IMAGE: TONY MOIR/SOLENT NEWS/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

This past Monday, I created a Twitter account…..wow, it is something! I feel like an intrepid explorer with my mouse and my keypad browsing through the good, the bad, the interesting, and the unabashedly ugly.  

Connecting

This exploration into uncharted territories has sparked many conversations with friends, coworkers, and my supervisor about social media, networking, digital identity, etc. One conversation in particular, served as a great precursor to Katia Hildebrandt’s writing, “(Digital) Identity in a World that No Longer Forgets.” We were talking about mistakes, forgiveness, the ability to grow as an individual, and how the internet/its audience seems to only focus on one of these: mistakes. When we look at this week’s theme, networks, along with the idea of making mistakes online – how might that impact resonate on and off-line? Will our networks, our audience grant forgiveness and give room for us to grow as individuals or will they partake in “cybervigilantism?”

Hildebrandt perfectly described my own worry that, “our every digital act might someday be scrutinized by someone, somewhere, the scope of what we can ‘safely’ discuss online is incredibly narrow and limited to the mainstream and inoffensive.” I do not believe that most companies, especially social media platforms, are naturally ethically or morally responsible. They will not, without pressure or demand, construct or facilitate environments that foster compassion and grace.  

Aside from my newly formed Twitter account and an old LindedIn profile, I do not formally interact in many online networks. #DigPINS has thrown me into more forums at once than I think I have ever had. It has been interesting.

Questioning

Entering this learning community, I expected that I would learn more about the value of having an online presence and curating a digital identity (which I believe I have) but I also expected that participating would kick off my desire to be more connected/digitally “present.” I cannot say it has done the latter. If anything, I am questioning the value in working to curate a digital identity beyond this project. I think it can be immensely valuable for many professionals. However, I do not know what I as an individual need a large online presence. On the other hand, the opportunity for an office or department presence is still worth considering. 

Despite my questioning, I am savoring the conversations sparked in and out of #DigPINS, and deeply appreciate the work everyone in this learning community has put into creating this experience.  

2 Thoughts to “Uncharted Territory”

  1. Katie G

    Thank you for your post, Avery!

    I have had a similar reaction in our first two weeks of DigPINS. Contrary to what I thought would happen, I am now developing more of an aversion to social media!

    Thank you again for sharing, Avery. I’ll see you on Twitter!

  2. autumm

    Grrr – There was a blip with my connection and my first comment got lost so this is a second go – I wanted to preface this in case that comment does show up somehow…

    I just wanted to thank you for this thoughtful response Avery. DigPINS is not about advocating for social media or technology or digital identities for individuals. As a learning community we are not trying to hit outcomes so much as critically discuss topics and let folks draw the personal conclusions that work for them. Though you are not getting the experience that you’d expected it does sound like your thoughts on these matters are growing so I do hope that is valuable for you.

    I hope that you take some time to look at the suggested folks to network with for this week. Many of them take a very critical look at digital technology and social media on their blogs and on twitter. The paradox is of course that they do this through digital identity and networks. They contribute to a larger conversation that is pushing back against those techno-utopian narratives that I think also bother you. These voices are so important when that silicon valley rhetoric (tech is wonderful, you need your personal brand, connect as much as possible, share as much as possible, etc.) is pervasive and backed by lots of money. We need more voices like yours.

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