Virtual Personality

It took me awhile to get onto the TED talks bandwagon, but now that I am riding- I really like this site. I watched this video about a week ago:

You can watch it. But you don't have to, obviously. Ever since I watched it, I have been thinking a lot about the idea of virtual personalities. 
The speaker, Adam Ostrow, defines your virtual personality as this cloud that stores your facebook status updates, the connections you make on twitter, the comments you leave on a blog, etc. Your social media presence becomes your virtual personality. 

In this TED talk, he mentions a program called "My Next Tweet." It can scan your status updates or your tweets, and it can predict others things you might say based on your past content. Fascinating and weird. But his whole point is that we are creating a digital archive of our self.

I heard about someone in the news who recently died. She went to BYU, so I looked her up and saw her facebook profile. I couldn't see much of the details, but it is so odd to think that facebook could be this human collection project. Will our profiles ever be deleted if no one else knows the password? 
Well, I asked google the question and got a link to this article in TIME magazine. Apparently, facebook "memorializes" the profile and it can only be accessed by friends and family, but nothing can be changed or updated. Also, you can not access the page from search results. But I don't know if I want my profile to be memorialized. 

I don't know if I would really want my virtual personality to be saved until the end of the internet. 
Case in point...

The bulk of the people that I actually interact with in life are different from the people I interact with on the web. There are a select few who I spend time with in person and online. 
It is always so interesting to see how someone's virtual personality differs from their human personality. I can think of one friend in particular who is fairly quiet. It's taken me years to really get to know her because she is so shy. But on her blog, I hear about all these crazy things she does and the way she describes them is so so different than if you were having a real conversation with her. She is much more expressive (and perhaps at ease) in her virtual environment. 
The more I think about it, I can think of many examples of people who seem to have such a different virtual persona than they are in real life. Sometimes I read blog posts of my friends and think, wow is that really the person I know? Have they changed or are they just different online? Or maybe this is just a side of them that I have never seen. 

My point. I think my personality in real life is similar to but not identical to my virtual personality. I still don't know how to indicate if I am typing a comment that is meant to be sarcastic. I use plenty of exclamation points because I don't know how else to indicate that I am happy or smiling. I am used to showing a lot of enthusiasm when I talk to people, but you can't really do that without knowing the best ways to use punctuation. I am also a typography nut. I own hundreds of fonts and I will analyze them for far too long when I am working on a project. But I never use any type variation online or in an email. 

So if I am collecting this digital archived collection of "who I am" then I don't really know if I want my virtual self to be "who I am." As of now, I would prefer to have my journals and my sketchbooks saved much more than my blog posts. 

But the internet isn't going anywhere, and I may spill water on my journal. The ink isn't going to last. Things could burn or be lost in some natural disaster. So I wonder if emergency preparedness could be about preserving stuff or thoughts just as much as preparing food and having an escape route. 

I know that every time someone's hard-drive crashes, I always hope that they are internet savvy so that they won't really lose everything. Now days, if you have picasa or flickr, or if you are one of those people who uploads every photo you take on facebook, then you don't really need a back-up hard drive. And if you have pinterest, you have inspirational images and quotes that you love. If you have your life synced up using google calendar, then you don't really need iCal or all of that other stuff. 

And think about how cool it will be, 40 years from now. I was thinking about my little adorable niece today. I was picturing her as a mom and trying to remember what year it was when she took a certain vacation. She will be able to pull up her mom's blog and be able to quickly browse through the archive and blog titles and she can know exactly what dates they were gone, where they went, and what they did because her mom keeps it all updated. She is going to have a crazy awesome record of her personal history. 

I don't really have a main point or a way to end this. Except to say that I love not being in school anymore. Of couse I loved loved school, but it's also really great to be able to learn whatever you want to learn. 

And just as an update, I still am here in good 'ol Texas looking for jobs. Luckily I have had tons and tons of interviews, but I am still holding out for a full-time offer. I'm grateful that I have had plenty of free-lance projects, melimba orders, a really nice sister and brother-in-law, and 2 adorable toddlers who love to pop bubbles just as quickly as I can blow them. We have also been enjoying some delicious artisan breads, home-made lasagna, roast beef sandwiches with aujus, pumpkin muffins, home-made sweet and sour chicken, and tons of chocolate chip cookies. Yep, I think I have literally gained 10 lbs since I have been here. I have another job fair this week, so if ya'll could twist your fingers in my behalf, that would be great! 


melimba said...

look at you, ms. productive! i had no idea you were doing a blog post while i was wasting time.

fascinating topic about the whole virtual identity. let's talk more about that when you wake up. :). smiley face with beauty mark

thanks for the shout out. but, you didn't mention that the pumpkin "easy" muffins were a major fail.

love that you are here. a perfect job is coming. i can feel it.

emily snyder said...

i can feel it too. i was thinking a lot about you and the right job this morning. i love that you get to be in texas, and yet, am i allowed to be very very jealous too??

very interesting reality of virtual identity. crazy. the idea of tillie getting to look up what her life was like is insane. and yet oddly comforting.

i love you both!

Sarah Middleton said...

i like to think that i am part of your family and i live that dream through this blog and melissa's blog and emily's blog. creepy that i just publicly admitted to stalking your family? slightly.

also, virtual identity. i feel an intense pressure to be witty online and oftentimes will end up "liking" a status on facebook only because i couldn't come up with a good enough comment. so i only post comments that i think are really funny or super awesome. i don't know what that says about my virtual identity, but i like to think that my online personality is similar to my real life one, meaning everything that comes out of my mouth is hilarious.

and you are so awesome. the right job will come!

Brittany said...

I just watched this TED talk a few weeks ago--and to be honest, it totally freaked me out. But the amount of information we have access to is amazing. I'm always questioning my online presence and wondering why I feel compelled to be a part of it. And I've been thinking about what you said yesterday, about how I can be a very vague blogger (don't I know it). I think I like to be a part of the world, but I just like to have my own stuff too. If I put it all on the blog, well that's just a lot of me our there. Forever. And EVER. Like Adam Ostrow said. So I think that's why my online identity can appears differently than me real-life identity.

Always love reading your blog, Becca. And it was such a great surprise to see you yesterday. Good luck with your move today! And keep me posted on your new job!


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