Is There Such a Thing as an Honest Digital Identity?

Over the last month or so since I have began posting on my blog again, I have been thinking about my digital identity. What is a digital identity? There is an awesome blog post called Digital Identities and Digital Security that describes digital identity simply – it is who we are online. This begs the questions:

Can we be the same person online and in the “real” world?

The online world allows us to control how we want to be perceived by others and by the public. This basically allows us to portray certain aspects of ourselves, while maybe “hiding” other things we don’t want others to know. This makes me ask another question of myself:

What and how do we choose what we want others to see about ourselves?

I was asked to read an article this week on how the resume is slowly fading out, and how creating digital portfolios and digital footprints are beginning to become more prevalent. There was a quote in there that relates to my last question – “social media gives [us] a chance to show “what you want the world to know about you.””

So again I ask, what do I want the world to know about me? What is important to me? Some of the things I have decided that are the most important about me follows:

– I am a Christian – this is my identity, in every area of my life

– I love travel – there is nothing better to me than exploring new places, meeting new people and learning about myself

– I love children – all children, whether in my future classroom or otherwise, they have such a genuine love for life and a hunger to learn

– I love my family – my family lives on an acreage outside of Melfort, SK; they are the most incredible people and I am thankful for all the opportunities they have provided for me

These are only some of the more general things that I think are an important part of my digital identity. These are the things that shape my choices and the kinds of things I share and am passionate about.

Another article called Teachers, Take Care of Your Digital Footprint makes an honest and real statement, “If you aren’t controlling who you are online, someone else will.” I don’t want anyone else creating my digital identity. It’s my identity to create. I intend to make it an honest identity. I’d like to believe that it’s possible to be transparent online in a positive way and give others a window into what makes you tick, what you’re passionate about, and who are you are.

That is not to say that anyone, especially those in professional careers that deal with the public, such as teaching, should post every detail about themselves online. There is such a thing as oversharing and being insensitive and careless in posting online. I aim to avoid that and to think before I post. I am not really a writer, and I pride myself in thinking before I speak. So blogging I find that I combine the two. I take my time in my writing. Thinking before I post I guess you could say. In the last article I mentioned, they break down managing your digital identity into 4 easy steps:

– Google yourself (here’s what what happened when I googled myself – I also had to add “Regina” at the end as my name is rather common)

Screen shot 2016-02-07 at 2.38.50 PM

My “about me” page and my twitter handle came up – good news! Since there are a ton of Ashley Arndt’s on facebook my profile did not come up. The only thing missing now is by blog. But overall, I’m pleased with it at the moment.

– Establish a brand

– Get a space of your own

– Stay on top of things

After all my ramblings, I’d like to ask the question in the title of this post again: is there such a thing as an honest digital identity? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


10 thoughts on “Is There Such a Thing as an Honest Digital Identity?

  1. lothianmatthew

    First off, great post! It really got me thinking about my digital identity and how I am perceived on what people can find when they Google my name. To answer your question, “is there such a thing as an honest digital identity?”, I believe that to truly know what a person is like and to know who they are is to meet them in person. People can easily portray a false representation of themselves online, or people could perceive others incorrectly by what Google can find on a search result . For people to truly know who I am I would want them to meet me face-to-face to get to know me before they make a preconceived notion of who I am. I think its almost impossible to have a complete “honest” or “100% accurate” identity of a person online, to truly know who they are. I try to represent myself as truthfully and positively as I can online but if people want to judge me before they meet me I can’t help that, people can think what they want about me. This reminds of my favorite scene from the movie “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” with John Candy and Steve Martin, “I’m the real article”…

    1. Thanks! The more I think about the more I think you are right – for people to truly know who you are I think they have to meet you in person. But then I begin to think about the fact that my online identity will probably be a lot of people’s “first impression” of me, and I hate first impressions! Do you think a digital “first impression” is as important as a real life first impression?

  2. Ashely, your blog post really spoke to ma and got me thinking… I have never “googled” myself. As I googled myself I found out how common my name really is, my Facebook and Twitter were among the first few things that popped up. But as I scrolled down the page I seen something that I would really not like my name to be associated with. But I also have to remember that my name belongs to other people, and what ever they do with their life has no connection to me. As I keep thinking about it, I can only hope that if my future employers “Google” me, that they will only look at the true and positive social media accounts that I have created!

    1. You are so right! I also found way different things when I google just my name, my name and Regina, and my name and my hometown of Melfort. I even got my cross country results from back in 2005! It’s crazy what is out there and what you can find, but you’re right in the fact there are some things you don’t want to be associated with but have no choice!

  3. A well written and thought provoking post Ashley. I recently went through the same process of Googling myself to see what exactly shows up. I would agree that we have to be aware of what our digital identity looks like by continually creating “who” we want to be online. The problem is that we have no control over what others post online. So to answer your question, “is there such a thing as an honest digital identity” I think our digital identity is only a reflection of who we are. Our online identity should illustrate our values and beliefs,and paint a picture of who we are. However, I do not think you actually truly know a person until you meet them in person and are able to form a logical opinion based on the way they represent themselves on a daily basis. An online identity may not always represent who they are in real life.

    1. I agree! Though I want to paint an accurate a truthful description of who I am online, I also don’t want people to base their perception of me solely on my digital identity as there is much more to me than that! I think that awareness to is key that everything we read online must be taken with a grain of salt. We don’t want others to make assumptions of us based on digital identity, and we shouldn’t make assumptions about others either. Good thoughts Ryan!

  4. I really enjoyed your post, Ashley. I especially liked when you brought up the question: “What and how do we choose what we want others to see about ourselves?” I kind of feel like a fake on social media sometimes. My Twitter is generally used for professional content related to education, my Instagram is used for pictures of me and my friends that I like to keep more private, and my Facebook keeps friends and family updated on my personal life. I feel like if someone were to only look at one portion of my social media digital identity, they would only be seeing a portion of what makes up my identity. Do you find that you use different forms of social media for different reasons? Do you ever feel like your followers or friends aren’t getting a true picture of your personality depending on the social media they are viewing you on?

    1. Great post Ashley! I believe that our digital identities can be faked within reason. I believe that someone can hide behind the various privacy settings. I have similar thoughts as Ashton as she says Twitter is professional and Facebook is private. But I feel as that is how we are in the non-tech world. Unless I am alone, I don’t interact with all people the same. People can act professional, and more casual with different groups of people. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    2. That’s such a good way to look at it! I for sure use different forms of social media for different reasons. And I know that my followers on twitter probably aren’t getting the same picture of me as my friends on facebook or instagram. Neither picture of my personality is “bad” or “good” but they are different. I guess I’m wondering if it is possible (or professional?) to have all aspects of my life portrayed equally in one setting?

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