Elizabeth Bott

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I have had my nickname, Lizzy, for as long as I can remember. My brother could not pronounce my full name, Elizabeth, so Lizzy was born. Therefore, my identity has been split for most of my life. I hold positive and negative connotations with my names. Typically, my full name was reserved for family, legal documents, and rare occasions when my chores were not completed. Lizzy has become my go-to name for friends, family, and myself. To this day, I still introduce myself as Lizzy, but I would not be myself without either. Both of these unique identities make me who I am. I have concluded that my online identities fit their real-life usage, but combined they just highlight the surface-level aspects of my life, leading to a false portrayal of myself online.

Finding my Data Identity

"Elizabeth Bott"

I began my search with my legal name, ‘Elizabeth Bott’. I was not surprised by what I discovered. The only result that came up on the first 3 pages of Google that pertained to me was my LinkedIn. Additionally, not a single image of me appeared on the images tab
First page of Google Image search results for "Elizabeth Bott" -- there are no images of me.
. The information shown publicly within LinkedIn pertains to the academic and professional accomplishments I have made – information someone would expect to find if visiting my page. The only real information surmisable that was not academic or professional related is my connection to the club HackBlue. This club teaches computer science concepts to underprivileged youth, which could emphasize a possible passion outside of academic and professional activities.

Since LinkedIn was the only result for my legal name, this limits someone’s ability to gain any real insight into what I am about. All of the data that is publicly accessible on the site are nuggets of information intentionally and purposely placed by me, much like my resume (which I would freely hand-out to anyone). I think it is very interesting that the only result was a professional/academic-based site, which fits with the identity I hope to portray with my legal name. Growing up, Elizabeth was saved solely for these professional, serious scenarios, so it follows that my LinkedIn would be the main search result. Overall, I was not particularly shocked by any of the data uncovered with my query, since all of it was deliberately place by me.

"Lizzy Bott"

On the other hand, the results for ‘Lizzy Bott’ were much more expansive: almost the entire first page and part of the second, as well as a good portion of the first page of the images tab
First page of Google Image search results for "Lizzy Bott" -- a good portion of the photos are of me or my friends.
. All of my social media accounts appear on the front page. This includes accounts like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Through these accounts, information like my name, grade, university, social media friends, as well as real friends, all are easily visible. With something like my public Instagram account, all of the 147 photos I have posted are visible to any prying eyes. With a little bit of digging, my hometown, as well as my current location, could be deduced. This is a shocking addition because when I posted, for example, a graduation photo in front of my high school, I never consciously thought about the underlying information surmisable from the photo.

Interestingly enough, my LinkedIn also popped up with this query. This is odd and a little concerning, because nowhere on my profile is the name ‘Lizzy’ mentioned. Consequently, Google determined that even without a matching name (which is surprisingly not that unique), this link provided a high enough score on their Page Rank algorithm to list it high on the results page. I think that the results found under my nickname were fitting with my associated personal identity. The inclusion of my social media connects with the usage of the name. It is mostly friends and family who follow my accounts, and accordingly, they are the ones who utilize my nickname. Like the last search, there was nothing with this query that I did not already expect to find.

Combining the Results

The most surprising thing about Googling myself is that there was not much out there about me. Combining the results from both of my queries would only take up about a page worth of results on Google. I had expected the internet to hold more of my secrets. Furthermore, the combination leaves me with the exact same results as my nicknames alone. The query ‘Elizabeth Bott’ added absolutely nothing to my overall data identity. That is definitely not what I had expected. I had assumed there would have been more of an equal split between the two. But the combined identity still does not check all my boxes.

Who Am I?

Most of the information available about me was a very surface-level scope. My LinkedIn is nothing more than what I put on my resume. While I would hope that the information found portrays a certain level of my character, there is more to me than my academic and professional accomplishments. If we shift to my Instagram, I only post photos about once every few months. The older I have gotten, the more I have moved away from using the app. Therefore, academically, professionally, and socially, there is an incomplete picture of me being painted. Almost always, people portray an ideal version of themselves on their feed. My account highlights the fun activities and events I have done with my friends, the vacations I have taken, the exciting moments: all of which are sparser thanks to Covid. But, like LinkedIn, there is so much more to me than my Instagram feed shows.

One example of something small yet crucial being absent from my online identity is that I have been missing two of my front teeth since first grade. Thankfully, due to years of braces, retainers, and flippers, it is impossible to tell unless I specifically mention it. This is not a very serious example, but it is the struggles like these that actually crafted who I am. Going through difficult experiences, like my missing teeth saga, has made me resilient. That trait is obscured from my online identity. Even something as simple as the tears shed over a class are erased from view. LinkedIn shows the final product, not the process. The pre-covid events and vacations were incredible experiences that helped mold my view of the world; however, those experiences are not everything that makes me who I am. I think my online identity shows a peek under the veil but not the whole picture, and unfortunately, not having the full image can lead to problems.

Final Thoughts

From this assignment, I discovered that there really is not that much information online about me. This is mostly due to personal choice. Growing up, I was always told to keep my social media presence light-hearted and ‘PG’, as you never know who is looking. Knowing this is a little bit relieving but opens the door for other issues. With the increased reliance on social media and the internet, there is definitely an assumption that what you see is what you get. I certainly have fallen victim to this mindsight.

I like the persona I have on the internet. It shows my diligence, friendliness, and my drive for success. These are all great qualities that I hope people get out of my data identity, but not a complete representation of my self-identity. Life is not sunshine and rainbows, and that is what my data identity portrays to the world. Everyone is different, and I would hate for someone to make a snap judgment based on information that does not fully represent me. I think it is important to take what is found online with a grain a salt. It is rarely the full story.