The question of digital identity as a separate self or identical to my “real self” was the most intriguing one to me from the list of questions posed for the week 3 twitter chat.
I have struggled somewhat with the difference between my digital and real selves. For faculty, there are inevitable questions about Facebook (should you be Facebook friends with students?) and Twitter (is what I’m tweeting “acceptable” or “professional”?).
My twitter feed, for example, is at the moment a collection of comments from professors (my professional identity), DC food trucks (a personal interest), priests (my Episcopalian identity), politicos (I follow my two Senators’ posts), and my university. Which followers care about which topics? Should I have separate twitter feeds for the professional and the personal? Or, do I present myself as the person I am with varied interests both professional and personal?
I think the question is not whether the digital self is the same as the real self, but rather how many digital “selves” do we have? I maintain a professional web page where you could learn about my professional life, but I wouldn’t say this encapsulates my whole self.
It’s a matter of representation in the end. Any representation is a limited perspective on the phenomenon (or person) it is trying to represent. It highlights some things and masks others. The line on the graph tells you some things, the equation gives other information. No digital self is the complete whole of the person just as we as people present different facets of our lives in different situations/contexts/settings – digital or otherwise.