Seminar Bridge Project 1
Int. Seminar 1
When we talk about online selves, it is important to recognize the distinction between the two different online selves that each person possesses. The first is one’s intentional online presence on various social media platforms and the websites that they interact with. This presence is often quite different from one’s true self as it exhibits only the parts of our life we choose to make public. Many people carefully curate this part of their online presence as they are acutely aware of its visibility. It is easy to get wrapped up into thinking that each person is exactly as they seem on social media, but this is almost never true and creates a sense of discontent for those who imagine that social media portrays an accurate depiction of life. It’s up to each individual how much of their privacy they give up on this platform depending on how much of their personal life they decide to share.
The second is one’s online presence in regards to what they look like as a statistic; what websites they visit, what searches they make and when, what their traceable movements on the web are. I believe that this online self is more revealing of who someone is, because it is far less thought out than the more observable presence on social media. People think less about what to search on the web than they think about their next Instagram post. We almost assume that we are invisible in this sense, and that the choices we make will make no effect on our real life. Social media makes an online presence feel more intertwined with the real world which makes the activity on this platform more deliberate and intentional. However, most people consider that their internet searches aren’t observed. Therefore, this online presence is much more raw and synced with a person’s inner thoughts and activities. This allows for each person to be more accurately targeted with advertisements and online marketing. The more invisible one feels on the internet, the more they allow their true thoughts and ideas to be seen.
Through exploring our visibility on the internet, we can see how little privacy we truly have. This begs the question: What is true privacy, and how can we maintain it in this era?
Privacy is generally considered time or content that someone has alone or shares with few people that they trust. It is the freedom to think and express freely without feeling like ones movements are tracked. By this definition, the modern person lacks any privacy at all. The more technology progresses, the more our thoughts can be tracked through online activity.
Because of how easy it is to track every move a person makes online, it is difficult to say how much of our true privacy we still have. Each online move we make is monitored either by people on social media or through marketing algorithms that use our information to sell us things. It leaves us wondering how realistic it really is to maintain privacy.
To me, the most private interactions are the intimacy between close friends and family. I know that the importance of these interactions lies in connections that can never truly be monitored, and I value time that is spent without any online or screen activity. That being said, I don’t claim to spend very much time at all without being on a screen. Even throughout the process of writing this essay, I’ve probably wasted at least an hour total refreshing social media pages more out of habit than anything else. I think of myself as someone who’s aware of the effects of internet media, yet I don’t think I’m even fully aware of how much of myself I give away to my screen. The most concerning piece of our rapidly evolving dependence on our screens is that the majority of people aren’t aware of how much they’re seen through the internet, and if they are aware they don’t really care. It doesn’t scare me as much as it probably should.
Now more than ever it is up to us to choose how much of a real self we maintain based on how aware they are of the visibility of our online footprint. It’s a matter of recognizing the visibility of our online profile and being aware of the image they build for ourselves out of their online activity. As a generation, our online selves and our real selves are as intertwined as ever. It is the norm to constantly give ourselves and our experiences over to our screens. Pulling away from this means taking a step away from what everyone around us is doing and reevaluating how much we are willing give away. As technology advances, our privacy will become more and more precious, and it will be increasingly important for us to be aware of our online presence and how much privacy we allow ourselves to have.