While the online environment can blur or compromise your authentic identity, it can also be leveraged to broaden your representation of yourself. Social networks, personal blogs, e-portfolios and profiles provide opportunities for self-expression, connecting and collaborating in ways that can’t be achieved in face-to-face environments.
First, read this quick blog post on Why You Should Google Yourself Regularly (and What to Do About What You Find). It provides valuable information for anyone looking to research what is online about you, your life, your connections, and your affiliations. Then complete the following exercise.
Search your name in Google. If you have a very common name you might want to try adding your location (e.g. John Smith Albany NY)
- Write a biography for your researched online persona (from the perspective of someone who is trying to learn more about you). Alternatively, you might ask a classmate who doesn’t know you very well to see what they can learn about your from a Google search, but make sure to document what they come up with in your submitted response.
- Write a brief (1-2 paragraphs) reflection on your findings. Does this information reflect how you wish to be “seen” on the Internet? Why or why not? How does personal information reflect what someone might glean about your life? Is that accurate? Does it matter?
Now that you have examined issues connected to your online presence, you will be better informed in the decisions that you make going forward. You may also want to share what you have learned with your friends, who may not have thought so much about these issues. They will thank you!