are you who you present online?

As millennials, we know that the internet and technology is complicated. In the early chapters of danah boyd’s novel, these complications are organized and spelled out for the reader to relate to. Privacy, addiction, and identity are only the beginning of these areas of concern for many; but all can be viewed in positive and negative lights.

During her chapter about creating an online identity, she writes about how individuals have many freedoms when it comes to each social medium but there are expectations as well. On page 49, boyd writes, “Impression management online and off is not just an individual act; it’s a social process”. After this she uses examples of teens from across the country to express many of her points. In the following paragraph, Matthew provided her with insight into how he believed he was maintaining a professional image online but his friends were not. I find this to be a common scenery between friends and managing a professional image. Despite Matthew’s individual efforts to keep his page viewer friendly, he can’t always control what his friends do with their pages. Through being associated with these friends, he could be risking the identity that he has been working towards.

As a teen, I was less concerned with my professional image online because I wasn’t preparing for the professional world. My parents always warned of that whatever is online will always be there and that still sticks in the back of my mind. I now am more conscious of what I post or what I am tagged in on Facebook.

A few pages later, boyd likens the world of the internet to “one heck of a cultural labyrinth” (53). This analogy creates an image of winding through this maze of unknowing what is going to be around the next turn. Online interactions can be this way, even for adults. One post can be appropriate to share according to one’s values but maybe not to your neighbor who is also viewing it. Identifying your audience is important when writing on paper but writing online can twists and turns depending on who the audience actually is versus who it was intended for. For me, hearing a piece of writing out loud has benefitted my understanding of the author’s intent. I found danah boyd reading the preface of It’s Complicated and in hearing her voice, I am now able to read her words with more understanding of her intent while writing.

Each scenario that boyd provides creates a simple image that most millennials can relate to. Just like Matthew, I try to maintain a profile that can be used for professional and social aspects of my life. I’m bet the following chapters are also going to provide areas of teen’s interactions that can be interpreted various ways by various people, while all being highly relatable.


Author: Mackenzie

With a mix of knowledge, I strive to compile English, psychology and advertising to enhance the digital world.

5 thoughts on “are you who you present online?”

  1. The link to boyd reading the preface of her book was a really good use of audio. It does help extremely to be able to hear the author read their own work in order to get a better understanding of their meaning.
    I too can relate to the struggle of keeping social media appropriate for friends, family, and potential employers. Social media is meant to interact with friends, but the unknowing presence of employers always makes me double think what goes on my various accounts


  2. Mackenzie, It was a good idea to try to find boyd reading her work—except I’m pretty sure that’s not her! I’ll post a video of her giving a Ted Talk in the class plan for tomorrow. ~Joe


  3. I like that you continually connected the text to yourself, because boyd was writing this for our generation. While people have often had to deal with the aftermath of their past, our generation (and the ones coming after us) are among those that have to deal with the permanence of the internet (where they’re words and images can be pulled and placed out of context). We have to justify the way we present ourselves and the people who we associate ourselves with. Its a lot of pressure and you discussed it very well.


  4. I think you bring up an interesting point when you mention Boyd’s intent. It may be easy to file this one under “an attempt to change the narrative about social media and teens,” but I think there is more to it. Or at the very least, I don’t think her intentions were to change any narrative. I think as a researcher, Boyd came into writing and researching this point to help lay out the landscape of teen’s social media use in an unbiased way. Her intent was to present the data, which could have very well been in stark contrast to her current findings.


  5. Just like you, I don’t see my social media account as a digital resume for possible employers. Although I try to keep my accounts clean and appropriate for my audience, I don’t expect my future employers to make their full opinions on me just based on my tweets or pictures. I am more than my digital identity.


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