11 Oct 2007

Who are we?

This is a very funny cartoon. Will our children be named after computer characters in the future? Or is this already happening? With all of our aliases and user-ID's, it can get hard to maintain ones identity.

But seriously, with all the identity management related problems, how can we keep ourselves from developing split personalities? I am sure many of us have already developed interesting sides of ourselves in parallel universes. I am aware of at least four or five identities of mine which may share traits but don't match entirely.

I am several people. Everyone is. But once we start roaming the electronic seas, we develop prolifically. In an online game I may be a really obnoxious person which in real life I generally ain't. Gaming is a very good example. How many of us are an entirely different being while gaming? You can be a clumsy shy real life person with an entirely cool avatar and who can tell what you really are? People often get trapped in their bodies - even though I never believed in the head-body divide. This works similarly with computers and communicating through them.

One of the truly new ways in which the human race is developing, gives us the ability to become part of communities which value us in an entirely different way from the perceived normal ways. You can be a highly valued scholar in a certain subject, even though you never acquired any formal degree for it.
But as always, the proof is in the eating, and sometimes the personalities have to meet. So it's perhaps a good idea to smuggle some personal traits into your avatars. Otherwise you get what I observed several years ago in a real life meeting with a group of chatters. One of the coolest people in the room turned out to be a very shy, quiet young man who never spoke during the entire evening. And afterwards, he was still very popular but in private some of his remarks were commented in the light of his appearance. Should he not have shown himself? Au contraire, he should have shown more of his personality in his online musings so the contrast would have been more understandable. After all, chatting is always also about showing those parts of yourself you rarely get to show IRL.

Similarly, the online teacher benefits from using her or his life as material for an e-learning presence. The chance of actually meeting students always exists and don't all of us want to be valued for who we are? Our personal story is full of interesting details that may not be of much interest to the people around us, but become much more interesting to those we know from afar. And students always want to know about their teachers, from high school classes and its iconic figures which everyone remembers to the public speakers we sometimes go to lectures from, who say things we hadn't heard before. So let them know who you are and who knows what the result might be?

No comments: