Digital shadows

As we tweet, comment, like and post on walls, a shadowy digital version of us is compiled in cyberspace. It’s a virtual copy of ourselves with an appearance, personality and lifestyle.

It’s similar to the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

We’re creating that Truman who’s being observed, analyzed and monitored online. We are under constant scrutiny from people we know and even those we don’t.

This digital me is being scouted by potential universities, then by potential employers, advertisers and in some cases, sketchy people (not to be confused with people who like to sketch). The definition of ‘friend’ gets blurrier as the list grows and instead of staying in touch, friends become acquaintances who pop up on a home page. As a result we have more friends but very little time to establish meaningful relationships.

My digital identity is problematic, because I’m a troll—and not like the one that Harry and Ron saved Hermione from at Hogwarts.

I belong to a social group of trolls and we live in cyburbia. It’s a no man’s land where we converse with people whom we friend and follow. I roam around on websites such as Twitter and Facebook and traumatize people with my jokes and puns. I can’t stop. Social media encourages the digital me to be social … and I love it. But there are clear positives to having a digital identity. It was on social media sites that the recent uprisings in the Middle East were organized. In the disputed 2007 Kenyan elections, the open-source information-gathering software Ushahidi compiled eyewitness reports via text messages.

But the real question is: is privacy a thing of the past?

The fact is that everything on social media defines you. In recent months there have been reports of Facebook activity being used as evidence in court and to track down criminals. It’s getting tougher to be anonymous on the web.

But there is a forum for Queen’s students to share anonymously. Started by an anonymous student this past year, Undergraduating Queen’s has become an outlet to share events and stories from around campus. Undergraduating Queen’s can be seen Tweeting on Twitter, blogging on tumblr and growing on Facebook.

I am a troll and we are not a dying species. In fact, we’re breeding.

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