Controlling our Digital Presence and Identity

It was very easy for me to review all my social media accounts and determine what my digital presence and identity is. The fact is that I only have a couple: Facebook and Twitter. Although Facebook is my most prominent of the two, I do have a small digital presence on Twitter. I would say what I don’t post on Facebook tell more about me than what I do post. By that, I mean that I rarely post.  So for me, it’s more about creating a digital identity that I would want to be known for.

But the fact, it is easy to forget that what we post online can remain online even if we delete it and this can potentially hurt our career and relationships. Anything we choose to upload, tweet, reblog, favorite, “like”, can be endless and very hard to erase. Whether our information is shared intentionally or unintentionally, our digital footprint is being gathered by various companies and employers and often used to obtain personal information about us. According to Cohen and Kenny “from the moment you turned on your first computer and double-clicked on the icon for the web browser of your choice, you have created an abundance of personal information, available through search engines such as Google or Yahoo!” (207). That is why it is far better to be in control of our digital identity than to allow something to take control. But whether we are branding, as in my case, or re-branding, it is important to be aware of the information that is out there about us. Even if we didn’t post the information, it may be attached to someone else’s post.

But how do we control our digital identity? Understanding the significance of our digital footprint is an important step in protecting our online identity. Cohen and Kenny (pp. 205-206) ask readers to consider what their online identity is and then take charge of it. To answer this question takes some thought, not because it is a hard question but because it is an important one and starts with knowing what we do everyday that is recorded. That doesn’t mean that we should be afraid to go online and visit sites. The best thing to do is not to stay offline but to be conscious of what we post.

The best way to control our digital identity is by deciding what communities we want to be a part of and what content we want to post. We should also decide what social media profiles we want to use such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Also important is to use positive aspects to help create our personal branding for example, a personal blog can highlight our strengths and personality. Finally, we should realize that controlling our digital presence and identity is long-term challenge that requires dedication and persistence.

The Online Jodieann

Creating a online brand is almost like putting on a Halloween costume and becoming the person you’ve always aspired to be. Online sites afford many individuals a chance to escape their drab life and become their alter ego or a exaggerated person. This may be true for most people and myself as well. I am on several social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, OkCupid. With each social media sites there is a certain type of image one must uphold to be able to engage within that community. I portray myself online as a very well-put together individual who engages in thoughtful discussions regarding politics, current events, quotes, fun things that happen in my life aka shareable moments, rants, etc. My positioning online gives the impression, which is true, of a progressive, fashionable, savvy, and holistic thinker who likes coffee and inspirational quotes. In many ways I am proud of my digital story telling ability because I know I could represent various brands successfully and I will uphold the image of the brand. Also, I have started a lovely series which I call the Daily Takeaway, each day I write 3-5 inspirational quote or takeaway and use the hashtag #DayNumberoftheDay. It’s been pretty cool, I hope to look back 365 from now and have a transformative outlook on my growth as an individual. I’m not quite sure why I started the series but I love doing it.

Does your online identity convey to the audience your future goals and ambitions?

My online personality perfectly explain who I am and who I want and will become. I do a very good job of creating my personal online brand. I have realized that it is what you physically put online that gives people a certain impression of you. In a way you have to create the ideal persona that you want to sell to people— its sort of genius. I do think people realize that I am genuine online as I am in person.

Does it tell the audience what you do for a living or hope to do for a career?

Yes, in my blurb section I give a nod to my profession as a writer. If someone was to stalk my Twitter timeline and come across posts from 11 months ago they would find links to press release that I wrote on CUNY Newswire. I am very much professional online but I know that my idea of professional and someone else’s interpretation are very different.

What assumptions would someone make about your personality?

The “Online” Jodieann is just as lovely as she is in person. My online persona is the girl you could imagine sitting with in a coffee shop, engaging in conversations of all sorts. The persona is relatable in many ways, the candor, the wit, the easy going personality, the professionalism, graciousness. My online persona embodies all my real life traits online very pleasantly. One of the key takeaways I hope my persona conveys most of all is that Jodieann is an intelligent young woman with a strong voice and a clear mission of achieving all her goals.

My Nonexistent Social Media Identity

Upon viewing my Facebook profile, the first thing I noticed was that Facebook suggested I update my cover photo, add a short bio, edit info already visible to others, and add featured photos. In three words, I can describe my online identity as inactive, uninteractive, and quiet. Unlike users who share on their social media sites that they participate in, I barely share or interact with others on my Facebook page at all. The last thing I did on my page was update my profile picture which was August 10, 2015.

I cannot call myself a tech savvy user no more than I can call myself a savvy user of my social media account because according to Cohen and Kenny,  “a savvy user of digital media does not consume media, but participates in all of the media tools offered” (200). I see myself as a user behind the screen watching everyone else interact with each other, while I  lack the practice of sharing content for my audience to interact with. Since creating my Facebook account in 2008, I have yet to update the “about” section where people should be able to get a sense of my personality, career goals, and interests. If anyone was to see my profile today, they would think I currently work at Forever 21 which I currently no longer work for the company and that I graduated from high school and did not go on to continue college.

My Facebook page is limited to my friends only, all others outside of my realm of friends cannot view the contents if my page. Essentially, my Facebook page is a way to keep up with my family back home in Nigeria as well as keeping me updated through their page.  Other than that, my account is not utilized to its full potential and I definitely need to make some changes. I also have a Pinterest account that I use slightly more than my Facebook account, however, I can definitely work more obvious profile content. Opening my personal page and skimming through my board anyone can see that I love nail polish, I am a woman of God, I have natural hair, and I live fashion. My boards depict what I take interest in but my “about” section is completely blank. After reading Cohen and Kenny, I am interested in branding myself and revamping my accounts so people who view my page can get a sense of who I am. That may also mean, adding additional social media platforms to better brand or represent myself for the near future.

To Delete or Not to Delete?

It never occurs to us that what we post online sort of remains there…forever? Seems quite dramatic to say that but it is actually not. The age of the internet so to speak has enabled us to recreate ourselves or in other words represent ourselves in the way we want to be seen. When we create an online profile we create a depiction on how we want to be seen: we primp, polish, include, and exclude things about ourselves to coin the identity we want to exude. We brand ourselves in this act. We create a persona or identity so to speak and do all we can to uphold that identity but what we engage or participate in, and these things that we do are always present and will remain a part of ourselves as trace.

Now, in understanding of the internet all that we create, share, and participate online has all contributed to the building of the internet itself. The conversations, both controversial and  agreement has led to the building of communities. Now as I said before, what we post online remains forever. These brands of who we are remain.  “In theory, the right to be forgotten addresses an urgent problem in the digital age: it is very hard to escape your past on the Internet now that every photo, status update, and tweet lives forever in the cloud” (88, Rosen). Over the years people have been against this ‘ploy’ of the internet. It seems as though the only people who have this objection to the duration or longevity of a post are those who post something ridiculously embarrassing or controversial and after realize the effects it causes on either employment or their ‘identity’ so to speak.  People have brought to the table the idea that whatever is posted should have the ability to be deleted…forever.

The golden rule of the internet has and will always be, “if you do not want something seen do not post it”. A simple rule to follow, but however in this day in age everyone feels the need to generate conversation, participate online, and share, share, share! My point is that if there is a right to delete and by delete I mean to erase all trace, meaning all screenshots, shared, and bookmarks of that said image or video then there should be an understanding as to what uploading actually entails. When you post you are explicitly giving permission for people to share, ridicule, or praise. Now that post goes on to create conversation and users and composers go onto create new ideas from that said post. What we contribute to the internet has continued to create more content and stimulate the minds of others. If things had the right to be erased then all that surround them, incorporate them, justify them, and raise because of them would then too be erased. What we post has not only contributed to the branding of who we say to be but also the branding of others and the ideas of others.

As in Cohen and Kenny’s, “The Online Personal Brand” analyzes and synthesizes the ideas that inherently work together in order to create an identity. When I looked upon the social medias I had I realized that I had posted only what I wanted people to see. There were no embarrassing photos. I was polished. I represented myself in the best filter possible. The choice to share only certain things was both a constraint and affordance for me; it also created the opportunity for me to brand myself in such a way that either encourages curiosity or discourages it. The fact of the matter is that this all stems from a legal issue. Defamation of ones character as mentioned in the Carroll chapter is one of the underlining reasons as to why the issue for deletion of online publications has arisen. As we can agree certain issues arise when we post things but the question is under what guidelines or stipulations is it deletion necessary? Is it ever necessary to delete and if we ever delete what does this mean for the internet? Will the internet have less viable sources or ideas in circulation? Does the right to delete create more problems than it solves? 

Response 10- Digital presence and identity

Cohen &Kenny (Page 205/06)

For this exercise I looked through my two most used social media sites, Twitter and Facebook. My facebook is completely private only friends are able to view my posts, twitter however is an open door it is totally public. I also used timehop, which is an app that shows you what you posted years back on this date, so one, two or even as far as six years back can be viewed (presuming you’ve had the account that long). I will also add that upon preparing from graduation from my Alma matter my adviser suggested that I clean up my media presence and make a professional accounts and recreational ones. So I did just that, making a twitter handle and facebook page which i could share on my linkedin (I did not make a “professional” instagram I just cleaned up my current one) and then keeping my recreational ones private and free of my real name and email address. For this exercise I will be analyzing the social media pages I created to “brand” myself as an emerging professional.

Does your online identity convey to the audience your future goals and ambitions?

My twitter handle @pezz718 does in some ways convey my goals and ambitions, if you click the link you can see my bio lists that I am a tax preparer, manager, student and mother. So it lists the three main focuses of my life. If you then scroll through my tweets you’ll see that sometimes my activity can be infrequent but the theme is overall the same. I like to share current event articles from various news outlets, sometimes with commentary sometimes without. I will only retweet or post things that are of interest to me or that I have opinions on but I am always careful to word things diplomatically. Last but not least I include tidbits of my personality, my life and what I might be up to at the moment.

My facebook however is somewhat opposite, I post infrequently on facebook and when i do its mainly to update my family or friends in other states on what Ava and I have been up to. In the last year my cluster of posts came around holidays or other milestones, like the first day of school or a personal achievement. Though I don’t post often on my views or beliefs I have posted about going back to school and what i am going for.

Does it tell the audience what you do for a living or hope to do for a career?

On both my twitter and facebook it is fairly easy to tell what I currently do and what I aspire to do. On twitter as I mentioned above my header (right under my profile picture) states what I do, that i’m a student as well as a mother. If you read my tweets going back you can see when I got accepted and signed onto the major here at NYCCT. On facebook it’s easier to see because it lists the school and the major as well as how far along I am. However you have to rely on my status updates to understand where I plan to go with this degree.

What assumptions would someone make about your personality?

I would hope that people would assume that I am, organized, educated, motivated and unique. I share a variety of things on all my pages, current events, entertainment and just my own quirky observations that I would hope there is enough insight into my life to be helpful but not too much where it clouds the line of professionalism.

What Does the Future Hold for Raceless Individuals and their Offsprings?

The American Academy of Children & Adolescent Psychiatry expects the multiracial children population to be one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. population. Individuals who identify as “raceless” and who have offspring are increasing the population and the likelihood of having more progressive children. Although the number of mixed-race-families are increasing, the label of whether a child is black or white will be tougher than ever. In my presentation I explore many popular offspring of blended families still face the struggles of what box to check.

Do Raceless Individuals Exist?

The Impact of Viral Videos

After reading Racist Visual Rhetoric and Images of Trayvon Martin by Lisa Lebduska, I can see clearly how scopic regime is the difference between the way our culture constructs fiction and fact.  To every story, there are some elements that trigger a reaction in us and determine specific ways of seeing. In order to make sense of the things we see, we visualize an image that takes place in the scopic regime.  Why is it that images and videos have such an impact on us?  I would have to say that it’s because imagery and visual mediation is such powerful tool that it can both alleviate pain and stress and cause pain.

In today’s society, imagery plays such an important role and sadly, many of what we see in social media can often be damaging and volatile. A rumor posted on social media can rapidly and extensively spread and in the case of Trayvon Martin, the media has conflated images and texts collaboratively tell the story of such a tragic case. The question can be asked, why does some videos go viral while others do not? On both sides of the Martin and Zimmerman’s case, there has been a deliberately “engineered” action to use viralty to spread content and mobilize support. As Jones and Hafner stated “One important though sometimes neglected aspect of digital literacy in the ability to use digital tools to manage, distribute and focus attention.”

Clearly, it is the rhetorical influence that viral videos have upon the public to control how we exchange information and related to each other. As participants in online discourse communities and social networks, it has become very easy to  share mutual interests, help one another with questions, voice complaints and share experiences and information.


Do Raceless Individuals Exist?

As many of you know or may not know, I was born in Jamaica— an island with an ancestry of both Taino and Africans. Before I migrated to America, I never labeled myself as black, non-white, non-hispanic because those terms did not exist in my vocabulary or culture– I was Jamaican and then I came here. For many immigrants there is a unwritten language that you have to know here without being directly told that the language even exist which is to categorize yourself. One of those subtle languages you are expected to know is the language and the history of race in America. Race in America is extremely sensitive, there is almost no way to desensitize the terrible implications of slavery.

First, I must say that as an outsider, it is unique paradigm to see, you are a part of it but in many ways your are not. There is the white world and the black world– no mater what country you are from you are forced to choose a category. I don’t make the rules, that just how it is in America. We are encouraged to create a three fold color scheme where white, black and shades of grey exist but the reality is the predispose and reinforced dichotomy only exist with two shades and the American media reinforces it every single second they have. And for any second you think that it does not exist then you are too naive or you have been privileged to have not seen the murky waters.

There are people who are forced to categorize, label or identify, whatever they are calling it now, as one or the other and then there are those who identify as raceless individuals. Not to discount their reasoning on identifying as a “raceless individual” because it’s quite a utopian view, however let me remind you that this is America we are talking about. You cannot afford to choose because the choosing has already been done for you, the choice has been made. In Lisa Lebduska article “Racist Visual Rhetoric and Images of Trayvon Martin” she toys with the idea “Whether we see, what we see, and how we see it is determined by tacit cultural conventions and regulations.” (1) The truth is or at least my truth is, you can’t change it because you can’t undo slavery, you can’t undo racial tension, the eyes can’t unsee it, you can’t rewrite the past and you can’t change the past. You can’t prevail in America as a raceless individual because it won’t allow you to, you have to choose black or white or by some chance you may be both but nonetheless you still have to choose. You are not afforded the luxury of not seeing color or any features that expose someones’ ancestry because the American conventional views does not allow it. The ways in which we see a person, and how we see them are influenced and will continue to be influenced by the traditional ways of thinking of the already established, non-changing paradigm of America.


So where do we go from here you may be asking and my answer is I don’t know.




The Impact of the Images & Videos

“Allocca explains there are three characteristics of the viral video that cause a spontaneous and rapid growth in views and cultural experience: tastemakers, creative participating communities, and complete unexpectedness (Cohen & Kenny 123) .”

Social networks are large communities of there own with videos that come and go everyday. The most recent video is of the Drake Hotline Bling music video.Drake’s video became an internet sensation for those three reasons listed in the quote. Viral videos have become such a large part of American because the element of surprise and the creativity that comes out of different discourse communities brings out a mixture of entertainment with internet success.

On the more serious side of viral media is the racial debates that come out of viral images. In the article Racist Visual Rhetoric and Images of Trayvon Martin, Lisa Lebduska explores the impact visual performances have on society. In the Trayvon Martin case the most direct influence on the views of the public came from the many ways the media and both sides portrayed Martin and Zimmerman.

“President Obama framed the event’s visual significance when he observed, “My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,”directly challenging the racist scopic regime he has confronted throughout his political career (Lebduska 2).”

Discourse communities can no longer argue that an image presented does not change and fuel racial debates. In Zimmerman’s trial the racial fuel that was allowed because of the uncensored distribution of images that show the same two people in multiple different lights.

The issue that I feel is most relevant in this matter is whether the image with ever stay true to its context. A common issue in racially fueled discourse is that a single image can change the course of a trial and erode the justice system as the meme does with politics.

My final thought on the viral video/image is this:

If an image has so much power, why can it not be used for the building up of a more sound culture?

The Attention Given to the Tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s Death

According to Haffner and Jones, “attention is distributed not only across screen space and virtual space, but also across physical spaces” (86). This rings true in the horrific event of the death of Trayvon Martin which gave rise to the ongoing discourse of racism.

In the simultaneous productions of discourse communities geared towards the tragedy, these discourse communities structured their attention first by interacting with each other via visual images of both Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Photos surfacing onto the internet depicted Trayvon Martin as one of three different characters: “a true the black child, a menacing black criminal, and an average teenager” (Lebduska 1). Discourse communities surrounded the ongoing case by distributing their attention in a particular communicative situation by understanding cultural conventions and regulations  surrounding the case.  Ultimately, that is determined by what each individual discourse community sees and how they see it.

Discourse communities that arose to advocate for or against both Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, were influenced by three characteristics described by the linguist Ron Scollon as :

1. As persons  with all of their memories and experiences to the social relationship they have with other people

2. The relationship they have with other people.

3. The kinds of communication tools that they have to help organize attention in specific areas.

“Digital media are having an effect on the kinds of attention structures that people adopt in a whole range of different situations” (Jones & Haffner 88). The distribution throughout the internet also brought about the social action of physically commit together outside the realm of the web to advocate for justice for Trayvon Martin. Attention is distributed amongst mental structures, social relationships and communication tools and in the case of the George Zimmerman trial; mental structures formed discourse communities within the web, social relationships emerged due to the discourse communities within the web, and through the communication of technological tools, both the discourse community and social relationshipswere able to thrive.

At the same time,  “digital media and the internet facilitate participate in this economy, by creating new channels for distributing attention” (Jones & Haffner 90). Because there were multiple photos circulating the internet, people were able to focus their attention on their perspective of Trayvon Martin. Was he just an innocent victim who was killed because of the color of his skin?  Or was he a ruthless thug that had it coming to him?  Variations of his photos convey a different interpretation for a lot of different people. The only two people who truly knew him was his parents and people only speculate and force their opinions onto society because digital media grants the affordance of letting anyone say how they think and feel about situations.