Who are you?

As I read this week’s blog assignment I couldn’t help but remember the episode of How I met Your Mother in which Ted, after swearing to not Google his date, finds himself freaking out about what he doesn’t know only because she agreed that it was a good idea not to Google each other. However, as Ted was being his typical anxious self (for those who are not familiar with the program: his over-thinking is iconic) I couldn’t help but find that relatable. As much as we are taught about privacy online in school and through employability horror stories, nowadays having a presence online is normal. I don’t think it is either a good or a bad thing any more, it is just a thing. Considering that, I must confess that I find myself feeling frustrated and then alarmed if I can’t find somebody on Facebook or at least on Google. I start imagining all the horrible scenarios in which someone would find themselves so afraid of publicity that they exclude themselves from the online world to such an extent. Whilst I know that is a bit dramatic, I also think that being afraid to leave an online footprint is not an attractive character trait. Is it is so far fetched to assume that if one is afraid to take the risk that comes with exploring the online world, they might also be too afraid to explore the real one?

As for me, I do keep my privacy settings up because I don’t like inappropriate attention, but I don’t allow horror stories to deter me from the benefits of social networking sites.

I’m not calling you a coward if you’re not on Facebook. But I kind of am.

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Nowadays everyone is part of many various social networks. Facebook, instagram, snapchat, twitter and so on… Of course, I am not an exception. I remember back when facebook was only just created it was widely popular to post all of the information you could think of about yourself online. This was a way of getting more followers, friend requests and generally gaining popularity on social networks. But that was a trend a few years ago and now this trend has definitely passed. Users of online communities started posting much less information about themselves and a lot of profiles, on instagram, for example, are now private. Regarding myself, I don’t post any information about myself whatsoever. On my facebook page only the very basic information could be found as I really don’t see much point in revealing personal details, especially as anyone would be able to see it. On instagram my profile is private most of the time, however sometimes I open it to the public just for a subtle change once in a while. Of course, judging by instagram a lot could be said about a person’s interests and hobbies, without having to read or search for any additional information. Either way, online world of social media platforms is fun and enjoyable, but I believe it is still important to think through what content and information on yourself to post, as everything could be found on google at any point by anyone.

Settings –> PRIVACY!

I have a good story to tell about online visibility and invisibility. A friend of mine was studying in an important University in Italy and once graduated he was planning to go to the US to do an MBA. He spent his whole life planning this MBA, he desperately wanted to go there; he studied a lot, he did lots of internships and he hired a tutor to complete the application in the best possible way. Long story short, they didn’t accept him despite his amazing resumé and his excellent grades because they found him on Facebook and he had a picture with a joint in his hand. The “fun” part of the story  is that he doesn’t even smoke, it was just a joke.

party-girl_0.jpg

From that episode on I have always been scared of sharing my private life online, not because I have pictures of me wasted in a club or smoking weed but only because I believe that my private life should remain private. In each of my profiles as Instagram or Facebook everything is set up as private. I share my pictures and my information with my friends only and I don’t want strangers to be able to look into my life.

 

A Perfect Version of Ourselves

To measure my own online visibility, I decided that a good way to start would be by Googling myself. However I found the results to be slightly disappointing, due to the fact that it turns out I share a name with an actress and two influential psychologists. Therefore I found that the results leading to my own profiles were quite minimal, aside from a link to my Twitter account through my profile picture, which can be found under my Google Images results. My lack of traceable internet presence should probably come as more of relief than a disappointment, as I have friends who have found their addresses, and even photos of their past and present homes upon Googling themselves, a notion that I would find very unsettling.

However for those who have access to my social media accounts, through friendship on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (all of which are private) or any other social media site, nearly all of my information is open. All my photos, everywhere I’ve traveled recently, which city I live in, what music I like, where I got to school, my work history–all of this information is out in the open. Not only for my friends and family, but for people I’ve barely or never even talked, as I’m the kind of person who will add as a friend someone who just happens to be a familiar face on campus. But I’m okay with people I hardly know knowing all this, because all of this information is under my control. Our online selves are the person we want other people to see. We create a profile online which is a more perfect version of ourselves which we can broadcast to others, to network and boast of resumes on linked in, or to make our lives seem fun and exciting on Facebook. Googling myself might have been a little anti-climactic, but I’m glad that as far as I can tell, my online visibility is under my control.

#facebookuser

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Today, some of the top social networks that I am using are Instagram, Facebook and VK. On all of the above networks only on one of them I use my actual name. I believe that it is not necessary to share your real name on social media.

I am a facebook user, however only this year I started to use it more often in comparison to previous years. I do not share my address, contact details or relationship status information there, because sometimes it is necessary for me to accept friends request from people who I am not friends with. Before sending me a friend request the only information people can see on my profile is mutual friends, profile photos and some of my shared posts. I do not accept all of the friend request that I receive on Facebook and I also tend to filter my current friends.

I rarely ever post on Facebook, but if I do, my post are usually closed for my friends to view. However I still visit Facebook on daily bases to check messages and notifications that I receive.

What information do you share and does defer depending on the social network you are using?

Cinderella should Google herself and Prince Charming!

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Did you ever Google yourself before this assignment? Because I did. In the last 3 or 4 years a lot has changed regarding what comes up when I search for my name online. When I was in middle school and even in high school the things that came up were the school I have attended and the teachers that I have along with some of my grades and the results of my final exams in the 8th grade. After those, there was a web page from my high school that said that I was in the student council representing my class. A few pages in, my Facebook page would appear even though I use a slightly modified first name.

Now, when I have Googled myself, the first thing that came up was my London address, my results from high school, my account on Academia and after that my Facebook page. A few pages in, Facebook is still the only social media that comes up out of 10 or more that I have. I still use a slightly modified first name because that is how everyone calls me. Even though my Facebook profile comes up, people can’t see anything that I post. The reason why my social media is so hidden and secure is because I am really, really good at finding out information about other people online. Some of my friends will come to me and ask to search for someone and find out where they work, live or how much they earn. In the past few years I have mastered online “stalking” and I am aware how much information people give away. That is why when I turned 18 (I always had my real age on every social media) and all of the platforms offered me the chance to change my privacy settings and make everything public or more public than they were, I did not change a thing. Only my friends can see what I post and where I go and I always keep track of my social media image.

I guess Googling people all the time has its advantages, right?

Online command.

cr: Donkey Hotey

Because I have been on social media for so long, ever since I was 12 years old, I believe that I have made a lot of mistakes along the way and that now that I am 19, I am trying to become more self-aware and restrictive with the information I share online. My first social platform was ‘Netlog’ (now ‘Twoo’) I mostly got an account because my bigger sister had one and I wanted it as well, because that is what young siblings do. After that I got into fan sites of various bands but this time I did not use my name or any real information, and I stuck with this for all websites I do not use for actual socialising now such as ‘Tumblr’, ‘Twitter’ (even though I should create a professional account soon) etc.

As a media and communication student, I started analyzing my behavior online much more and I realized that I have never been actually active on them, I only have a few pictures of Facebook, no vital information, everything is hidden from the public, but obviously with a little access to the database you can see it anyway.

If you search me on google only one picture will come up, my ‘Facebook’ profile, my blog, my posts for this blog, ‘Pinterest’ (it uses my real identity because I made the account through ‘Google +’), ‘Academia’ and my results for the Baccalaureate. Which is quite a lot, but nothing compared with a friend that found out that half of her life is on ‘Google’, creepy isn’t it?