Who do I want to be online? What does my avatar look like? Both of these are interesting questions, but there is an order in which they should be answered. Before I talk about who I would like to be online, I first think I should talk about who I am online, what my “avatar” looks like. In this situation, the term “avatar” isn’t referring to blue aliens or a child with an arrow on his head, but instead is referring to my online identity.
What does my avatar look like?
My online avatar can be divided into two categories, the first my visible identity, like my social media accounts, with my name and my face on them, and the second being my invisible (at least to the public) identity. This invisible identity contains much more information, and resides in the realm of browsing habits and data, but I won’t dwell on it, as it is of little interest to people other than advertisers. My visible identity is slightly outdated, as my use of social media is infrequent at best. I haven’t made my own tweet since 2015 (not counting re-tweets), I haven’t updated my Facebook since 2016, and I haven’t made an Instagram post since 2016. Before this week, my Twitter profile picture had remained unchanged since I created it in 2012, and my Instagram profile picture was last changed my senior year of high school. I updated those two pictures as I knew I would be linking to them in my history with social media post, and I thought it best to change that extremely outdated info. However, while it may be a bit dated, the information on them is still accurate, as not much in my life has changed since I updated my information on social media. To bring it back to the original question, what does my avatar look like? Well, it looks like me. It is certainly not as nuanced as the real me, but it is still representative of me.
Who do I want to be online?
Now on to the second question. Who do I want to be online? This is a more complicated question, and I’m not sure I can fully answer it. Online is a very wide category, and in order to explore this subject I think it should be broken down further. Online could mean many things, as many are there are websites and services I can create an account on and interact with others on. Does it mean who I want to be on Xbox Live? On an Amazon reviews page? On Facebook? On GitHub? If we talk about online as on the internet in general, in today’s world of data gathering and online tracking by governments and businesses, I would prefer to be mostly anonymous, with only what I want to be known and shared being shared. However, I have a Facebook account, and I am deep into the Google ecosystem, so much of my data is already out there. Now, I could go on about this subject for a long time, but I am going to refrain from chasing the rabbit trail of the subject of internet privacy, as it is not the point of this post, and I doubt anyone comes here to read my rants on random subjects. So, let’s narrow it down, and go to the obvious category, social media. Who do I want to be on social media? This is going to sound a bit disappointing after going off towards all these other points before finally coming back to this, only for me to say I don’t know. But I don’t. To be honest I am not the biggest fan of social media. I think that it can be an immensely powerful tool, and used for good, but it is not used that way the vast majority of the time. Because of its immense power, reach, and how long-lasting posts you make can be, I am careful about what I do and say on social media. In today’s online age, one stupid post can come back and bite you long after you create it. I would prefer that some innocent post that I make that seems like nothing to me at the time have a negative effect on my future self, like not getting a job because of my social media, so I remain cautious with my online presence.