Danah Boyd wrote an interesting commentary on lying and safety.
It’s an older post, but one I came across in part because I was running along the same thread (but could never have voiced my concerns so well). It got me thinking. I wanted to come up with a better way for kids. A way that isn’t deceptive but actually could help them embrace their online identity while remaining safe.
The concept is an old one and it’s commercial. What would it be like if we taught kids to think of their online presence as their personal brand?
A brand could be something that would stay with them for the rest of their lives. It could also provide the anonymity central to safety. But more importantly it would never be a mask to stand behind, but rather something to polish and cherish. A brand is visual. A brand can elicit feelings and adjectives.
One could say that kids already have these, they’re called avatars. But how many students have considered it an extension of themselves? Part of them. Something that needed to be highly considered. If a student was given one chance to put their brand online and never change it, it would be a very different way of considering online presence. It might be one where people thought before they acted, posted, downloaded, trolled, bullied, etc. Because no one wants to tarnish their brand, and it’s a great alternative to putting up personal information.
A brand can grow to be as important as a name. This may be merely a subtle shift in thinking, but I have found that when I pause before I post, I tend to consider the various interpretations of what I’ve written. I try to protect my own brand.