The DOOO readings for week two raised issues of how we present and understand our digital selves, and encourage us to think about how our digital selves are created and controlled.
Baym & Boyd use Mead and Cooley and the “Looking Glass Self” as a way to get us thinking about our mediated selves. The idea that we develop a sense of self out of interaction with others is something very familiar to me – in fact, I use an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to help teach about this idea. The episode suggests that when students and teacher ignore a young woman, when they do not respond to her attempts at interaction, not just her sense of self is affected – she actually disappears. I’m not sure I believe in a literal interpretation of the Buffyverse, but it certainly complements a view that social views, interactions and cues create real meanings for us. (In other words, reality is socially constructed: I’m a sociologist, ok?)
To apply this to my own world, my own digital self takes me a few more steps. It is clear that my digital self is not the same (TO ME) as my physical self. Those I interact with only digitally have a partial sense of me, not the holistic sense that those who live with me share. But that is true of many (all?) of our relationships in our “modern” world right? (Nodding here to Durkheim and to Wirth.) But though my students see me differently than the folks I know from the gym – I have a significant element of control over those interactions. I control what I post on facebook – or here. But I don’t control what others may post about me (nodding here at ratemyprofessor – but without linking to it. I don’t need to encourage them, or accidentally view my own ratings.). Rather than putting my head in the sand about this, I am beginning to think through how and when and where I am willing to try to wrest control and ownership of my digital presence back from others.
*btw, Ryan, I still can’t tell when I’m passing by reference or by value. I’m embedding some links – but for Wirth, I have the pdf. Would that be better? And if so, is that value? Heavens.