My data identity doesn’t capture a holistic view of who I am; most of the data that can be found online about me reflects a younger version of myself, and the more current data about me only reflects the information that I’ve curated for job recruiters to see. The first three results when I google search “Emily Choe” are my LinkedIn, my Her Campus profile, and my Facebook. Two of these I haven’t touched in years; my Her Campus profile consists of cringey articles I wrote during my first two years of undergrad, and my Facebook account is so out of date that my profile picture is a photo of me with an ex-boyfriend from two years ago. Needless to say, the results from a quick google search don’t reflect the most accurate or representative picture of who I am— especially not my twenty-two-year-old self.
The relevant part of my data identity reflects the professional facet of me, and the only reason it's there is that I had to curate this identity to get a job.
The most relevant or recent data about me is on my LinkedIn; it shows where I work and where I go to school. From this, you can infer a lot; I’m interested in UX Research & Design; I know how to code; I was a ballet student at the University of Utah before transferring to the University of Michigan to study UX Design; I studied abroad; from my volunteer experience, you could guess that advocacy for survivors of sexual assault is something that I care about. Despite all of this information, the polished presentation of my LinkedIn doesn’t tell you everything. For instance, I’m actually pretty terrible at Spanish despite living in a Spanish-speaking country for eight months and being three credits short of a Spanish minor. (Which I’m not sure I’ll finish, because like I said, I’m terrible at Spanish.)
My Portfolio Website
On my LinkedIn is a link to my portfolio website. This is pretty similar to my LinkedIn, considering I made it for recruiters to see my past work when I was applying to jobs. Here, you can read my elevator pitch about why I love UX research and design, as well as see some of the projects I’ve gotten to work on. This provides more context to my LinkedIn, such as exactly what I did in my current research role. Half of the projects on my portfolio I don’t even like, and I never talk about them during portfolio reviews. They’re mostly there to bolster space and show that I’ve worked on more than two projects, even if I only think that two of them are actually good. Even on the website that I built and designed myself, there are parts of it I wish I didn’t have to share.
My “About Me” page of my portfolio website can link you to my Spotify, where you’ll find that I listen to a lot of Taylor Swift. (Don’t judge me.) What’s interesting about my Spotify data is that I’ve kept the same account since 2013; all the playlists from different periods of my life have become time-capsules of what music resonated with me at the time. As far as my music interests and what podcasts I listen to, Spotify is pretty accurate. This makes sense; I interact with Spotify every day for most of the day. I’m making new playlists all the time, whereas I can’t remember the last time I posted on Facebook.
Circling back to the other top two hits on my Google search, my Facebook and Her Campus profile, these both provide information that’s out of date. They provide a good reflection of who I was in high school and early in my undergrad, but they wouldn’t tell you a lot about who I am now.
Her Campus is a college club that hosts an online magazine where college women publish articles. I joined Her Campus my freshman year and published a new article every week, but I stopped my junior year of college. I still enjoy writing and keep a journal for personal use, but it isn’t one of my main extracurriculars anymore. My Her Campus profile has a biography that shares a little bit about me: that I’m a feminist, I enjoy writing about love and relationships, and I’m interested in the beauty industry. Most of this is still true, I just don’t think those are the first things I’d share about myself now, or the topics I’d choose to write about. The short introduction I have on my portfolio website, or the short blurb I have on my ‘About Me’ page, is a much better description of how I see myself in the present. These articles show what was relevant to me at the time: skincare, navigating romantic relationships, and makeup. These are all still a part of my life now, but again, I think I’d choose to write about something more relevant at twenty-two. Reading over some of these articles makes me cringe, whether it’s at my writing style, the opinion I’m sharing, or even that I dedicated an entire article to a certain topic. I’ve kept them there because I’ve always seen the value of writing personal pieces as capturing a perfect snapshot of who you were at a specific point in your life, that’s why I’ve kept a journal since I was twelve. I’d feel like I was deleting precious memories; erasing a piece of work that I was proud of at the time. However, I don’t love that my Her Campus profile comes up as the third result when someone Google-searches my name, the thought of someone reading through them feels embarrassing. Still, I’ve never taken them down, and I’m not sure many people care enough to dig through and read them.
My last proper Facebook post was in December of 2014 when I was a freshman in high school. Since then, I’ve updated my profile picture and cover photo once in May 2019. If you aren’t friends with me on Facebook, you don’t have access to most of my photos. If you did, you’d see a lot of content about ballet; photos of me in ballet costumes; photos of me performing; photos of me at the studio. Ballet was how I spent virtually all of my time outside of school, so this paints an accurate image of who I was in my adolescence. Obviously, I’ve changed a lot since then. I stopped dancing in 2018, so my Facebook doesn’t reflect anything regarding what I’m doing now. I’ve thought about deleting my Facebook several times, and most of the time, I forget that I have it. I don’t even have the app on my phone. I’ve kept it mainly because sometimes other applications will ask to verify my identity through Facebook, and a few pages that I use for college clubs have been held on the platform. It’s more convenient to have it than to delete it.
If I use more specific parameters in my search, such as my Instagram handle, @emchoe_, I can find slightly more relevant information. Since my Instagram account is private, my profile isn’t very useful to someone who doesn’t follow me. My Instagram bio lists my pronouns and where I go to school, but you already knew that from the first Google search. Even if you did have access to view my account, it wouldn’t tell you a lot. I haven’t posted since October 2019. A lot of the same information is here that’s shared on my LinkedIn; I used to go to the University of Utah, I used to do Ballet, I currently go to the University of Michigan, and I studied abroad in Spain. You could try and see who I hang out with, but the photos are so old that I’ve lost touch in real life with everyone in my Instagram posts. If anything, my data identity shows that I’m not great at engaging with social media, or at least I haven’t been since about 2017.
I put all of this information out voluntarily; these are all social media accounts run by me. However, most of them are out-of-date and provide a clearer image of who I was in my adolescence and very little about who I am in my adulthood. The only up-to-date information online about me is through two platforms that I had to use to get a job; I only created my identity on these platforms because I had to. Social media used to be fun for me, I enjoyed posting content, getting likes, and sharing the best version of my life with Instagram followers and Facebook friends. In my adulthood, I’ve become a watcher on social media. At most, I like, comment, and watch people’s stories. I never post. This may be a reflection of what’s important to me at this point in my life; possibly, I’ve become less concerned with what my life looks like online, and more concerned with advancing my career. Once I graduate college and begin a full-time position, I'll probably be less worried about my LinkedIn and portfolio website. Possibly, I'll re-ignite my interaction with Instagram to stay connected to college friends, or maybe my online identity will become completely out-of-date.