Digital Identity and the neighbours


Creative commons  A British neighbourhood watch sign by unisouth is licensed under CC by 3.0

Over the last few weeks I have had an opportunity to reflect on my digital identity and to think about how I manage the information that I put out into the world. I must admit that I am still mostly at the lurking stage and often second guess myself as to what I want to put out to the world. As a rather private person, raised in a stiff upper lip British household it is not natural to draw attention to myself. “What would the neighbours think?” was a common line used in my childhood to describe any behaviour that seemed out of the norm. The idea being that you don’t want to stand out, that only brash and egotistical individuals constantly tell everyone what they are doing or thinking. With this in mind, I approached Twitter with deep skepticism and trepidation. It is a very vulnerable feeling putting your thoughts into cyberspace. I have often wondered how to overcome this reluctance, as try as I might, it is hard to reframe years of thinking.

As my group of followers grows, and begins to include experts in many areas, it becomes even more intimidating to put my thoughts permanently into cyberspace. Trying to decide on the persona of my account is also a concern. Do I want my employers to read the same things as my friends? Do my Masters colleagues need to know personal details or should I stick to informative articles? I know that some people have multiple accounts, but the idea of managing even more information in even more places is too much for me at this stage. I like Google Plus for its ability to put people in different circles. Why can’t Twitter do that?

In order to improve my identity I have so far changed my profile on Twitter, tried to check it and post daily. I have combed through the followers of people I admire and have found new people and new hashtags to follow. I am trying to set aside time each day to check feeds, post comments, and add to conversations. I am still more comfortable retweeting interesting articles and tweets than creating my own so my personal goal for this week is to try to post more original content- pictures from my class, ideas I think are important…. Who cares what the neighbours think!

A recent retweet on @_valeriei- Does Posting More Content Lead to More Engagement? New report tracks 2 years of data: made me think that perhaps the neighbours are so overwhelmed with their own data that they don’t really notice or care. Perhaps the key is not to create a giant PLN but instead a manageable one in which I feel supported and listened to and can make meaningful contributions that lead to active engagement.


4 thoughts on “Digital Identity and the neighbours

  1. Jane Rees January 31, 2015 / 9:59 pm

    “What would the neighbours think” speaks loudly to me also. Drawing attention to yourself was frowned upon in my years growing up also, probably a product of being raised by two teachers who were always giving to others. I like how you described creating a PLN which could support and listen to you. This is a different way of thinking about my network as I, too, seem to have created a world where I take more than I give, thinking “what do I really have to share?”. I have seen some of the innovative approaches you take to learning with your students, and I encourage and support you to share what is happening in your practice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Catherine February 3, 2015 / 5:05 am

    “What would the neighbours think?” forced me to reflect on an article, I once read in “Golf” magazine European’s play golf game (Ryder cup) in cultural manner vs. Americans cultural manner. Americans = ego driven and European’s more social.
    Point being, European’s more acceptable to feedback (strategy) on what went wrong with their golf game and how to fit their bad swing/game. American’s, not so much accepting to suggestions (strategy) break down of what exactly went wrong with say, short game. Sergio Garcia pointed this social/cultural, mannerism out during a Ryder cup tourney.

    So, beside cultures, share away… take away… follow your passion. I am your neighbor, I care you help me and other reflect on our practices. There will be a day I need to blog/write you and let you know, something just did not go correctly with a lesson. You will be there to share a picture/graph/research to point me/others in the correct manner to make the strategies work for the students and this will have a powerful positive energy into the future.



  3. Amy Lawson February 3, 2015 / 5:08 am

    ‘What would the neighbours think?’ sums up a lot of the feelings that I had when establishing my professional digital identity. It was funny, because I’ve been online for years – 1995? – with few reservations. For some reason, my professional side felt like the one that should be hidden away.

    In the past few years, I suppose I’ve shifted my thinking along those lines. The neighbours will think what they want and tell the story of “me” whether I’m present or not. Sharing my own teaching story online – my interests, my passions, my commitments – lets me present myself. The opinions will be there either way. This way, though, I have a voice in guiding it. It’s that mindset that encouraged me to establish a social media identity for my school as well, and the student buy-in has been interesting and encouraging.

    I had a debate on Twitter not too long ago with an education speaker who insisted that teachers not on Twitter were “cheating their students.” I’m a strong advocate for the power of Twitter, but have an equally strong objection to those words. It’s not about any particular tool or time spent; rather, it’s about giving yourself the chance to find ways to connect to other educators that works for you. Starting a blog and tiptoeing onto Twitter is a fantastic start, but I hope you’ll find exactly the tool that speaks to you. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


  4. n2teaching February 3, 2015 / 5:37 am

    It seems that you have understood the crux of the Personal or Professional Learning Networks, aka PLN. It centers on the nexus of our own lives. To agree or retweet is just as important as trying to put forward some original idea.

    Sharing connotes agreement or disagreement, and this is the beginning of discussions, projects, and dilineation. You seem to be right on track.

    Use your PLN to guide your discussion, and you’ll provide a great amount of original input. Enjoy!


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