My experience sleuthing a classmate began by me putting on my detective hat and pretending I was conducting an investigation (yes, I love crime shows!). It did feel a little like I was invading privacy as I my classmate is someone I know and respect but since we were instructed to do so, I figured “Let’s have fun with this!”
So I made up a story first.
innette was evading the law because she was wanted for embezzlement. See, she had a sick second cousin twice removed who she just found out was her mother’s sister-in-law who they thought went missing on a trip to see some Eastern Orthodox murals in Sviyazhsk, a little town in Russia that no one’s heard of.
So Linnette, being the kind soul she is, kept skimming money from the company she worked for to help her cousin to pay for her liver transplant. Anyway, that’s what prompted the investigation, we needed to locate Linnette to make her pay for her crimes.
However, we later discovered that we were searching for the wrong person all along as we were looking for LYNNETTE and not LINNETTE! What tragic errors can be occur with ONE typo!
So Linnette got her name cleared and all the charges dropped. If we hadn’t kept analyzing Linnette’s online identity and questioning why a Canadian, with free health care, would embezzle money to pay for a procedure that she wouldn’t actually need to pay for because she lives in Canada, then we wouldn’t have realized we were looking into the wrong person!
The moral of this story is: be careful with your online presence - it might just save you from wrongful accusations one day!
All jokes aside, your online identity is seen to be a representation of who you are and can mislead other's perceptions of you to your detriment, so be reflective.
Following my make believe reason for sleuthing my classmate, I remembered this quote from class:
As Monica Lewinsky said in her TED Talk:
“the attention and judgment I received, not the story, was unprecedented... I was seen by many but actually known by few... it was easy to forget that that woman was dimensional, had a soul, and was once unbroken.
And this was in 1998, can you imagine the attacks that would’ve occurred with today’s fast paced social media?? The ability to tackle someone’s character in the matter of seconds and bombard Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with alerts, it’s no wonder why cyberbullying has led to “suicidal ideations more significantly than offline bullying” (The price of shame, 2015).
The other side of social media poses just as many threats but are less visibly obnoxious to the public - the threat of portraying a different life than what’s being experienced in the non virtual.
Split Image, an article outlining the troubles of Madison Holleran’s Instagram displaying a happy and purposeful life when in reality she was suffering greatly with depression and suicidality.
“Everyone presents an edited version of life on social media. People share moments that reflect an ideal life, an ideal self,” it’s not a new concept. "Hundreds of years ago, we sent letters by horseback, containing only what we wanted the recipient to read. Fifty years ago, we spoke via telephone, sharing only the details that constructed the self we want reflected.”
Madison and her friend, who was also contending with a hard time, would scroll through Instagram and say, “this is what we want our life to be like.” However, Madison’s depression clouded her ability to recognize that her friends who were also struggling were participating in the same deceptive online presence, with the goal to project an ideal life.
“With Instagram,... [y]oung women spend a significant chunk of each day absorbing others’ filtered images while they walk through their own realities, unfiltered.”
Even though we may have the logic accessible to understand that most social media is projection, it’s goal is to strike our emotional side. Influencing our insecurities to buy this, like that, be more like this to be loved/admired/sought after/etc., and the consequences are more advertising dollars for companies and lower self-esteem for consumers. It’s the ideal marketing campaign for disaster.
Saying all that, it becomes imperative to educate students (AND OURSELVES!) to look at the social media of our friends, family, and society with critical eyes. We need to start questioning what we view on the internet and the online communities we participate in and teach others, our students, our friends, our not-so-tech-savvy grandparents, that being in a digital world requires you to be be an active participant with your online identity. It might be too much to say "Let’s reconcile our IRL self with our virtual self" since:
"[We are] multifaceted human beings... [to] be confined to just a single account, or a single all-in-one persona, is confining... People have diverse, rich lives that aren't contained within a single idea and personae... "
This is all too true! To finish then, at best, let's strive to educate about digital citizenship, teach how to navigate our online identity or identity facets according to our morals, values, and ensure to be guided by empathy and compassion.
Jenn New - an outgoing, nature loving, cooking competition addict, Moose Jawvian who just happens to be a C1-C2 ventilator dependent quadriplegic.