My Virtual Self

Recently, I read an article that claimed that a paper resumé is becoming (slowly) obsolete. That employers, particularly in creative fields, are more interested in one’s “social presence” to learn more about the kind of person they might be hiring. What interests them, what do they think is important enough to share, how do they interact via social media — Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Google+, and all of the other ones I don’t know or understand completely.

So then I started thinking… I should probably update my resumé to make sure it’s current anyway… which would then mean updating it on my alumni account and LinkedIn. More virtual connections. I should probably update my volunteer profile on Stanford365 as well, because otherwise how will they send along any volunteer possibilities that might actually interest me?

Once upon a time I once had a Friendster account, which I think may still exist though I barely used it to begin with. Now, however, I have a Facebook account, a GoodReads account, a LinkedIn account, and most recently, a Pinterest account. Oh and I also have Google+ because I have a Gmail account. Not to mention that my IM account from college is probably still usable and my old Yahoo! email address… then there’s my college email account, my old work email account, my alum email…  Ooh, and I also like and use Dropbox for file sharing. In short, somewhere in the annals of network connections and “cloud” space, my fragmented identity exists for almost anyone to see. Even while I write this, I can think of more ways that I exist in virtual space, this blog being the next most obvious one.

Which begs the questions: Do all of those things add up to me? Or just a virtual me? If those things aren’t really reflective of me, then I should probably delete them, right? When did everything we liked, thought, breathed, and looked at have to be public? It’s like we’ve walked ourselves right into 1984, and Big Brother didn’t even have to force us into the Ministry of Love.

Don’t get me wrong — I think the power of the Internet and social media in general is incredible. It has allowed us to connect across time/space/culture in ways that were quite literally unimaginable before. I love being able to have a live face-chat meeting via the Internet with six other people, even while we are spread across four time zones.But I do wonder if having these capabilities actually means that we’re progressing…

It’s not that my interests, as seen in virtual media, aren’t real. I have read those books and I do like those shoes I saw online. And I DO feel connected to a larger community when I see how many other people have also read and commented on the same book or ask me a question about some article I posted. But my sincere  hope is that “the real me,” the one who writes in my little 5-year daily journal and is a sucker for crying at the end of feel-good movies; the one who dances in the car and at my computer and with my husband and sometimes even the dog; the one who really loves working with and for teachers and students; the one who adores Husband, family, and best friends… I hope that person will always be far more substantial — within and without — than virtual me.

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