Digital Stamps/footprints…. Call it what you want, what mark will you leave?


Last week I signed my class up to participate in the 2015 Online Anti-bullying form. Upon reviewing the teacher facilitation guide I came across an excellent video clip titled Digital Dossier. Your digital dossier is all the information that is created about you over your life. This starts at birth and continues even after you die. Then earlier this week, Barbara DeWitt, recently shared a TED talk titled Digital Footprints by Michelle Clark. In this video she talks about responsible use of the internet and the importance of building genuine relationships. Sometimes educators find it difficult to connect with youth when talking about Social Media because sometimes they are not as heavily involved in the pressures that come with social media. Likewise, sometimes youth think that their teachers just don’t understand.  Clark uses poetry to assist her in making connections with youth. She shares examples of when we make our lives public we may face consequences in the future. She discussed how sometimes people feel they are exercising their right to self expression. However, later this can come back to haunt us. One example she shared was  of a young man who had been accepted to his dream university only to have the acceptance rescinded due to a post he had made on facebook. Rather than be devastated by the consequences of our online actions Clark offers the following suggestions:

  • Slow down, take time to think before you post
  • She asks you to consider, “How does this instant information impact our hopes and dreams?”
  • Ask yourself: “How could this information be interpreted? or released?”

She closes by reminding us that digital decisions can last a life time. There is no Ctrl+Z once you have made something available online. This week I explored author, Erik Qualman’s TED talk My Digital Stamp. In his talk, he poses the question: “How are people going to remember you?” He explains that each of us now has the opportunity through social media to become a mini-celebrity. We do this through our digital stamp. Qualman outlines two ways to contribute to our digital stamp:

  1. Digital footprints-  These are things you post yourself. For example, videos you upload, things you tweet, fb statuses you post.
  2. Digital Shadows- These are the things OTHERS post about you. This could be of your online OR offline activity. For example, the old saying, What happens in Vegas…….. could now end up on YouTube.

Erik Qualman outlines 5 habits of people who demonstrate leadership online (STAMP):

S- Simple- Not everything we do we need to post.

T- True- Do  a vanity search. Envision your funeral. What would you want people to see?

A- Act- Most of the things we do online are throughput (tweets, answering emails, nothing to show for it).

– Focus on output: “What are you creating?”

M- Map – Have a destination in mind but allow your path to have some flexibility.

P- People- Surround yourself with the right people

Each one of us will take a different path. Qualman talks about being “flawsome”. This means that through our flaws we can showcase how awesome we are. However, from previous class discussions we have explored that true forgiveness is not common. Lastly, Qualman reminds us that the internet is a valuable tool. We need to make intelligent choices and sensor what we enter on the keyboard. How will you leave your best stamp? Reflect on Erik’s questions. Rather than seeking likes or follows, consider: How can I create something of value to others? How can I “Post it foraward”? What can I do for others? When we create genuine posts, the likes and follows will come.


Online Identity Vs. Real Identity- A challenge for authenticity

 People are generally very selective in what they post online about themselves. Even those who seem to have little filter at all rarely post things that depict themselves in a negative light. This is despite the fact they might have a whole lot to say about everyone else and their dog. I certainly don’t look at a bad photo of myself and think, hey, I should put that on Facebook. Likewise, a friend taking a great photo usually ends in… “send me that!”, then is posted on fb for all friends to see.

Looking at Facebook specifically, people use it to create a collection of (good) memories. Not often people post about the skeletons in their own closet. People post happy moments. At this point in my life, my Facebook has gone through a few stages. I remember friends posting party pics of their “best night ever” which turned into a whole lot of pictures of engagement rings followed by wedding photos. Now, my Facebook feeds is full of birth announcements and photos of my friends children. The Social Media and Social Anxiety Link by Dr. Brankica Georgievska, MD expresses that, “Social media pages are becoming more like fairy tales rather than personal stories, where people only put the very best thing that happens at the moment.” We create an online identity that portrays ourselves in the optimal light. We create our online identity based on how we want others to see us.

It is important to recognize when viewing others profiles that their lives are likely not as perfect as they seem. They too, are carefully constructing their online self. Constantly comparing to the lives of others can be draining and affect our long-term well-being. Dr. G states, “People are afraid to ruin their image they have created for themselves, people are reserved and find it awkward to talk face to face with strangers and even friends compared to conversing online.”

“It is the mismatch between our online identity and our real life that is causing much of today’s social anxiety. Having to accept our life as it is, and not as the fairy tale shown on Facebook, is a major cause for anxiety and depression”

– Dr. Georgievska

I recently came across an article online on Common Sense Media about

Selfie Improvement apps. Teens today are feeling the pressure to look perfect online and are using applications to brighten their teeth, remove blemishes and slim themselves before posting the perfect picture of themselves…. Which is no longer hardly them at all. The media has already been creating unrealistic ideals of beauty for years but now teens are setting impossible beauty standards for themselves.

The article offers the following suggestions to parents who see their children using these apps to “perfect” themselves:

·      Talk to your kids about the validation they get from their peers and how it should never be defined solely by their looks.

·      Ask your child, “What does it feel like when you change your photos like this?” Striving to look “perfect” can weigh heavily on us. We all have imperfections, and it’s high time we embrace them.

Selfies were meant to be quick snapshots that capture fun in the moment. Too often, teens and even adults find themselves taking multiple snaps because they don’t like the way they looked. Now, some are even making use of these apps to reconstruct themselves digitally to be closer to perfect.

We learn about protecting our online identity from others but it is important to protect ourselves from our hardest critic, ourselves! In creating a true identity for ourselves online we are modeling authenticity for our children. We can help them to realize it’s ok to be who we are (unedited and app free) and that each and every one of us is beautiful in our own way.