Social Media-My Take

So here is my approach to social media.  I hesitate to call it a policy--that's too official and a philosophy is probably true but since I feel my approach to social media is continually in the making, "philosophy" probably won't do either.  Herein I recognize how I try to approach and engage with social media and the development of my own digital identity.

In Amber Case's TED Talk, "We are all cyborgs now," she points out that we have both a physical self and increasing a digital self--maintained through avatars, profiles, and other forms of digital presence.  Because of this, we must spend time reconciling the two selves.  Or that is, we are trying to do this--though not always consciously.  Balancing selves is not new by any means:  celebrities, politicians, and even servants or slaves participated in this ongoing reconstruction and re-presentation of self.  But digital identity is a bit different.  I believe that we should increasingly expect it to resonate with the actual person.  I want my online identity and my physical identity to sync.  Culturally, we seem to expect this and hence when we "Google" someone, be it for a job, a date, or just to find out more about someone, we anticipate this to tell us a bit about the physical person.  Whether we should or not is a good question to consider since as Lori Andrews, author of I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy explains, what we see of someone online is entirely lacking context in most cases and not necessarily a good indicator of who the person is.  For me, my goal is to be the person I am online as I would be face to face.

So for me, much of my work in digital culture leads me to want to authentically represent myself and reconcile my digital and physical identity.  But I realize my physical self is not a static being but one in continual development.  Therefore, my digital self must also be in perpetual development.

What all this means for my blog, and my various digital identities (LinkedIn, Twitter, Academia.Edu, Facebook, Google+, etc)?  It means that I use all of them as means of understanding, engaging and learning from the world around me through dialogue and interaction.  But all meaningful interactions require some degree of trust.  A willingness to hear what others say and a willingness to speak honestly.  These are things that we as a culture value but are not always great at executing.  However, this is my central focus and approach with social media.  I'm not looking to change minds, prove truths, etc, but connect and learn (have my mind changed or at least influenced) by those who wish to connect and engage with me.  

However, because this is an act of reconciling my physical and digital self, it means that I will inevitably get into discussions and debates on a variety of topics that I care deeply about.  And while my purpose is not to "win"--whatever that means, my purpose is often to provide an alternative view or approach than that which I encounter.  My reason for doing so is that if I see something that I disagree with or find problematic, I want to call attention to it.  I do it with hopes that the person I'm engaging with may find it useful but more so for those who find it problematic but don't necessarily have the ability to articulate it clearly or feel jeopardized to do so.  In this way, I engage to let others know who might be vulnerable that they are not alone or that there are others who may see things similarly.  

Given the nature of the 2016 election and the role that social media had in its execution, I think it's important to continue to dialogue and the speak up on social media.  It can be hard, frustrating, and sometimes feel like people are just intentionally gaslighting one another.  My hopes is that I can more positively contribute to conversations while also learn and understand more from others who provide different and unique views.