Digital Identities in the 21st Century

Taken from Wikimedia Commons

Until recently I hadn’t considered my digital identity too much. I remember when I was an undergraduate in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina I had learned through Education Professional Studies courses how to be a professional educator. This meant I had to both ensure there weren’t any inappropriate photos taken of me at parties and make sure that they did not end up on social media.

via Giphy

In order to ensure appearances, I removed any photos that friends took of me from Facebook so that I could have more control over my digital identity. Since it has been a few years since I have been in a classroom, I haven’t reviewed my digital identity or considered it much at all.

I have not been a very active participant in social media for several years, rather, I have taken more of a passive approach to and have become a bit more of a voyeur. I recognize more and more that digital spaces can offer community and that I am technically part of several online communities. Since I do not participate, perhaps I am an ineffective community member and should reconsider my membership and be more intentional with my engagement.

Photo credit: Pixabay

In order to better understand the complexities of my digital identity I reviewed my profiles on a variety of social media platforms which include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. In order to evaluate my membership with these platforms I Google searched ‘digital identity’ to help give me some perspective of how to reflect on what I am sharing with the world. I found a blog post called, Digital Identity: The Key to Privacy and Security in the Digital World, by Irving Wladawsky-Berger helpful in shaping my understanding of a digital identity. Wladawsky-Berger asks and responds to the question,

“What is identity?  

Whether physical or digital in nature, identity is a collection of individual information or attributes that describe an entity and is used to determine the transactions in which the entity can rightfully participate.”

By looking at the information I share about my life and the attributes that are conveyed through my online presence I am better able to understand how I am using these platforms. It appears that my digital identity on is more professional because I use it more frequently for work or school and it is the location with which my professional learning network exists. I am connected to academics, writers, activists, theorists, educators, and non-profit organizations through Twitter, and less so with other social media platforms.

and are platforms where my digital identity is least developed. This is because these platforms are newer to me, but also because the volume of information I receive from them makes it easy to be only a voyeur and not an active participant.

is my longest running social media platform and has been used predominantly for social purposes. I have engaged in this community since 2007 and have chronologically shared moments in my life through photos and posts. This is both disturbing and interesting to reflect on as I don’t necessarily want to be remembered as the 22 year old who posted about what seem to be self-important or hyper-critical, as I did when I was younger. The story I tell about myself through Facebook is one that I will be more conscious of and will re-evaluate it to ensure it better reflects the person I am and hope to be.

Though I have not personally used social media as a tool for seeking employment, I have used it to find out more about an applicant when considering a new hire. Admittedly, I found it quite useful to be able to get to know the candidates before meeting them in person. Saying that, I was fairly surprised with the information presented by Lindy Olafson in her blog. She discusses the idea that in the future all students will have professional identities before leaving school. This concerns me because if this is true it seems like the digital divide may get larger, and if digital identities become the norm in hiring practices it will give younger generations an advantage in the job market. This has the potential to disadvantage a significant number of people who do not have connectivity or education in technology or social media.

I enjoyed reading Ashley Jamison’s blog where she discusses ways to develop your professional identity. I have some work to do in professionalizing and focusing my social media usage while developing my PLN as well, and I will work on this throughout this course.

Thanks for reading!