Hi, my name is Lauren Watsky. I love the name Lauren because it is all I have gone by, so I’m never unsure what to write at the top of my school assignments because I don’t have other nicknames. On howmanyofme.com, it can be noted that they claim there is only one Lauren Watsky in the United States. However, it may not be that accurate considering the data is estimated from statistical and demographic data from the US Census Bureau. As they say, it gives a “decent ballpark estimate.”
My relatively unique name has helped me to try to be a relatively private person online to match how I am in real life, however, I have succumbed to the constant social media usage struggle that many members of my generation also find problematic. That being said, I try not to overshare online because as my parents always said, “what’s online never goes away.” Thinking about that made me nervous to dive into my online data identity because I usually try to go with the “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” mindset. Overall, I have found that information that can be found about me online is accurate, yet it is not representative of who I am as a person. For example, while I consider my humor to be one of my best features, this is not a characteristic I can easily exemplify online. In addition, my online identity does not highlight the growth I have endured throughout my life both physically and mentally. The online information privacy aspect definitely concerns me and I’m hoping that there isn’t anything too personal out there. Here’s to figuring out what’s out there about me.
Google Search Results
Lauren Elizabeth Watsky
When I searched my full given name on Google, Lauren Elizabeth Watsky, none of the first page results were related to me. Since I have found an “Elizabeth Watsky” who is a photographer in Rhode Island, her photos show up. Therefore, the primary pages that show up are photos from Lauren & Mason’s wedding taken by Elizabeth. This content has nothing to do with “the real me.”
Here is where I retrieved information about myself, the Lauren Watsky from Farmington Hills, Michigan. The first 6 search results are a variety of my social media pages and the website to the Business Fraternity, Phi Beta Lambda, I am involved in on campus. The rest are LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. Much to my surprise, my Facebook page did not make the top results. Each of these are related to my real identity as they are pages I made myself (aside from the Business Frat website).
When looking up myself and clicking on the images, the first four are pictures of me which can be seen as a screenshot image on this page. However, the rest are primarily of George Watsky, who’s mentioned below.
I personally have never met anybody with the last name Watsky that was not a relative of mine, so I was curious as to what I would find by just looking up “Watsky”. The person who comes up is George Watsky, a musician, songwriter, record producer, poet, and author from San Francisco. He has 963,000 YouTube subscribers, so he seems relatively famous. This page is not representative of my personal identity.
Social Media Usage
One of the websites that shows up in the top 6 is YouTube. While the YouTube channel that shows up is representative of my identity in the sense that I created it, none of the content is representative of my current status. Each of the videos included on the channel were school assignments from when I was in middle school. In addition, my Pinterest account shows up, which I have not used in 2-3 years. There is little content on my Pinterest account since I follow 1 person, have 7 followers, and have used it only a couple of times (none recently).
Out of the top 6 search results, I do currently use the social media accounts associated with the top 3 that show up: LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. My LinkedIn is accurate and representative of my academic state with updated information on my experiences and education. It also shows anybody that looks me up my information since the account is not on private mode. The next link that shows up is my Twitter. While I frequently use Twitter as a source of information for news and humor, I do not often create my own content. I have rarely tweeted since high school and my pinned tweet is from the one time I was Twitter “famous” from my school ID photo. I keep my Twitter account public because I hardly tweet, and do not tweet anything inappropriate. Lastly, a link to my Instagram account shows up. I got the most satisfaction clicking on this one because I am private on Instagram, so there is nothing personal about the page that shows up except for a small circular profile photo. For anybody to further see my Instagram content, they would need to request to follow me, and I would need to accept it. I only accept people that I know or know of to protect my privacy.
How Accurate Was It?
While the information from the “Lauren Watsky” Google searches was for the most part accurate, as I previously mentioned it is not representative of who I am as a person. What shows up is information including (but not limited to): that I am currently a student in the School of Information, studying Information Analysis at the University of Michigan, that I am an incoming summer intern at PwC, that I have a private Instagram account with around 1700 followers, and that I have a public Twitter account featuring the one time I got almost 24K likes on a tweet. This shows who I am on paper, and almost reminds me of a virtual resume of myself. However, it does not truly show my personality or what I value most in life: my friends and family (aside from photos). In addition, it does not really show the growth throughout my life. It doesn’t show the struggles of starting college, dealing with mental health, getting my first job at a restaurant, or my religious transition into adulthood.
Personally, I am not too concerned with the information out there about me. While I wish there were fewer photos on my Facebook page, there isn’t anything else that jumped out as alarming while I was trying to reveal my digital identity.
The way people are perceived online is not a genuine depiction of them as people. Social media users often only post photos or words about themselves that put them in the best light. I personally am guilty of taking photo after photo until I find one that I like enough. In reality, I don’t really care but with the social pressures of social media, I conform to everybody else and try to highlight my best self even though this isn’t the reality of my life. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to distinguish between physical and digital identities, as mentioned by Floridi. Hence, as people continue to post their best selves, it will morph into the identity others believe they truly have.
Overall, my data identity that is curated online when searching “Lauren Watsky” in Google is relatively accurate. The majority of the top pages that show up are social media pages that I have made within the past 10 years. Though it does not reflect my humorous personality, it does show information about myself that I have primarily created and put out there. My data identity does not necessarily display who I am as a person, and I do not feel as though I have overshared my life online. Throughout my life, I have grown both physically and mentally. I worked extremely hard to get into the University of Michigan and worked even harder to get into the BSI Program for my major and the Ross School of Business for my minor. Neither of these accomplishments are particularly noted, especially how much time and effort I put in to achieve each. The “pattern” I saw over and over again within the elements of my online identity is that I did what I could do to show off my best self like many others are guilty of doing. Even though I am not so proud of the 6 year old YouTube videos I have explaining PEMDAS for 7th-grade math class.
Moving forward, I intend on being extra cautious with what I put online as you never know who is looking. I want to remain not concerned about the search results even though I do not believe the results accurately reflect my life and how I have grown as a person throughout. Considering how more and more aspects of day-to-day life are being put online, it is important to be conscious of one’s online identity, but also aware that it may or may not accurately reflect oneself.
- Floridi, Luciano. Information and Computer Ethics. Cambridge University Press, 2010.