My Digital Mirror

The internet is an informational pathway that is inhabited by many users. It is a being of many faces.  It can be a cruel mistress to those plagued by trolls, a tool for spreading propaganda, and especially a source for entertainment. Like the physical world, cyberspace is filled with many users that identify with certain cliques and material online more than others. These online personas are either reflections of their users or are an entirely different being than the person behind their digital face. I like to think certain aspects of my real life character can be reflected by my digital identity.

Outside of cyberspace, if one were to look at me they would see a husky Hispanic male of average height that enjoys reading, gaming, and is a college student. These characteristics are wholly me and are the essence of my uniqueness in the real world. The somewhat shallow anonymity of the internet hides certain attributes of my live identity. If one were to look at my search history, they would be able to determine I am most likely a male gamer who likes epic music and attends The University of Texas at Austin. As stated before, my live and digital identity can certainly be matched. Online advertising companies point out these characteristics almost with scary accuracy as most sites I visit have ads aimed at either at my gamer or student side. Even more damning evidence is the ad companies know my gender and sexual orientation based on the sites I visit and have their ads filled with females trying to appeal to young men. If one were to look at the amount of time I spend online it would be a staggering number. Furthermore, those hours are mainly dedicated to using the internet to suit MY needs while a small amount of time is spent contributing to the information pathway.

My passive participation on the internet plays more into my identity as I consume more data online than actually produce. This disparity between consuming and producing is one of the many digital divides in cyberspace. Like me, many people read posts and skim the web in order to find something entertaining to view. In contrast, the producers of such exciting and eye catching material are a very small number in comparison to their viewers.  While others use the internet freely to post, comment, blog, and connect by putting up material for viewers to see, I like to sit back and enjoy the works created by other people. As a major computer gamer, the internet is the best source to seek out help, guides, and informational content on games, few of which I help contribute to the community. For example, I seek the wise words of YouTube pundits and their seemingly confident opinions on the gaming industry and their effects on the world.  Of course, the ratio of the consumption/production of the internet and my online identity are unclear until I were to describe how my access to the internet made me who I am.

How can one describe their cyberspace identity without being influenced by their access to informational technology? I can easily describe my online identity being a reflection of my live identity but in the end, it is ultimately influenced by my online participation in terms of access. After all, I wouldn’t be a University of Texas at Austin student if I did not use an online application via my family’s desktop computer. As a student, the internet currently serves as a tool to further the student experience by having constant ease of access to online classes and homework. One of the biggest examples of influence in terms of access would be my identification as a PC gamer. I wouldn’t be a PC gamer if I didn’t have constant access to a gaming computer along with a fast internet connection to game online. I wouldn’t even be comfortable using a PC to game if it for my knowledge of growing up with computers since the age of four. My parents have always encouraged to learn and manage computer technology, knowing it was a budding skill in the world of business. In relation to socio-economic standing, my knowledge of knowing how to use a computer efficiently and having the technical knowhow puts me at an advantage to those who don’t have access.

The internet is a vast ocean riddled with business, entertainment, and culture. The internet is lauded around as tool to usher in a future where cultural, political, and geographical lines are blurred. Ultimately, a harbinger to unite humanity in a way of which has never been done before. The anonymity of cyberspace would promote the sharing of beliefs, ideas, and experiences without having to worry about one’s real identity hampering their digital experience. Does this not sound like one of the greatest achievements of humanity? To ascend beyond our own conscious environment and connect with others you normally wouldn’t acknowledge on the street? Both questions are not as easy to answer as most would think. The problems of the past eerily haunt our digital space as discrimination, lack of privacy, and lack of access still plague many to this day.

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