You can’t rush the evolution

Who am I online? What is my digital footprint?

Apparently, I don’t have a digital footprint.  I have a really common name, and when I google “Michele Smith”, I do not make an appearance, and I am ok with that.

Here is the first page of results

There are quite a few famous Michele Smiths who do appear on the first page of results: a softball pitcher, a politician, an Irish swimmer and an actor.

None of them me.

I am anonymous and incognito online.

  • I have an account on MFP under a pseudonym
  • My Garmin Connect account is private.
  • I do have a Facebook account, but I do not use it socially. I signed up last year because it was highly recommended that we do so for a couple of subjects in this course.
  • I have a Google + account that I use for uni purposes, not socially.
  • I have a twitter account (again, highly recommended by lecturers in this course), but don’t yet participate in the “Twitterverse”.

Who do I want to be online? My answers:

  • I don’t know yet how to represent myself as an information professional online
  • I’m not yet sure what I am ready to share
  • Can I just be a student for now, and have some more time to evolve into…something else?

It takes me a long time to consider and deliberate before I put something online.  This is my default position:

Caution Tape, Eugene Zemlyanskly, https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictureperfectpose/76138988; CC BY 2.0

Caution Tape, Eugene Zemlyanskly, https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictureperfectpose/76138988; CC BY 2.0

I think it is important to be conscious of a critical audience at all times; and realise that people will not necessarily interpret your comments in the way you intend them to be interpreted.

The written word cannot convey your tone or facial expressions (speech pathologists refer to this extra information as paralinguistics) and is extremely vulnerable to misinterpretation.  When we write, we speak in our heads at the same time, adding the intonation and emphasis, perhaps even the facial expressions; however when we post that comment, we strip away that extra layer that conveys so much meaning, and are left with just the words.  People will read it with their own intonation and emphasis, and it might not sound anything like the way you said it; hence leading to misinterpretation.

Emojis go some way towards remedying misinterpretations.  In her blog, Andrea Ayres discusses how people overestimate their ability to communicate clearly using email, and how beneficial emojis can be in adding the emotion back in.

I think because I am a speech pathologist, I cannot bear the thought of miscommunication, so I think I must attempt to embrace emojis if I am to have a successful time online (insert relevant emoji here).

Although I don’t seem to have many ideas about what I want to be online, I probably have more ideas about what I DON’T want to be online:

  • I don’t want to be someone with a personal brand. Shama Hyder’s Forbes article recommends that you start thinking of yourself as a brand, and lists “7 things you can do to build an awesome personal brand!”

Uhh…no thank you, that’s not how I want to represent myself online.  I associate personal brand with companies and business people; people who have something to sell.  I don’t want to sell anything, online or in real life.

  • Well, I guess that’s really only one idea.

Am I worried about how organisations use my information? 

The short answer is “No”.  But should I be? Maybe. If I could be bothered.

What are they going to do?  Try and sell me stuff? That’s ok.  Steal my credit card details? I can cancel my card.  Steal my identity? I would LOVE someone to go to work in place of me.

Perhaps my imagination is too small; but I can’t truly imagine that anyone would be that interested in me personally that I would need to worry about what they do with my information.  Although, clearly, Identity theft is a thing.

How will I present myself in this unit?

  • I have an idea that this unit will give me the opportunity to express my fledgling student identity in a protected, supportive environment.
  • I will engage in the play and reflect activities and learn all I can about emerging technologies
  • I will present myself honestly, and I will be respectful and supportive of others.
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4 comments

  1. Jo Gray · March 20, 2016

    Michele – this is a great post!! I can particularly relate to your comments around misinterpretations of written content. With friends, family, and colleagues I am known to have an extremely dry sense of humor but this gets me into a lot of trouble when I’m emailing or messaging. I did try emoji’s to battle this but I think I was probably choosing the wrong ones….

    Like

    • Michele Smith · March 20, 2016

      Thanks, Jo. Yes, I can see how you might have difficulty conveying that kind of humour in text. Which emoji is the sarcastic one? I think you do have to choose your emojis carefully, otherwise people can still misinterpret what you’ve written, and think you’re being passive aggressive. I read a couple of other blogs about that potential minefield, too. Have a look at this article about how people are interpreting text messages. http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/02/20/texting-brings-out-passive-aggressive-in-people.html

      Like

  2. Gerard Gabb · March 20, 2016

    Hi Michele,
    Great post! I do agree with you that when it comes down to how you present yourself online ,being aware of your online existence and defining how you will present yourself is very vital in dictating your personality online.

    Like

  3. kathleen · March 21, 2016

    Ah the vexed question of the personal brand. It does put a lot of people off straight away when you hear the phrase. And that’s part of the reason I like to introduce it 😉 It’s sometimes hard to remember that we are presenting ourselves to a critical audience online, and one way to do that is to make ourselves think about what people see in our ‘brand’ when they look at us. You will also notice my use of emoji in this comment, as I completely agree with the written vs spoken word ideas you raised!

    Like

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