As a 20-year-old white girl, my online presence could be stereotyped as an Instagram-like-obsessed, 300-day-snapchat-streaked, online-shopper. But that stereotype does not really have any merit. I won’t lie, I love my VSCO filtered Instagram✨ and always have a Nordstrom’s tab open on my safari browser, but that doesn’t define me by any means. The online world is full of digital divides and preconceived notions of what people are and are not, just like the real world. These differences are often times magnified online due to the level of anonymity and lack personal social interaction.
I grew up with internet in my home. I am a child of the web, and have always had access to it. It gave me a leg-up on many people because I have a native tongue for online language. In many ways, this has given me lots of situated ethos in my role online. I am seen as tech savvy, and know my keyboard shortcuts. People my age are assumed to just know how to operate online because everyone else our age does. For some, this can be a disheartening notion, because if they cannot operate online, they are expected to be able to. For me, I’m pretty lucky to know what I’m doing (for the most part). 👌
Another divide I constantly see for myself online is gender. I use many websites typically coded male. As a regular Reddit user for 5 years now, I personally use it as a channel of information. Girls are typically viewed online to like pictures, not text. I am on many subreddits that are filled with pictures of puppies🐶 and cool architecture, but I subscribe to more text-based ones. I really enjoy reading articles linked to posts and then reading the comments about the articles. This is typically thought of male actions, despite me browsing from my sorority house.
Logically, it does not make sense why these gender divides are online because enjoying current affairs is a gender-neutral action. My situated ethos this time around is expected to stay off the site and look at Pintrest posts of hairstyles. But, I created an emergent ethos for myself in being well informed and able to critically think about what I read online.
There are many more divides I can explain my place in, but I now would like to draw attention to the way in which these divides characterize me. These divides place people into boxes and make them feel as if they are expected to act a certain way online because they are a certain race or gender or age. But, all of this is fleeting. These boxes don’t have lids; you don’t have to be in them if we all work to get out of them. At times I feel like I am expected to be this snapchat crazed puppet because if I am not then I am somehow less of a girl. But if I try my best to respect myself online and respect others of their backgrounds, then maybe we can get somewhere. If we work towards breaking down and bridging these divides online, we can begin to use the internet like the highway it was intended to be. Right now, these divides are road blocks and street lights stuck on red. My place online is like someone stuck in traffic, not really going anywhere. But with time I hope to get to that exit lane to be able to get where I want, without anything stopping me.