Kernel 2 for this #DigPINS series has focused on the N in the acronym – Networking. I have been pretty engaged in many different networks on Twitter through my personal account, but I have tried to use this Kernel to build up the networks for my ProfRegKim Twitter handle. In a practical sense, building up a new digital identity hasn’t been all that difficult since I’m basically using the same skill set from my other digIDs. But, the background conversation for this Kernel on our slack has helped to extract some reasons why I tend to feel comfortable in digital spaces (aside from my general extroverted personality).
What got me started was actually a blog post from one of my colleagues, Sarah Titus. In her post, she linked to a video from John Green who was presented as ” vlogbrother‘s John Green.” BUT. . . true fanboys would know him from his impact on young adult readers. And because I’m not a fanboy, but a fan of soccer, I know him as the owner of AFC Wimbledon via his frequent appearances on the Men In Blazers show.
What caught my attention wasn’t what was happening in the video from vlogbrothers (aside from the crooked soccer scarves in the back) but that I was encountering Green in a different digital identity. I knew that he was the #GOAT YA author but I don’t primarily read him that way because he has a Twitter handle from which he talks about sports and I follow him on my personal Twitter. As he notes on the bio for that account, “I’m a novelist and videoblogger who comes here to livetweet the football.” So, while I know these other digital John_Greens are out there, I only know him through one primary network of American soccer fans.
And while I can’t speak for him, I wonder how he might view our conversations on the #DigPINS Slack for Kernel 2. People there have been using the term “authentic” as a measure or a guide for our digital interactions. Which of the digital identities noted above would he consider as the authentic John Green? Is this an issue that troubles him or has the delineation of these Twitter handles along content resolved the issue for him?
As for myself, I tend not think/use authenticity as a measure of digital identity. I think that is partly because I’ve faced frustration and failure in trying to evaluate if I’m presenting IRL an authentic self when my initial sense of self comes within the dynamics of a Korean speaking household but that self somehow needs to be presented to an ethnic and/or language community that does not understand that experience. I feel that for much of my life, I’ve had to live in a translated sense of self so it’s difficult to pin down what is “authentic” because that self is constantly shifting in light of my contexts.
I recognize that as a person of color, my experiences in thinking through authentic identity are constellated around a different set of experiences from my colleagues who may have the privilege of not having to constantly negotiate identity. Thus, I think that the activity of discerning what to leverage can be a complicated extraction when we sometimes can’t leverage our own embodied authenticities (like how I am read racially or gender-wise by my audience) with autonomy in the way that a personality trait (such as sense of humor) can be negotiated. And, I note this again to affirm that the possibility of multiple authentic selves can become powerful for those who may not be able to fully leverage all aspects of their identity freely.
Which is what brings my thoughts back to the big N of this #DigPINS Kernel 2. The digital identity that I wish to portray is one that is contextualized by the networks within which I engage precisely because my digital identities are multiple. And, the pathways of our networking through a particular identity determine how we are viewed. Our networks create our digital identity and how ProfRegKim connects with others on Twitter will be very different from my personal account because of the conversations of the networks with which he engages.