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CamGuides: Managing your Digital Presence

Online behaviour

The way we are defined on social media, on the Internet, and on Google has become more important than who we actually are as people.

- Jon Ronson, 'So You've Been Publicly Shamed' (2015)

 

A wooden mannequinYour online or digital identity refers to how you behave online, what content you place online, both in open and closed spaces e.g. both social media and in a closed forum on a virtual learning environment. The management of your online identity (sometimes called a 'personal brand') requires skill and nuance, and the extent to which you intend to manage this is entirely a personal choice.

However, your actions and speech online, and in particular how they might be perceived by others, will have implications for your future employment and when applying for further study. This is especially the case in certain professions and areas of study. It is also not clear that those who find your content and contributions online will care whether your online presence is intended as professional or personal.

There is plenty of advice available about how to behave in a digital environment, and some resources are given below. Here, though are some brief tips for you in posting content online as a graduate student.

 

  • Context: the platform you're using and its potential audience should have an impact on what you write and contribute - your username, how easily findable you are, and the type of platform are all relevant here.
  • Expression: avoid using bad language and slurs online.
  • Nuance: character limitations in how much you can post can create problems in others' understanding of your point - be careful to consider this before you post. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it.
  • Time: think about how much time you spend online, and the time of day this is - how might this be perceived?
  • Privacy: thinking about your privacy settings is absolutely vital for your digital wellbeing but also consider the privacy of others - don't post photos without consent, and consider how what you write might affect specific individuals.
  • Sharing: what you share can have an impact on how you are perceived, even if you are not the originator of the content.
  • Disagreement: if you come across posts or conversations with which you disagree and decide to engage with this, try to treat your interlocutors with respect, but always ensure that you protect yourself and your wellbeing especially if you are a woman or a person of colour. Learning about the reporting options available to you might also be helpful.
More advice and resources
Steve Steinberg, (2017). Online etiquette: The ultimate guide to social media manners
University of Hull, (2018). Digital Student: Presenting Yourself Online.
Wikipedia. (2018). Online identity.

Image credits

CC0 by Kira auf der Heide via Unsplash