One of my loosely formed goals when I decided to apply for #DigPINS was to explore the evolution of our digital identity as our understanding of the Internet has evolved. How do we continue to curate our presence? As Pasquini states, “We can no longer use the expression ‘in real life’ or IRL, as your online self is your real, off-line self. In addition, how we behave inside the screen, on the web and in our networks has real-life implications for our selves outside a device, platform or digital space.”
This is very interesting to me because I can remember a time when there was a clear distinction between our online selves and our IRL selves, especially in the early days of Facebook and Twitter. I still find myself wanting to take to the Internet with thoughts or opinions I wouldn’t necessarily express IRL. As a result, I am very interested in thinking about– as Stewart asks, “who are you talking to?” when you sit down in front of a screen or swipe up on your phone. And as we think about the spaces we hope to curate or contribute to, I’m becoming increasingly interested (given our current moment of #MeToo) to apply critical whiteness theory to my understanding of digital identity. Critical whiteness theory is meant to reveal the invisible structures that produce and reproduce white supremacy and privilege. Even though women and people of color use the Internet to share their stories, the Internet is still a place where people can be silenced. The Internet is not a guaranteed safe space for women and people of color, just like IRL spaces can become unsafe. How do women and people of color curate safe spaces or respond to unsafe spaces? Is the only option to leave said spaces, as many are doing?
Furthermore, I was thinking during the visitor/resident discussion how our digital identity is being tracked and we’re always leaving a trace, even if we’re not engaging. What are those implications for our digital identity? How does that affect the way we cultivate our presence online and engage with others? The communities we enter? What is the role of consent in our online spaces? In terms of IRL harassment and violence, it’s not the dark alleys that are the most dangerous, it’s often the places and people you know and trust, it’s the places you frequent, that can become unsafe(est). These are a few of the things I’m interested in exploring during #DigPINS.