Shi Ya Wong
I began my online presence at a young age. My family has had a shared computer and broadband internet since I was a child. As early as 2nd grade I remember rushing home after school so I could get online and play computer games with my friends. My digital imprint began when I first got a facebook account in sixth grade. Not many of my classmates had social media accounts at that time but I wanted to play the online games that were available on Facebook. Facebook was the main social media I used through middle school and high school. I did not have a smart phone until senior year of highschool so I missed out on other social media trends such as snapchat and instagram. Even though I have accounts on the typical social media sites, I am not very active on any of them and do my best to keep them private. However I am active on social media through other outlets. I have accounts on forums such as reddit and discord. These forums allow for anonymity through a online screen name. The increased privacy is a factor that contributes to my increased usage on these sites as opposed to traditional social media.
Searching for Myself
Legally my name is Shi Ya Wong but in an effort to americanize myself and assimilate into the country when I moved here from Singapore, my parents decided to give me the name Alex Wong. This distinction is clear in my online footprint. My professional accounts are often under the name Shi Ya, whereas my casual social media accounts are under the name Alex because that is what most people know me as. Doing a quick google search of both Shi Ya Wong and Alex Wong yields countless results of other individuals. I have a very common name making it very hard to pinpoint my online identity. When Alex Wong is searched on google the results are filled with information on the famous dancer that starred on “Dancing with the Stars” television program. The Shi Ya Wong Search brings a more varied result with a collection of other asian individuals. After not much success with google I proceeded to try to find myself on instant checkmate. Even with more details such as hometown and other clarifying questions, the website was not able to pinpoint my identity and history. Although my digital footprint exists online it is hard to track down due to how common my name is.
I try my best to keep my posting to a minimum and have all my social media accounts set to private. However if someone was an approved connection on my social media there is a wealth of information that can be derived from my profiles. A quick scroll through my facebook account lets you know where I am from, where I go to school, what music I listen to, and what activities I partake in. Through my posts you get a glimpse into my personality with details like what my political leanings are and what kind of humor I enjoy. If you dig far enough you can find common usernames that I use such as “wongio123”. With this information you can find my online profiles that are not linked to my name. A quick search of wongio123 yields my flickr, reddit, mangadex, and accounts on various music forums. Out of these profiles, reddit is my most used and therefore yields the most information about me. You can see the various sub communities I am involved in through the subreddits that I post in. My most frequented ones are r/uofm, r/csmajors, r/emo, and r/mma. These sites that obscure identity through a username provide a level of anonymity that is not present with traditional social media. AS a result of the anonymity users including myself are more inclined to share private details about ourselves. These private details are not as private when not attached to a real life identity. Although my traditional social media accounts offer a very surface level view into who I am as a person, digging deeper leads you to accounts that are supposed to be anonymous therefore more revealing of who I am.
A major component of my online identity is my involvement in the DIY music scene. DIY is a grassroots music community with roots in hardcore punk. Nowadays it encompasses many different music genres while maintaining the do it yourself attitude to booking shows and releasing music. I was first introduced to the music scene in high school through my favorite local michigan bands and I quickly realized that social media played a big role in the logistics of the scene. The main platform used has changed many times throughout the years, from myspace to tumblr and now to facebook. The internet has always played a crucial role in letting musicians organize, network, and advertise. I am the main manager for my band as well as the booking manager for the venue Metal Frat. You can see from my facebook profile that I am constantly using the platform to advertise and organize concerts using the events feature. Another benefit of facebook is the suggested friends feature. This makes finding people involved in the music community and networking with them easier. Without facebook booking tours without a booking agent would be near impossible. The internet provides a space for niche communities to exist and thrive while leaving a digital imprint of all who participate in it. Although this space is often less formal than traditional facebook, it is still carries an air of professionalism. No one wants to do business with a band that has a poor online reputation. As a result, the online DIY space has become a tool for those involved in the music scene to conduct business rather than a space to showcase our personal identities.
Due to the prevalence of my name and privacy settings it is very difficult to pinpoint my online identity on the internet. Even with access to my social media accounts only a surface level picture can be painted of who I am. There are many people I barely know on my social media so I am not very inclined to share personal details on there. However if you were to dig further and find my online aliases you can find a lot more personal information. This is because without a name attached to my profile I am more free to express my thoughts without judgement. This can be both a positive and negative feature of the internet. Freedom of speech allows people to truly express themselves but this can lead to echo chambers of hate. An example of this is the online forum 4chan. By design all the users are anonymous and can freely post regardless of language and topic. This has led to a culture of hate to develop within the community where other users reaffirm hateful speech. With the connection to my online personas a more detailed and complete digital identity can be built. However just like the surface level digital identity It is not a complete representation of who I am. Our identities are very nuanced and diverse and cannot be represented by static information recorded online.