This notion of a digital footprint is interesting. To me a footprint implies something thatdisappears and gets washed away. The trail of footprints left behind someone walking in the forest shows the way that they travelled. After the rain comes and the wind blows through the footprints disappear. The reality is that our online footprint doesn’t get washed away and it doesn’t disappear. I think this is what strikes me most about our presence and our activity on the internet. Where does that terrible email we once wrote go? Will someone ever see it? Probably not but who knows? Where does that embarrassing university photo go from facebook?
I appreciated the article by Sarah Perez in which she talks about a “digital shadow”. Maybe this is more accurate when thinking of our online behavior. A shadow follows you where ever you go. However, a shadow lingers, it is not always seen and it disappears from time to time. These things that Sarah Perez talks about that contribute to our digital shadow are interesting. Bank transactions, medical data base information, and many other things make up this “shadow”. Recently, I was contacted by the Canadian Student Loans about a privacy breach and it got me thinking about our identity online, our presence and what it says about us, who can access it and what does it mean in this crazy boundary-less world of the internet that we live in everyday.
The notion of a tattoo is something more permanent. Something that doesn’t disappear without a lot of expense, time and effort. The tattoo that someone wears on their body has significance. It has meaning. Often the image was carefully chosen and selected to reflect a part of their life, an experience, a love, or a deeper philosophical meaning. There is intent to make a statement. An intent to tell the world “Look, this is a part of me and a representation of who I am.”
So, digital footprint, shadow, tattoo…whatever. What is mine? Do I have one? Should I have one?
The answer I think is yes if we use the internet – then we have a digital presence. We are tracked by our behavior for marketing purposes and pop-up ads find what we are interested in whether we want them to or not! It is amazing that just about any website I go to a bunch of “Teach in China” jobs come up….go figure. When I google myself with just my broad name a few articles from my university come up, my facebook page, and my profile on a few sites including my current place of work. Not much. Nothing comes up that is embarrasing or anything that I regret. I’m lucky. But does it represent me? Maybe a little.
I think as an international educator it’s imperative that I have an online presence for a number of reasons.
- Having an online presence can help me in getting a job.
- I have a footprint whether I like it or not: might as well make it reflect me.
- It serves as a good model for our students