Our online presence acts as a window into our lives, but how big a window is it?
Or, more importantly, how truthful a representation does it paint?
Only two decades ago, it was assumed that online behaviors did not reveal much. However, the internet evolved, and so did our use of it. Today, scholars even go as far as to suggest that perhaps our online activity offers a new level of truth. Is it not logical that with the intertwining of technologies and humanity, some aspects of 'humanness' would be captured in the numbers and machines? Moreover, one's identity, by its very nature, is on one level fragmented, potentially having as many personalities as the situations we are in, and simultaneously whole, with unity being a defining feature.
Digital data donor’s perceptions:
When asked about whether they felt their activity online was reflective of themselves, participants in this study shared viewpoints that ranged from ‘separation through extreme curatorship’ to ‘solidarity with harmonization.’
Distinctively, digital data donors perceived their digital data shadows to be social entities, actively constructed presentations of facets of their identities. The role of social media in creating these identities was elemental, for the majority of participant's digital traces were formed predominantly through daily social networking across the platforms Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. At the same time, participants recognized that the identities defined in the social web are not complete truths. This was informed by an understanding that the internet is a public place, where the less attractive daily truths and personal details are curated out. However, while the accuracy of self-published content is uncertain, some donors identified that perhaps what is really reflective of individuality are the details such as "the patterns of the words we use, or you know, the times we post."
The latter sparks an intense personal curiosity and prompts me to also ask myself - “What would the analysis of all the tiny details of my internet usage reveal about my habits, belief, social life, and general identity? And would I recognize myself?”