Dec 10

Reflecting on an Initially Frustrated Analysis

It’s a bit odd looking back at my digital identity analysis from the start of the semester. Nothing I said was necessarily untrue, but I’m a bit startled by just how apathetic, disinterested, and plain angry my language sounded. I opened with a paragraph describing my limited digital footprint and how I’d “never really thought about it before.” I go into more detail listing the social media I don’t use or subscribe to rather than discussing the ones I do use, almost like I was proud of it. I discussed my dislike for how seriously people treat social media and lamented how “they blur the lines between personal identity and internet identity; meticulously, unconsciously crafting their ideal digital socialsphere one profile picture and status update at a time.” Again, this isn’t something I don’t believe to some extent, but I don’t recall ever feeling quite that charged about the issue. It just sounds like an odd, angry tirade against the crafting of digital identities, which I don’t recall ever feeling so strongly about and I certainly don’t feel as much now. Not the best way to describe yourself when starting off a digital studies class, right?

Anyway, working somewhat extensively with my new domain name this semester has definitely gotten me to rethink how I approach my digital identity. In conjunction with this class I’ve also been taking a fantasy writing class with Dr. Rochelle. For the first time, he instituted a new project using UMW Domains where students in the class create a fictional fantasy world to host a story in, filling in Tolkien-esque encyclopedic information about this world’s history, culture, and society as well as creating a map. All of these things are hosted on a subdomain of our website and are all accessible in links on the center hub awesomely and appropriately named “The Wood between the Worlds.” I worked quite a bit on putting that website together, and I quickly started having a lot of fun customizing and fashioning the site to match how I was mentally envisioning the story. It really became a major assistance in the creative process. I altered and changed my site as I was building this world from the ground up. Expressing it in this manner of “hosting” my ideas to the public gave me a particular need to be mindful of an audience, helpful when getting lost in your head. Naturally, this is a common sort of thing when building an entire, functioning world over a few months, so it was nice to have that outlet.

I had a similar sort of process working on the digital textuality assignment. I was initially a bit wary of crafting a website straight from html code, but, again, I quickly found myself enjoying the process of typing in something one place and watching it pop out online. Not that I really think many people will stumble upon my work, but I’ve realized there is a specific mental, creative process I launch into when I’m working on things that could be read by anyone. Again, I’ve found it to be an extremely useful way to periodically distance myself from my writing and view it from an objective perspective, as if someone really did just happen by and see it. What would they think of it? Is it too far out of context for anyone not aware of the project, or does it stand for itself? What would the crazy internet film community think of my analysis of Travis Bickle? How would the psychological community feel about my sections on mirror analysis? While these weren’t really active, present concerns for the work I was doing, the simple fact that I was working on something under my name that’ll just sit around on the internet for anyone to look at forced me to adjust accordingly.

And that is, of course, because I do actually care about how I’m crafting my digital identity. It’s almost a struggle not to in today’s world. But especially considering my interests in film, video games, and music, I really need to work even more on establishing a clean, uniform internet presence, and this class essentially forced me to confront this truth. I am very grateful for that. I did get there in some way in my original analysis. Towards the end I wrote: “Lately though, I’m thinking more and more of using these devices as ways for me to connect artistically and professionally with other writers, musicians, or whatever else I decide to get in to.” It’s really the only concession I make in that whole smug paper, but it’s definitely something that was on my mind. Naturally, I’m thrilled to be working specifically now on creating a professionally-oriented webpage to head my domain. Putting every piece of it together launches me into the same sort of thought processes I described. Though it’s a bit different when I’m the topic to model my site after. No fantasy story or analysis paper to model it after, it’s just me. How can it be easier crafting the representational identity of a story or a paper than crafting one for myself? Cue the existential crisis?

In all seriousness, I’m glad that my exposures this semester have made me realize what I’ve been missing out on. Less seriously, I hope one of these days I’ll find out who I am so I can actually go make the right looking website.

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