Blog Post 1: Welcome to Class! Welcome to the Blog!

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the class blog for Professor Benzon’s English 105 course, Digital Identity!  I’m looking forward to a great semester exploring our course material with all of you. We’ll do a lot of interesting things with this blog, but for now, just take a moment to get set up with the blog, and to start exploring and thinking about some of our first texts.maxresdefault

  • First, subscribe to the blog using the form on the front page: enter your email address and click subscribe. You should receive an email with a link that you need to click in order to activate your subscription.
  • Then click on the comments link for this post and leave a message in the field that appears — use this as a chance to say hello and tell us a little bit about yourself, but you should also do some writing and thinking about our first text for Monday, Steven Edward Doran’s entry on “Identity” in the Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media. Doran’s essay offers a history and a theory of how several waves of digital technology have transformed identity. What strikes you as most important about the transformations he traces? What kinds of issues, questions, possibilities, dangers do they pose in your mind? Where do you see their impact today? You’re free to critically engage this material in whatever way seems important to you, as long as you ground your discussion in some quotation and close analysis of Doran.

Don’t forget to include your full name in the appropriate box as well so that everyone knows who’s who and I can give you credit for your work. If it’s your first time posting on a WordPress blog, I may have to approve your post manually, so it might not show up immediately when you post it, but don’t worry — it will be there soon enough!

Good luck — let me know if you run into any trouble. See you in class Monday!

Reminder: your response should go in the comments section for this post — click the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post. It should be at least 250 words, and is due by 11:59pm on Sunday, September 9th. If you have any questions, let me know via email.

12 thoughts on “Blog Post 1: Welcome to Class! Welcome to the Blog!

  1. Hello! My name is Peter Maeder, I am a sophomore from Washington D.C! I really enjoy trail running and hiking and hope to do an ultra-marathon this year!
    Doran’s essay on our mailable identities interacting with technology provides a strong analysis of the different shifts in identity coming from technology. The most striking part of these transformations is undoubtedly the change in performances put on virtually. For example, the early internet could be used without much performance of identity as it was mainly anonymous but as the technology progressed and social media came about technology has become something filled with performances by people to try and show their identity virtually. This highly accessible social media also can make people perform in unhealthy ways as it is rewarded to be seen as cool and popular causing increasing amounts of unneeded anxiety. Overall Doran does an outstanding job of portraying modern technologies impact on identity and how indispensable it has become for society.

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  2. Hello there! Just to give an insight into who I am I thought I should offer my own digital identity. Online, I am a poet, a musician, and a really opinionated person. I use my platform as much as possible to talk about important topics such as colorism or immigration. However, these identities are not characteristics my peers would characterize me as. As Doran explains in his writing, “In the featureless vacuum of the web, people were whoever they said they were”, he touches on the fact that people may embody different identities online through simple dialogue and many people (like myself) do this without knowledge. The difference in the definition of identity over the years causes excitement but also fear for future use. Doran states that identity went from being a fixed and coherent phenomenon to fractured and fluid with the flourishing use of technology. This causes excitement for the simple reality that people can develop and discover identities they never knew they had and people that fit into these new identities. The internet does not confide people to communication among peers in their respective hometowns but opens a sea of possible relationships. With this extreme access to other people, there is pressure to become appealing or even “popular” to the entire world. The desire for attention that humans cannot control become emphasized and can exhibit itself in behaviors such as changing your identity online so more people can not only relate to you but want to be like you. This pressure can cause an abuse of platform and for instance make a white man want to seem like a “woke” black person online who tries their best to fit in with this demographic online. Due to the lack of experience this white man has of the African-American experience, the platform he creates online is not useful and very biased. The most important transformation Doran traces is the fact that physical and virtual realms can become confused due to the ability to change born identities with ease such as race or socioeconomic statuses. In my findings, the internet gives everyone a voice to put experiences and opinions out there in response to certain issues but these platforms lose their purpose once identities start to steer from the truth.

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  3. Hi everyone! My name is Jackie Ahn. I am a sophomore from Chicago, IL. I am an intended exercise science major with a minor in Education studies. I am on the Women’s tennis team here at Skid but I enjoy hanging out friends, hiking, and traveling! I believe that Doran’s piece on Identities is specifically analyzed from our use and impact from media technologies. Doran specifically defines identity as “the point where our sense of self is attached and I agreement with the subject positions created for us by society”. In relation to technology, Doran explains how the internet “has allowed users to manipulate and play with their identities as they interacted with others in theses virtual environments; they were able to safely experiment with parts of their selves that they would have typically kept hidden of that would otherwise be impossible to express. Of course, the internet is one type of technology that greatly alter one’s personality or self. I thought it was important how Doran described how people’s identities can change mentally and physically because we don’t realize how much technology can affect oneself until afterwards which can overtake the person’s ability to control themselves.

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  4. Hi. My name is Will Snyder, and I am a freshman from Portland, Maine. I play baseball and am interested in business and history. I decided to take this Digital Identity class because I am fascinated by the importance and the obsession over expressing yourself online. I believe that at this point in time, someone’s digital identity is more important than their real life, in person identity. The ease at which you can reach masses of people, and the rate at which people check in on your digital identity compared to your real identity make it the more important representation of yourself. In the real world, people are placed in subject positions without having much say as to where they belong. Online however, identities can be tested and changed freely without consequence. This is identity tourism, and allows people to choose their subject positions. This is the most appealing aspect of a digital identity: the ability to choose, change, and manage the identity that has the potential to reach the majority of the planet.

    The search for a different identity is human nature. From games like Dungeons and Dragons to a little kid playing baseball in his back yard envisioning he is Babe Ruth. But in the last couple decades, advancements in technology have been able to satisfy this search. As Doran writes, first it was chatrooms, then it was online games like World of Warcraft, and now it is social media: the perfect way to express yourself any way you want. Because of this, and the ability to easily reach millions of people, one’s digital identity is more important than their actual identity.

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  5. Hello everyone! My name is Lydia and here’s a little bit about me-

    I am a sophomore, and I have yet to declare my major but will most likely declare studio art! I am from Brooklyn, New York. I love unusual plants and online shopping, so feel free to chat about either of those things with me. I am very excited for this course and can’t wait to get things going!

    Doran’s essay on identity in response to social networking sites raises many questions for me. I actually found myself questioning many of the claims in this essay. Doran describes the era in which concepts of posthuman and the cyborg became increasingly popular. He writes “By positioning identity in the space between human and machine, both the cyborg and the posthuman reflect a significant break from, and challenge to, earlier understandings of identity that held it to be embodied, stable, and innate to the individual” (267). Doran then goes on to explain the concept of identity tourism–taking on identities that they do not occupy in the “real world”. While I certainly think it’s true that the posthuman/cyborg era complicated the understanding of the self, I don’t think the concept of faking an identity was born with the internet and creation of SNS’s. People have been ‘performing’ identity for ages, and sure, the internet gives an extremely easy and inviting platform to do so, but it is not limited to just that.

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  6. Hello everyone! My name is Eli Harris and I am a freshman from Toronto. I enjoy spending time with my friends, listening to music and looking at and buying clothing. In Doran’s writing piece on identity he attempts to explain the complexity of identity and how the digital age made an impact on identity as a whole. One of the most important subjects that Doran talks about in this piece is how the internet created a world where anyone could be who they wanted. “Since identity on the Internet had no necessary correlation to the embodied identity of the user sitting at the computer, people could elect to take on identities that they did not occupy in the physical world”. Doran explains that the internet created the opportunity for people to portray an identity that may not actually be their true self. This age of the internet creates such problems as identity fraud and what are the rules when it comes to this topic in the digital age. With the internet as such a powerful tool today people are seen through their online identity not their true identity. To conclude, Doran’s explanation of the history of identity and how it has changed showcases the way society has adapted to the technology era in terms of identity.

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  7. Hi, my name is JonMatthew Bile, I am sophomore here at Skidmore College, from Massachusetts, and I am majoring in Chemistry with a Biochemistry concertation. After reading, Steven Edward Doran’s essay titled “Identity”, the transformation of identity that interested me was the transition from the essentialist view that identity is “…fixed, stable, and… unchanging phenomenon contained within the body” to the online influenced idea of identity which Doran describes as “…disembodied, fragmented and fluid phenomenon…”. I had mixed feelings after reading this text. On one hand, the idea of having a stagnant or unchanging identity forces an individual to fall into a defined category of what type of person they can be, without giving the individual a chance to truly define themselves as they go through their constantly changing life and experiences. So, the online associated idea of identity where an individual identity is ever-changing provides an individual the ability to change as their life changes finding new ways to define themselves as they experience life. On the other hand, the online associated idea of identity where an identity is “disembodied” and “fluid” also has negative aspects. One is that an online platform, as described by the 1997 T.V commercial for MCI, where “There is no race … gender… age…” provides almost too much freedom for identity because it may cause an individual to continuously change their identity due to the influence of digital media instead of their own individual experiences. This is dangerous because the volume and magnitude the new ideas and trends are being delivered to the digital user through the media can cause users to change their identity with whatever popular media decides to advertise on any given day. Which, can cause individuals to get so far away from who they are as an individual that If social media was to be stripped from them, then their identities would be stripped away as well.
    Today, where social media and the internet are extensions of who we are as people, it seems only right that there is a lot of controversy around who you are, who you identify as, and what it means politically, socially, and internally to identify yourself. For me, the social aspect of identity is often the most interesting to me. Doran briefly spoke on this in his essay when he said “… society “interpolates” or hails individuals into certain subject positions ”. A subject position is the idea that whomever you identify as, whether it be as race, gender, or sexual orientation, that socially people expect you to act and live your life a certain way. This can be seen in the way that social and popular media depicts people of color as performers, athletes, and at times even criminals rather than as, intelligent, scholarly people. This is dangerous both for the people who identify as a person of color and for those who do not because when people of any identity see this and have not had the luxury of being exposed to many different people, may find themselves expecting that a P.O.C should act the way they are depicted in popular media, and if that P.O.C doesn’t act that way on social media they become confused and at times may even begin to question if the P.O.C is truly what they identify as because they “ speak white”, meaning they sound educated instead of using slang, or because they do not fit the subject position of what popular media depicts for a certain identity. This has very negative effects on the person of the said identity because society is now putting pressure on that individual to fit society’s expectation of what their identity is supposed to do rather than being who they actually are. Thus making the individual that has their identity questioned to choose between fitting in with the societal standards associated with their identity or establish their own identity away from societal standards and subject positions.

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  8. Hello everyone! I was born and raised in the Bay Area of Northern California. Eight years ago, my family moved across the country to upstate New York, where I have lived ever since. I am a sophomore studying neuroscience and hope to attend medical school after I graduate. I am active in the Ultimate Frisbee and Outing clubs and enjoy hiking, dancing, and meditation.
    In his piece on identity, Doran outlines several major digital advancements that have transformed the way in which individuals portray and experiment with their identities. While all these advancements have been extremely influential in their own way, I view the emergence of social network sites as the most significant in shifting peoples sense of identity. This was one of the first major clashes between individuals’ online and offline lives, allowing them to construct online profiles that mirror their “real-life” identities. On page 268, Doran describes this shift in online presence as, “less a matter of identity construction and more an issue of identity management.”
    This issue of “identity management” raises many questions and potential dangers in modern society. In a time where many teens and young adults constantly share their every waking thought and action on social media platforms such as snapchat and twitter, I start to ask, “how much is too much?” At what point does the time and effort put into “managing” your online identity hinder your ability to thrive in your everyday offline life? Our generation specifically, as well as those that come after us, may struggle with maintaining a balance between managing online identities and making the most of the vast opportunities our offline world has to offer.

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  9. Hi! I’m Taylor and I’m a junior from Cromwell, CT. I am a very competitive person and my favorite pastimes are watching as well as, playing sports. In the reading, “Identity”, Doran makes a point about the emergence of the internet and the role it plays in identity. He states, “Since identity on the internet had no necessary correlation to the embodied identity of the user…people could elect to take on identities that they did not occupy in the physical world.” Immediately I thought of the new dangers that internet users are faced with. The emergence of the web resulted in the heightened risk of being scammed, catfished, hacked, as well as many other dangers. American politics are also being impacted by the digital age. The choice explosion, in the late 1980s and continuing today, gave Americans the platform to choose how and when they consume media. The choices made in which media to consume plays a role in your indentity. Many studies have shown that when given both pro-attitudinal and counter-attitudinal articles on the same issues people will believe their bias to be the truth. In reality, this digital age in which we can change our identity on the internet it makes false news rampant. Overall, Doran’s article provided me with the insight on why many of these issues mentioned have become rampant in the digital age.

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  10. Hello! My name is Kira, I’m a junior from San Francisco. I like podcasts and cilantro is my favorite herb. I’m an art history major.

    I think what’s really interesting is how the intangibility of our identity easily allows for its manipulation. Because our identities are ever-changing and highly subjective, technology and the digital world are more easily able to how we think and act. In the same vein, Steven Edward Doran argues that “as our bodies became integrated with new technologies, so were our identities becoming hybrids with elements of both physical and virtual realms” (267). Our identities no longer exist exclusively in a tangible reality. There is now a deeply-ingrained part if us that is manifested only in a physically-inaccessible digital world. As a result, we must learn to reconcile who we are in real life with with our carefully-curated online persona. But will there inevitably be a time where we are no longer able to acknowledge the compartmentalization of our identities and will mistake our digital identity for our real identity? Will we be “hybrids” forever, or will our minds and actions eventually become completely invested in the digital world? What role does compartmentalization play in the formation of our sense of self? Doran expands on his notion of hybrid identities as he speaks on the “unparalleled opportunity to ‘play with’ one’s identity and ‘try out’ new ones” (267). While the ability to try out new identities may allow for one to become more familiar with all different components of themselves, this ability may also encourage one to hide certain aspects of their identity.

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  11. Hii! Im Emily and I am from Manchester, NH. I am an RA, on SCEMS and on the swim team here at Skidmore. I absolutely ADORE dogs! I have a chocolate lab puppy named Frank!!!
    The transformations of technology lead first to construction, then to experimentation, and finally to management of identity through social networking.
    Hiding behind a screen gives people a chance to generate a piece of themselves through which they can communicate with others. When Stephan Edward Doran states, “from its earliest days, identity- specifically its construction and performance-played a central role in people’s use of the internet and of the World Wide Web” (267), he establishes that this new technology paved the way for people to create different versions of themselves. Using the words “disembodied” (267), “untethered” (267), and “representation” (267), Doran demonstrates the construction of these varying personalities online, as pieces of the whole person. These pieces then may be subject to development of a new persona through experimentation.
    Embracing another identity gives people the opportunity to see different perspectives, however, not actually living the day to day life, may create a false sense of understanding. Stating “experiencing, even virtually, the marginalization of an alternate identity can provide users with a greater sense of empathy and understanding of what it’s like to be someone with less privilege” (268), Doran shows that experimentation can be a force for good. Unfortunately, experimentation can lead “to diminish or dismiss the marginalization of subordinate groups” (268). This diminishing and dismissal display the downside to experimentation due to a continued lack of understanding. This misunderstanding can lead to assumption and actions taken in real life.
    Social networking facilitates management of social identity. When Doran states, “text-based and avatarial modes of online presence highlighted the importance of identity construction on the internet, SNSs draw attention to identity management and performance” (268), he reveals that social networking causes people to have to manage their own online identities rather than develop them face to face. This management creates false portrayals of themselves.
    The false pretenses of these identities can cause problems in face to face interactions. People are often unable to live up to their online expectations which can cause problems in day to day life. Online personas can also coerce people to attempt difficult tasks that they typically would not do in the present time. Management, experimentation, and construction can be more detrimental than beneficial to society, for the repercussions for misinterpretation and extreme behavior damage more than social experimentation heals.

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  12. Greetings, I’m Mario Tomar and I come from Portugal. I am a sophomore student and enjoy watching movies and swimming.

    Steven Doran attempts to discern the meaning behind ‘identity’ as concept while projecting the many ways which information technology and the digital sphere continue to provide it with new meanings. Doran seems to show a tendency to place the creation and award of identity on the cultural and social spheres, and the subsequent interactions in-between. Though I conceive the idea of society playing a dominant role in this process especially when considering the highly socially-integrated nature of human beings, I also agree with the idea that there are certain components of our identity that quite simply come as ‘default’; aspects that cannot be given to us or that we cannot easily change about ourselves, but simply come to us as we are born like complexion, physical condition or height. Often these factors come with their own social markers and may easily affect our experiences and other’s outlook of us. This idea tilts closer to Stuart Hall’s essentialist theory of a fixed and less fluid identity. However, this is not to deny the fluidity and ease which one can play and make use of different identities. Computer-mediated communication has definitely narrowed the limitations that often restricted people from exploring and performing identities, especially ones not native to us. The upcoming tools introduced by Doran such as the avatars, MUDS, or the most recent social media platforms like Instagram or tweeter, do pertain a new perspective to how one can project their sense of self online. It is with great excitement that these new possibilities are welcomed. However, I find that the ease to curate and project one’s sense of self in the digital sphere possibly exalts an opposing tone to the generally accepted concept of identity. As anyone can go into metamorphose and claim an open range of markers and characteristics, what truly demarks identity as something unique and singular might evade in value. One may lose touch with their sense of self, considering the continuous addition and deletion of markers portraying different identities.

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