People around me have often asked me what I think my identity is. And I have asked myself many times who I really am. There are many different places where I can explore my own identity and one of the many is online.
I, as many other teens in the world, am very involved in social media. I have accounts on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and more. Most of the teens who are also active online usually live two lives and own two completely different identities for online and offline. Some lives this double life style because of the various audience they need to keep in mind and some uses the separate identities when one life can’t satisfy what the other life can.
Yet I don’t see myself as having two separate identities for online and offline. I am the same me that thinks aloud, that craves for noodles even after I have just eaten, and I am still the same when I am on Facebook talking to my friends and when I am shouting to my friends across the street.
What about your online identity? Have you ever notice and difference and similarities in your online and offline identities?
Do you see the same person reflecting off the screen?
Because I do.
One of my passion in life is finding and eating good food. To me, good food gives people joy. It gives motivation and hope to my life when I am not feeling my strongest. I am a known foodie in my friend group because I spend a significant amount of time searching for food I love and I show that love on my social media profiles. About one third of the pictures I post on Instagram are pictures of food.
This is only a small part of the food posts I show my friends.
Not only is a huge part of my online identity made up of food, most of my real life identity is also composed of a substantial amount of food. I don’t put most of the food photos I take onto social media because that will be an obnoxious amount of photos. In addition to the food photo journal on my phone with a collection of the food that I have eaten, I also have a notebook where I keep track of all the restaurants I’ve been to.
But of course my identity doesn’t consist of just food. I am also a big fan of books because I believe that reading is a great way to escape your own mind and let your mind to be in the mind of someone else. Reading is an unique experience that allows me to feel the emotions and the meanings in the texts. I cherish the time that I spend reading all my books no matter if they are books I hate or love because I will always learn something from them regardless. I usually don’t record down what books I have read, how I feel about them and how they make me feel. That’s not until I discovered a social media site for book lovers named Goodreads. Goodreads allows anyone to create an account and saves the books they have read, will read, and reading currently. They can also make comments on books they have read and like each others’ comments. It is exactly like a Facebook but it is all about books.
This is my profile on Goodreads that shows some of the books I have read. I am sure that these are not all the books I have read but I try my best to rate all the books I remember reading. But the record of books is not a big deal because the experience of reading is more important than posting it up on social media. This is where I think my identity from online to offline stays the same because I am still a book lover. As long as I get to read, other things don’t really matter much to me. Sharing my reading experiences on Goodreads is a way that I show everyone the books I like and the books I do not like as much as others. But reading after all is, for me, a very private activity. I don’t read so I can put it on social media for the world to see, I read for my well being and for pleasure.
Food and books have been in my life since I can remember, but my high school life was dominated by a new hobby, golf. My older sister influenced me to be in the girls golf team at school, since then, I fell in love with this mind game. I have always thought golf is boring because it is a slow and not at all excited activity, but I was wrong. Golf has dramatically changed my high school life and my life in general. I am much happier because I get to do something that I love with the teammates I love.
Then of course I would love to shared my happiness with my friends and we used Facebook to help. But only selective golf pictures are shared to the public because most pictures are posted in a private group on Facebook. I don’t mind if these pictures are left on the device that they were taken on because even if they are not posted on Facebook, my love for golf will not diminish if other people cannot see pictures of it. But often, I don’t own the device with these picture I take with the team, so having them on the private group is my way of seeing them and saving them.
In the summer prior to college, I received my own set of golf clubs so I can still play even though I am not on the school team anymore. I was filled with joy because I could not afford my set of golf clubs and I did not plan to have my own set until I have gotten a job after college. My mother knew that I am passionate about golf so she bought me the clubs as a graduation gift. My mother nor I have wanted the clubs to take photos just to post it on social media to tell the world my love for golf. We decided to get clubs because we both know that I will continue playing golf even when I am not in the school team.
Golfing and eating are two of the three hobbies that I can’t actually do online. I love these hobbies dearly but the experience of chewing or swinging a club in the air is different from seeing a picture of them. So even though I love to eat and golf no matter what setting it is, I must express my love for them in different ways in real life and online because they simply have very distinct forms of expression online and offline. I would love to take a bite of French toast online, but internet does not allow me to look at a picture of French toast and take a bite of it. But trust me, I would if I could.
My identity is almost identical when I am online and in person but identity itself is complicated, at least my identity is extremely complex. It is complex enough for me to sometimes lose track of my identity when I am trying to identify it. I sometimes feel that there are way too many factors that you have to consider for your identity that we may think we are different people at different platforms. And just because I can’t swing a club online does not mean that I don’t like golf, it’s because it is not possible for me to do so online. As of now, I show my beliefs and what I love on social media only if they identify with me in person. And this is still me, no matter where I am.
-Ka Ki Lily Law