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My Identity in Bits and Bytes

The readings from my MA program are quite good. I especially enjoyed Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Jenkins, H (2009). It never really got me thinking about my own identity however, but helped me understand the challenges to employing digital media in education and what New Media Literacies and Skills have to be fostered in youth to make online and other digital environments useful for educational purposes. This I appreciate. As for my online identity though, I didn’t really feel it provided for any “aha” moments leading to goals and paths to follow to achieve them. Maybe it is because I’ve been online before being online was actually a thing… Or maybe it is because I appreciate the anonymity of cyberspace and the possibility of multiple online identities than fostering one that points all fingers at me as a 3D IRL aberration of some online persona.

Still, having stated anonymity and multiple identities as a much appreciated feature of Online Living, I do connect the dots from time to time for a select few, mainly, those who know the living breathing me. That identity is online too, on Facebook with 90% of content open to all viewers, but I only connect from there outward to my other identities, never in reverse. And that’s the beauty of the internet. I can be whoever I want to be, let some people who actually know me in on it and keep the rest firmly at bay. So, I’ll link to my blog posts or online comments from Facebook, but will never link back from those posts. This is comfortable.

By this point you may actually wonder what kind of identities I may be selectively fostering for the faceless masses while shielding myself from them. Well, it’s nothing too serious. I like to comment on politics, business, and China, and usually I do this through Disqus under a specific pseudonym. And then there are places like Reddit, where I’ve had a dozen or more handles, or YouTube, where I’ve been known to troll comments and have had to create a few log-ins as my channels get marauded and flagged by angry YouTubers… and lately, deleted by YouTube unfortunately. But that’s part of the fun of being online, no one really knows who anyone else is. It’s like a virtual costume party and everyone can be whoever they want to be without much fear of repercussion.

In the past, I got a little bit famous in China at least running my own China focused opinion site and a multi-user social blog site about Shanghai. In fact, at one point I was being invited to conventions and speaking at dinners as a result. But, being focused on China as a foreigner, is not really an easy place to be in here. I had been under contestant attack online for my un-PC posts (in China, being PC means following the Party line). I’d get death threats, have my sites hacked, and would have to respond to dozens of angry racist comments every week on my articles. In the end I had over 200 China focused articles published (not all controversial, some were just news stories) and had been cited and referenced in some mainstream news storys. For example, when I predicted the downfall and closure of MediaMarkt in Shanghai. And then Xi happened.

When Bo Xi Lai was purged and jailed I knew China was changing and I predicted Xi was going to be China’s new Great Helmsman, the new Mao. When it became apparent my irreverent take on China’s government, its South and East China Sea expansionism, and that posting pics of Xi as a pig may not be the wisest move, I decided to shut everything down and went offline in China for a couple years.

Now I am back. I have websites again. I have Facebook pages again. And I regret the loss of those sites as now I realize getting 10,000unique visitors a month on my site will likely never happen again. For one, I don’t have the time, and for two, I think I was really lucky back then, right place at the right time sort of thing. But since I am back, I do have some goals.

For one, I’d really like to flesh out my LinkedIn Page and use it for employment purposes. I actually manage my company’s account and just had a meeting with LinkedIn last Friday. They were kind of confused as to why, I as administrator do not even have my own profile linked to the company page and didn’t understand that putting your picture and all your work history on a publically accessed site is probably not the wisest move in this age of identity theft. I’ve just never felt comfortable doing that. So, although part of me would like to have a good profile, a bigger part of me would prefer to remain hidden. Incidentally, I also manage my company’s Facebook page, and no, I have not “liked” it. LOL

The thing about me is, I like to keep things compartmentalized. I like to keep work at work, home at home, Facebook on Facebook, and everything else in many other boxes. My colleagues don’t know who my friends are, my friends don’t know who my family is… well, you get the picture. Somehow, I feel that makes me more free…

So, back to my new plan, and here it is: I want to reestablish my old online writer identity. That’s what www.dat-lyfe.com is an attempt at doing and I want to keep business and colleagues using my real name. I don’t think I suffer from any skill or knowledge gaps. What I do lack is time however. When I was much more active online as a WebMaster and writer, it was eating up about 20 – 25 hours a week. I am grateful for my MALAT program getting me back into writing and part of my plan for fostering my real identity for business and colleagues is this through doing this program. But if I had more time I’d finally start that educational YouTube channel I joined Patreon to get sponsorship. I scripted the episodes and started to learn the animation software to do so, but just got too busy and side tracked… I’d also like to finally write a novel I got floating around in my head and put it online in serialized form… Oh, I just remembered, I used to have a photography site and all those photos are now gathering virtual dust… And my extreme biking video projects… I should get back onto filming bike sport… But wait! I want finish my Unity game and finally finish programming a language learning App for Apple OS and Android that I already started… And this list goes on. So, maybe I do have a weakness: My eyes are bigger than my stomach? Or maybe I just have to find a way to create multiple versions of my self, IRL 3D versions, instead of online ones.

Jenkins, H. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. MIT Press.

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