One of my most cherished values is authenticity. I strive to be authentic in my interactions and in how I present myself. This doesn’t mean I’m rude or mean just because I feel like it; for me authenticity has to be balanced with tact and social acumen, but being my true self even when that may be unpopular is important to me and something that I have worked toward throughout my life. I know everyone is different, but I feel like for me, most of my teens and even early twenties were spent trying to be someone. Sometimes it was someone I thought others wanted me to be and sometimes it was someone I wanted to be but it wasn’t usually just being me, who I was in that moment in time. One of the things I am proudest of as I’ve gotten older is figuring out who I am, embracing that person and presenting her to the public. So how does that jive with the idea of one’s “digital identity”? I think one of the challenges is that, at least as an individual who has a relatively small/inactive digital identity, every digital interaction is a very small, incomplete snapshot of who I am or what I’m thinking. IRL or in a digital interaction with someone I know IRL, a single interaction is part of the bigger picture of my identity vis a vi another individual. As an example, when I post a link to an article about Anne of Green Gables or a video about some novelty candy to a friend’s facebook, they experience that in the context of what they know about me in my totality as an individual. Yes, a big Anne fan but also someone who enjoys Agatha Christie, Hanya Yanagihara and trashy television. Or a girl who enjoys her raspberry mocha m&ms (sort of) but ate a salad for lunch with ingredients from her CSA and also enjoys scallops when out to eat (or fish buttons as my husband aptly calls them). I am hesitant to interact with people digitally who I don’t know IRL because I feel as if they are missing the bigger context of who I am. I guess I feel like it’s hard to represent oneself authentically in a brief digital interaction unless it’s of the most mundane nature. Yes, I would like to purchase your baby moccasins is ok but “person I just met online let me indicate that I think your GIF is humorous and indicate that I do get the joke” is much trickier. I find that emoji help to an extent but I frequently write several sentences where the average person would use a word or two in order to make sure that my meaning (and me) are correctly understood and identified. So my question, how do I manage my desire for authenticity in brief digital interactions and not let it keep me from engaging in them?