Sometimes I feel I have the most basic name on the planet. I also often get my first and last name switched up by people who meet me for the first time. Seriously, I have had every professor call me Kelly at least once thinking it was my first name. When I was young, I felt that I had to be the most interesting person in the room to be memorable since my name was so common. The Western world places so much emphasis on individualism, and the online world has only accentuated this idea. Whenever someone makes a profile online, they have to consider how to best depict themselves in that context while also making sure they stand out. A huge way to stand out online is a catchy and memorable username.
T.kels, My Online Persona
T.kels is the username I use on all of my online profiles and accounts, including professional ones. It’s a name that has stuck with me since my freshman year of high school because that is when I started becoming active online. Once I took on that name online, my friends, acquaintances, and even some family members started calling me t-kels in real life. When people call me by this name I can’t help to think that they see the online persona of “t.kels" instead of me. Currently, I would not say that my online identity is the best representation of who I am in real life, but only because I haven’t updated a lot of my personal information online since March 2020. Not keeping up with my “t.kels” persona online has put me behind in pop reference culture and even professional advancements. Online identities are now necessary to interact and feel involved with the world, and if I want to catch up I have to find a way to distinguish myself on google, social media, and other internet platforms
Google, who is Taylor Kelly?
My first and last names are very common, especially paired in this order. When you type my name in the google search bar, none of the results are about me. The first page of results is a college football player with my same name. The next two pages of results are articles written about him and stat information from his glory days. Taylor Kelly, the football player, no longer plays football and he currently coaches a highschool football team in California. All of his google results are information from years ago, so how has he managed to stay the most significant ‘Taylor Kelly’ online? The sports industry has utilized the internet to create clear characterization of players to market and eventually profit off of them. This means that they could have paid to put players and their information as first results on search engines to stay relevant online. There are a lot of huge companies and industries that pay to be the first results on search engines because in today’s society it has become necessary to remain important on the internet if you want to be successful and make more money in the physical world. I do not want to pay money to become a number one search on the internet so my online name has become the first step of leaving my mark online.
Google, who is t.kels?
Before I explain my google results, I will explain the complications of searching this username. Each online platform has a different format for the username ‘tkels’. For example, on twitter my profile is ‘t_kels’ but when exterior businesses give me recognition they tag me as ‘t.kels’ (which is also my instagram). The username format with the most results was ‘t.kels’ because it is what I try to use on most professional and social media platforms. I typed in each variation of tkels that I have made in google and my accounts and recognitions were always the first results. I do not think this bothered me because my intentions with using this name is that it is recognizable and attached to the information I want to put on the web. However, I did notice a few businesses who identified with the name 'T Kels' and t’kel is the name of a fantasy creature in some online adventure universes. I find it interesting that some companies are identifying themselves with this abbreviative nickname especially since these businesses are in industries like management. When I hear or see this name I have seen it in a social context not necessarily a professional one, and that is why I believed I stood out for using this type of name in a ‘professional’ context. However, there are hundreds of thousands of online profiles and 2.5 quintillion bytes of data made each day, different people are bound to use the same name to identify themselves online.
I currently do not use social media, other than to scroll on my feed and catch up with the day. However, this was not always the case. I used to use my instagram and vsco to promote my artwork and collaborate with other artists. My social media was intentionally promoting my art AND displaying personal life journey because often the two were mutually dependent on one another. This also meant I could not share anything too private on my pages because I had them public to any and all fewers for potential exposure of my work. Not only did I post aesthetically pleasing photos(and videos), but the photos as a collection had to follow that same visual comfort in order to form my online persona.
My online persona is of a young girl who loves to experiment, create, indulge in nature, take spiritual journeys, and make people uncomfortable. These are activities that I like to indulge in and that have influenced who I am, but they do not make me, me. Today, social media is the best platform to share eccentric and complex qualities about yourself. There is always enough space to share as much as you want about who you are and what you are doing. Social media also carries a collective social tone unlike any other digital or non-digital platform where people can control how casual, formal or stupid they present themselves (with minimal/undeterminded consequences). Everyone has an online persona that they attach to a name/username, but why do we feel we need this? I believe it is because humans desire to be noticed.
The Necessity of the Online Persona
My definition of an online persona is the desired character you create for yourself that is influenced from being on display. Anyone on social media or with any kind of online identity has this. For example, businesses need a persona to appeal to consumers online just like people need a persona online to feel included or approved. To have an online persona is transactional because the purpose of this is to allow one to market anything from products to ideas to your own self. In exchange for exposing your persona and information online, a user gets to feel like they fit into society. Half of the world currently uses the internet and more and more are joining each day. If you want to feel included in what is happening in the world, you have to have an identity online. According to computer science researcher, Luciano Floridid, the internet is ‘re-ontologizing’ our world and it’s societies. This means the limitless opportunities of the internet is radically transforming how we understand and interact with information and data. The physical world and the online world not only coexist in reality, but they have become so interconnected that they are almost co-dependent. Without the internet there would not have been as many scientific advancements (due to lack of information accessibility), the economy would be in shambles, and billions of relationships and connections would have never been made. The majority of human advancement and connection today is happening online and that is why people feel they need to exist online. In the future, everyone will have an online data identity and everyone will want to be recognizable, whether that is through the content they share, ideas they speak or a username they choose.
After analyzing my online identity, I did not find anything shocking or unexpected. I think because I waited until I was a teenager to be involved in the online world, I was more careful and explicit about what information I wanted available about me on the internet. However, my biggest conclusion was how necessary having an online identity is. If I want to make new social, professional, or even personal connections I need to have and keep up with a specific online identity. This assignment actually encouraged me to start updating my social media and create more online accounts.
Even though an online persona is not completely accurate of who you are, I do not think it is a bad tool to have. An online identity allows one to share parts of themselves that they might not feel they can in the real world. This type of identity comes with the sacrifice of accessibility of extra data about themselves(yourself) more, but if most of the world is existing online this might not be an issue, but an advancement of society.
Flordidi, L. (2010). Chapter 1. In The Cambridge Handbook of Information and Computer Ethics (pp. 3-19). UK: Cambridge University Press.
Marr, B. (2019, September 05). How much data do we create every day? The mind-blowing stats everyone should read. Retrieved March 08, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/05/21/how-much-data-do-we-create-every-day-the-mind-blowing-stats-everyone-should-read/?sh=4d4b8d9060ba
Add social media icons to blogger. (2020, November 03). Retrieved March 09, 2021, from https://beautifuldawndesigns.net/tutorial-add-social-media-icons-to-blogger-step-by-step/