What Do Your Digital Footprints Say About You? | Nicola Osborne | TEDxYouth@Manchester

What Do Your Digital Footprints Say About You? | Nicola Osborne | [email protected]

Translator: Lam Nguyen
Reviewer: Denise RQ What do your digital footprints
say about you? What do I mean by digital footprint? I mean all the stuff that we leave online,
the digital tracks and traces, the stuff that makes up
other people’s perception of who we are, as well as our own. Some of those things are really visible,
and some of them are really invisible: the things that you’ve watched, the trail of things you’ve watched
on YouTube that recommends something else. Some of them are things
like your search history, but lots of the things
that we leave online is stuff that are entirely
within our control and are about our own creative process. So I want you to start off by thinking about what the last thing
that you shared online was. This might’ve been two or three minutes ago,
hours ago, or days ago. What was that last thing that you shared? It might have been something
on Facebook, on Snapchat – I know I just protected
Tweeter automatically because I’d like to be a little bit smug
when I’m speaking – but what was that last thing? What does that thing [say] about you? If someone’s looking at that,
what does that tell you? Does that tell them what you are
or about your interests? Maybe it says something
that’s really positive or quirky. So again, I’m being a bit smug,
This is baking a bun. Maybe it shows that you’ve an interest, maybe it shows that you do
a particular kind of job, maybe it shows a particular kind
of hobby that you have, or something really positive
you’d really want to show to the world. So if someone looks at that, you’d think, “Brilliant.
I recognize that person as myself. And I think that’s what I’d like
to portray to people.” Maybe you’re portraying
different parts of yourself to different kinds of audiences, even having different rights by having different kinds of identities
for different kinds of contexts. So you can present yourself in sort
of on-stage ways and off-stage ways. Just being off-stage and coming on stage –
It feels very relevant right now. But sometimes you have to have
different kinds of identities, and they don’t always
stay totally separate. In fact, some of the things
you share online, maybe they’re not presenting you
exactly how you’d want to do it. So, this is my polite version of sharing something
slightly inappropriate online. This is my cat Godfrey.
He’s on Twitter and Instagram. Please don’t judge me. Or judge me. That’s OK. You might be sharing stuff you don’t
really intend to get a wider airing. Godfrey’s not to embarrass,
although I have to say I didn’t ask his consent to use
his image, which I really should’ve. But maybe something gets out of hand; maybe it goes to an audience
you don’t expect it to get to. Then your identity starts to be
this slight model of things intended for different kinds of audiences. You get this idea of context collapse where your friends, your colleagues,
people who you run with, people who you’d create craft with maybe,
all converge in the same space, they all start to see
different parts of your identity. And that’s quite challenging; and when you’re sharing on social media,
that’s really likely to happen. Your parents might be on Facebook. People you don’t know might interact
with people who you do know when you’re sharing stuff
in anonymous spaces. You have to be thinking about what that identity is projecting about you
and what you want it to project about you. It’s not about what you share
and where you share it, it’s also who you share it with;
you can choose, but most of us don’t choose to. We’ve been doing some research
with students at University of Edinburgh, and we’ve been asking them
to tell us how they use social media, how they think
about their identity online, and 61% of them very, very rarely
check their privacy settings. And five percent of them have found
something online they did not want to see. They thought it’s been taken away,
they didn’t think, they posted it. So privacy settings, who you share with,
and the circles you share with, matter. You share to these networks,
they share further on. You have control of that, but most of us
choose not to exercise that. And that’s kind of interesting. So we have these footprints. We have these things that are visible
and these other things that aren’t. We also create other people’s
footprints for them, but we don’t always think
about it that way. So we have in all these social media
platforms the ability to tag people. That’s great. That’s lovely. You can say
you were all in the same place. It’s really good until you turn down
this one invitation to do something quite important, and someone tagged you
in an event somewhere else. That’s not so great. Someone tagged you in a photo,
and it’s not a good photo, Sometimes it has a serious consequence; a lot of training teachers,
particularly in the US, have found that pictures of them drinking – not drinking underage,
just drinking in their 20s – have been enough to impact
on their employment potential, because that’s an image that employees
don’t want to have of them. Sometimes it’s much
less important than that; someone says, “You haven’t got me
at the right side,” “I don’t like that picture,”
“That picture is not very flattering.” That matters too though;
you have to respect people’s wishes. We still try to figure out this etiquette
about what we tag, what we share, how our digital footprints
are constructed, and how we’re constructed
by other people every day. So again, when we did
research about students, 11% of people said they had been tagged
in an unwanted way in a photograph. Eleven percent; that’s a huge number. And again, thinking about
that seriousness potentially – there’re some professional
bodies and things that from the moment
that you start university, sometimes even before that, your presence online actually
is part of your professional identity. Student nurses are asked
from the day they start university to consider themselves a professional. That is how they’re supposed
to present themselves online. That’s a really big ask, I have to say. So, the stuff you’re sharing now,
the stuff you share everyday can have long-term consequences. The thing is though
that I’m sounding a bit scary; I love social media,
I’m on all of the social media. If you Google me,
you will find me all over the place. I totally love these things. They are creative, fantastic tools. They are like a big,
giant yarn shop for anonymity. And it’s a huge suite of things
that are creative, and wonderful, and create marvelous things. I’m not going to dissuade you
from getting that stuff up. There can be really good things
about being present online. Again, with our students in the research, 16% of them had had approaches for jobs,
for volunteering opportunities, because of having a presence online. I’ve had professional opportunities
because I shared cooking pictures. It can be really fantastic
to build up your network. It’s a really positive thing as long as you’re being deliberative
and thinking about what you’re doing. Because once something is out there,
it’s really hard to get it back. These things go out of hand,
they grow, they network – you end up with this big tangle of things. If you want to take back a post: you might delete it in one place,
it might’ve been copied to somewhere else. If you want to get something removed, you might have to ask your friends
to forget it was ever there, and to remove a screenshot of it, as well. It’s not that easy to take stuff back
once it’s out there. It’s not impossible. The stuff I posted
when I was a teenager online – just about young enough to expose
the stuff online when I was a teenager – that has disappeared. Some of that I’m pleased about,
are some of this I really missed. But you have to assume
stuff will stick around a little bit. And trying to get it back is difficult. So I want you to think ten years ahead. It’s 2026. I have no idea what state the world is in
– especially after the last few weeks. Think ahead, it’s 2026: what does the digital footprint
of the stuff that you are leaving now say about you? Is it saying the right things?
Is that history of you? Because we will all have a history of us
recorded in lots of different places. What does that say about you?
Is it what you want it to? And when you post something next time,
I want you to think about that; about this thing I’m sharing,
this post, this comment. It might be silly.
It doesn’t have to be serious. Having a personality is 90%
of what social media is about; being fun and lively is fine. But think about what you’re creating. You’re creating something
beautiful and complex, like this Dale Chihuly glass sculpture. Maybe you can’t see everything; maybe a different audience
see different things. But interesting, and complex,
and a brilliant presentation of you – that’s what we need to think about when you think about making
a digital footprint for the future. And I want you to think about that
when you’re thinking about how you deal with the stuff
you don’t want to stay online forever; just to be thinking
about the long-term view of it. It might be ephemeral,
it might stick around forever, but always to be thinking, “How do I make my digital footprint
to say the right thing about me?”, and “How can I make that
a choice that I’ve taken control of?” Thank you. (Applause)

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3 thoughts on “What Do Your Digital Footprints Say About You? | Nicola Osborne | [email protected]

  • Completely disagree with her. People don't follow you on social media to see who they think you are, they follow you to see who you really are. Tailoring your content to fit the narrative of someone else is a losing game, it's not being honest with yourself or others.

  • I completely disagree with her. When your a young teenager and you post something and ten year later you try to get a job they would not shoot you down because of that one thing.