In my generation in today’s society, it seems that we are on the Internet interacting virtually with others rather than with the people we are physically surrounded by. We have grown up with the Internet, having it as a part of our daily lives starting at an early age. While I have not always been a part of the middle class, I have had access to the Internet starting at an age where I was actually able to grasp the meaning if what it is to have Internet. Without access to Internet, I now realize just how much of a disadvantage I would have had while going through high school as well as this first year and a half of college. Although the Internet does not control my life in the sense that I am completely consumed with it, it has however had an affect on my life and daily interactions, as well as many other aspects of my personal life that I have not come to realize until recently.
Since the age of twelve, I have been using the Internet for social media and entertainment, as well as a source for information that I could not have otherwise attained without access to a much larger spectrum of knowledge than that of my own. Without knowing it, I have been creating a version of myself online that the Internet believes to be who I truly am. Although some part of the online version of myself holds true to my personal character offline, there are certain parts of this character that are nothing like the person that I am if you were to meet me in person.
While online, everything you do is recorded in one way or another. Although some may see this as useful, it can sometimes limit the things that you are exposed to because your server is personalized to you and the things that the Internet thinks you would like or be interested in. Since the Internet is able to keep track of everything you do while online, it uses previous searches in order to advertise to you while you are online. For me, my Pandora station knows that I am a teenage girl, and most of the advertisements I hear are about jobs that I am suitable for, affordable clothing stores near my location, as well as other opportunities to receive money based on the mere fact that I am old enough to meet the qualifications. Personally, I feel that this is quite an invasion of privacy. The Internet is exposing me to advertisements that they believe would appeal to my character based solely on my physical qualities such as age, gender, and social status.
Online, I appear to be just like any other normal teenager that goes to a college away from home and works a lot. However, there’s a lot more to who I am than these few things that I am identified by online. The most obvious difference that I see between my online self and my actual personality is my sarcasm. In cyberspace, it’s quite difficult to express emotions unless you’re using emoticons or if you directly say what emotion you are trying to express. For me, I try to refrain from being as sarcastic and negative online as I am in person just because it is interpreted much differently via the Internet rather than in person. I believe that all of the roles I play online can also contribute to how I am perceived in person. I never believed that organizations that are interested in you would actually go online and visit your social media sites until there was an incident in high school where I learned this lesson the hard way. After that, I began to monitor the things that I posted and the things that were being said about me that would appear if someone were to try and find information about me online.
For the most part, I use the Internet for one of these three things: homework, social media, and television. When it comes to social media, I am portrayed differently based on the site I am using. On Facebook, I never actually post anything. I am usually just tagged in pictures with my family, church group, or my sorority. On Instagram, I look like someone who has a lot of fun all the time, which is not all that true. However, on Twitter, I feel that that’s where I am the most personal. Since I have family and other adults on my Instagram and Facebook, I monitor those much more closely than I do my Twitter. I feel that this is a good example of how privacy on the Internet can affect the way that you portray yourself based on your expected audience.
For me, I think that this is a significant factor that represents the type of person I am. Not in the sense that I pretend to be someone I’m not for other people, but in the sense that I have to monitor my posts because I am a part of several different organizations that would interpret certain things differently. All in all, I believe that I am on the side of the digital divide that allows me to have access to all of the things that I need in order successfully portray the person that I am. In addition to this, I have the ability to gain information that is necessary for me to not only be successful in my academics, but also as someone who should know what’s going on around them throughout the world. I am a leader in my church, I am a sorority girl, I am a college student, and all of these roles play a part in who I am online as well as who I am outside of the realm of the Internet.