I have such a mixed outlook regarding social media. We have been asked to reflect on what factors we consider when releasing information about ourselves and how this contributes to our presentation of ‘self’ in an online world? My initial response is that save this blog page, and my seldom used Twitter account (still getting ready to dip my toes in that water) which of course, were set up as a response to our New Media Literacy course, I do not release any information about myself into the electronic ether. In this world of Amanda Todd and cyberbullying, the impacts of which touch my work fairly regularly, I am incredibly wary about what I want others to see about me (or my loved ones – whom I cannot protect in a virtual world). Tweets are made in the heat of a moment and retracted; images are posted and cannot be retrieved. Thinking about a ‘Surveillance Society’, a colleague who teaches Public and Private Investigations uses Facebook as a jumping off point to show her students exactly what information is out there about themselves and how easy it is for anyone with a little knowledge, to retrieve.
But, is this entirely true? Do I release nothing? Well, in all of the online courses that I have taken (and that numbers 18 at this point), I post with my full name and middle initial attached. We introduce ourselves and post weekly, using both personal and workplace examples to inform our forum submissions. In each of these, a persona emerges. Whether this is reflective of the real me or whether it is what Turkle calls a “constructed persona” ((1999) is not clear; I am not an objective judge of this. Because I have constructed a mental model of others in my course, so I am sure that they have done this for me.
As I scan our articles for this module, getting ready for our next major post, something said by Sherry Turkle resonated; “the little devices in our pockets are so psychologically powerful that they don’t even change what we do, they change who we are” (Turkle, 2012). Is this true? As I post this blog entry and prepare to launch into the Twitterverse, does this change who I am?
And if so, is this something I want to meet, or to run from?