the ways in which disembodiment allows us to experiment with alternate/alternative identities in virtual spaces be ‘dangerous’?

And what about images? In “Queerness, Sexuality, Technology and Writing,” images remain largely undiscussed until more than the second half of the conversation. Eventually, the speakers begin to discuss images and especially Photoshop around page 35-36. This has changed a lot in the last 10 years as people challenge ideas of identity and identification in online spaces.  Often, it seems, we are asked to share endless selections of ourselves looking into the camera from unnatural angles to hide any possible flaw in facial structure or weight.

And we don’t stop at self-portrait shots of our own faces from above, but resort to displacing self with images of our children, our pets, or even people that we have no connection to, like celebrities, or cartoons. The article “Get Your Kids Off Your Facebook Page” is an interesting look at this idea that many women chose to hide behind the image of a cute child, giving off the message that they are their children. The article discusses several reasons that many women might make the choice to use their children as their profile picture, but it does not account for the multi-identity issue many of us suffer from in the online spaces. Increasingly, I hear adults in my age bracket [25-35] admit that they are only on facebook because everyone is, and that’s the only way they ever find out what is happening. Without disclosing personal stories, I will admit that without facebook, I would have missed out on HUGE events in the lives of people I care about.

Clearly, our online identities are linked to the spaces we chose to use online, and so it is important not only to evaluate how we express ourselves in the digital universe, but how we chose to express/represent ourselves in specific spaces within the digital sphere.

 

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4 thoughts on “Digital Spaces – Digital Identity(s)

  1. Hi Valerie, I love your idea of “identities and identity markers are not necessarily distinct, but often intertwined and inseparable, both in real life and online.”

  2. Your statement,”Often, it seems, we are asked to share endless selections of ourselves looking into the camera from unnatural angles to hide any possible flaw in facial structure or weight,” leaves a lot for thought. How much of ourselves are we willing to share? I recall from class that several people were discussing trying to confuse their search engines by creating identities that were blurred.

  3. I worked with a first-year student in the Writing Studio last week who confessed that she’s not a Facebook fan and would rather spend time with friends in person, even if it’s a short meeting over coffee. The pressure to be on the site comes from her mom! Are we going to reach a point when those who want to opt out of the online social circle will be left behind, if not ostracized? Scary thought!

  4. I think we are already reaching this point! There are events and conversations that only happen over Facebook and the people not on the site do not get invited or are not aware. For example, people often just update their Facebook status for big announcements, but don’t call all of their friends to tell them the news. Not on Facebook and you miss out.

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