Will the real Katie Rosenkranz please stand up…

6 Mar

Digital identity is an important aspect of digital literacy, and often seen as a separate part or extension of identity strictly related to our online persona. After exploration of various articles, my own vlog creation, and viewing other classmates vlogs and blog posts, I feel this needs to shift from being viewed as a part of who we are, but rather to a more holistic approach. Online, “in real life”, professionally, personally, who we are is just that…who we are.

via GIPHY

 

The main article my classmate/”in real life” best friend Jana, based our vlog on was by Cristina Costa and Ricardo Torres titled “To be or not to be, the importance of digital identity in a networked society.”   What I really appreciated about this article was the breakdown of aspects of digital identity into dichotomies, which made the large over arching topic of digital identity easier to relate to and reflect on.

  1. Open vs. Closed – What is public for the world to see about you? What is private?
  2. Single vs. Multiple –Do you have separate personal and professional accounts?
  3. Genuine vs. Fake – Is the persona you use online true to who you are?

In this blog post, I want to reflect my own digital identity and these dichotomies, as well as the impact this will have on the students I teach.

Although these dichotomies are presented separately in the article, they are undoubtedly intertwined in the presentation and reputation (see our vlog for a sweet T-Swift duet.. for real), of ourselves online. I got Facebook when I was in grade 12, and it’s popularity continued to rise as I went through my undergraduate degree. I remember being quite literally terrified by my education professors that my students, colleagues, and future employers would find my profile and I would ultimately never get a job because there would be some party picture of me tagged to ruin my life. My security settings needed to be top notch (open vs. closed), I needed to go by a different name (genuine vs. fake), and I better not ever be seen drinking a beer in a photo. I locked down my profile, changed my name to Katie Nicole (my middle name), and removed almost all options to be tagged without my approval first.

This is not to say anything I had been posting was inappropriate, but from my early use of Facebook, as a young soon to be educator, I was definitely hyper aware of  what I was sharing. As much as I don’t think these scare tactics were the best method, I consider myself lucky to have been “older” when I first started using Facebook. I think back to all the photos my friends and I took in elementary school with our disposable cameras, waiting an hour for my pictures to get developed at Wal-Mart, and the genuine silliness that went along with being a pre-teen. I am happy to say those photos are stored safely in a box in my storage room, only seeing the light of day for embarrassing slideshows at friends’ weddings or the odd throwback Thursday.

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Speaking of embarassing photos…

I even remember my first ECMP 355 class with Alec, and being hesitant to create a Twitter account that was open. Anyone could see this? I had been trained to view public as bad as a future teacher. I would have followers/follow people I didn’t know personally? The whole thing weirded me out. It took me a while that class to get comfortable using Twitter, and I won’t lie I created a separate “personal” twitter account once the class was done. It has taken me 6 years of teaching and many more of maturity for me to really become comfortable with who I am, digitally. (And in more ways probably). I am a teacher –every moment of every day and I am also a human. I share things that are important to my life, with people who are important to me. In researching about personal vs. private, I came across this article. These words rang true to me and my beliefs:

If you would not want your professional connections to see what you post in your personal social media feeds, it might be time to reflect on why you post the kinds of information on any feed at all. The truth is that, no matter how tight your privacy settings, anything you post online is potentially discoverable by anyone. – Kerry Gallagher

Our students today, don’t have this choice at all. For a lot of them, and for our future students, Facebook has been around since their birth. Their parents have been sharing those cute chubby roll leg photos and buck teeth moments with their friends, family, and ultimately the entire digital world, starting their digital footprint, and beginning to build their digital identity for them. Some parents purchase domain names for their kids, or even create Facebook or Instagram profiles. Is this being pro-active in building their digital identity, or is this an issue? Sharenting is a hot topic, as is the potential of kids having the right to remove online content about them when they become adults. I think it could be fair for kids to remove things they did not post, but I think this becomes murky water when kids are allowed to remove “stupid” or hurtful things they may have posted themselves and just to use the excuse that they were young. The above linked article touches on this issue of “whitewashing” which I feel will become more relevant in the years to come if this legislation goes through.

What I do know, is that we need to teach kids to be mindful of what they are posting, to who, and how they are building their digital identity – and there is no time to wait for this to begin in schools. Students are spending more and more time online, and thus more and more of who they are, and who they are becoming as young adults, and ultimately people, is being influenced by the online world. For me, I started to build my digital identity as a young adult and educator, and my digital identity has grown to reflect who I truly am. For our students, their entire identity is growing and being shaped day by day in every interaction they make whether online or offline, and I am not so sure that is different anymore.

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One Response to “Will the real Katie Rosenkranz please stand up…”

  1. mrdavis9 March 7, 2018 at 12:13 am #

    I agree with you that your “digital identity” has now become who we are as a person. It is important to remember that our digital identity is no longer a separate person but is now part of our true self. In todays youth sometimes this is not taught until it is to late and students take on a different identity online then in real life and do not realize that your digital identity has the potential to follow you. Great post

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