Thing 5: Diversity

My Bitmoji avatar

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I was introduced to Bitmoji by my daughter some time ago. I was initially somewhat dismissive of the application; I figured it was merely another, outwardly innocuous, outlet for one’s vanity. One must question whether there is a need for an avatar in the first place. Once this question is answered in the affirmative, then things like Bitmoji or Apple’s diverse emojis are completely necessary to ensure that all people feel included and able to express their identities; not just racial/cultural, but also more nuanced elements of their personalities and preferences. But, as Tutt (2015) states: “What Apple has done is introduce race into everyday conversations where it doesn’t necessarily need to be”(para.2). I have to concur. One can no longer be truly anonymous and judged only on the quality of their online contribution. Bitmoji seems to be an extension of this. Does greater freedom to express ourselves actually equate to increased pressure to be something that we are not?

I think there is a potential for essentialism and for users to present idealised versions of themselves. I think this is an extension of a broader concern regarding the pressures that people, teenagers in particular, feel to look a certain way. One could contend that avatars have been in existence for as long as social media has been. Instagram has inbuilt features that allow users to alter their images to present themselves in an idealised fashion. Of course, photos can be modified using Photoshop as well.

Does Bitmoji foster diversity? Or, does it provide another avenue for users to further distance themselves from reality, and the reality of their existence and embodiment? These are real concerns for me now, as my daughter enters into her teenage years. She is bi-racial. She has made an avatar that is more “representative” of herself. I hope she is strong enough to hold on to her sense of self. Having said that, I found it extremely difficult to “be myself” when I was a teenager, and this was during a time when the internet was in its infancy.

 

Tutt, P. (2015). Apple’s new diverse emoji are even more problematic than before. The        Washington Post. Retrieved    from https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/04/10/how-apples-new-multicultural-emojis-are-more-racist-than-before/?    noredirect=on&utm_term=.f1f3bfc21e37

Thing 4: Digital Security

I investigated the extent to which my location was being monitored, and was alarmed to discover that a number of apps were tracking me constantly. I can’t really see the benefit in my location being monitored around the clock. Therefore, I changed the location monitoring settings for some those apps to  “while using the app”, and for all others to “never”.

I have avoided posting on social media for some years now. I realise now, however, that it is a good thing to cultivate a positive social media presence. I intend to become more engaged, and perhaps join some groups to share professional information. Approaching social media with a professional mindset should enable me to control the image I present.

Thing 3: My digital footprint

I approached this task with some trepidation.  A number of FB posts I had made during a night of Bacchic excess had been causing me some discomfort of late. A simple scroll through my FB activity log quickly revealed the culprits. DELETE. On reflection, this all seems a bit too easy; I’ll investigate further as to whether the posts are actually gone. To avoid such anxiety in the future, I intend to engage more positively and professionally online.

A google search doesn’t yield much information relating to yours truly. However, what can be found quite easily is a non-fiction piece I wrote as part of a university assignment, back in 2010. The sentiments expressed in this naive tract showcase the extent of my 2nd year undergraduate critical thinking faculties. What I should do next is uncertain. The piece was never intended for public consumption. Would the owners of the site remove it if I asked? Considering their philosophy regarding artistic freedom of expression, this is doubtful. A more practical, and less sheepish, solution might be to actually get more writing published.

I think awareness of our digital footprints and the potential for posts, comments and the like to come back to haunt us is very important. While I do believe that we should be able to express our views freely without fear of retribution, I think the opposite is the reality. Separating private and public selves online seems like a futile task. If one chooses to share something on the internet, regardless of whether the item in question has been designated as being an expression of one’s private self, one can hardly expect a potential or current employer to make this separation themselves. A recent case in Australia has highlighted this very point. Google search “Cricket Australia”and “abortion” for more information.