How Does The Internet See You?

How others see us determines much of how they treat us, interact with us, and engage us. And while we can’t always control what they see, we certainly should be aware of it and make sure it is in line with who we are or what we hope to be.

Or for posers, what we are not but want people to think.

Sight is usually the first sense that starts collecting information about someone, however right or wrong it may be.

I have often wondered what images pop into my friends’ heads when they think of me.

I am constantly surprised when I ask them what they see because it usually maximizes one small part of me and minimizes others.

The Personas art project by Aaron Zinman, currently on display at the MIT Museum, shows how the Internet sees us in an artistic although mischaracterized way.

MIT Personas Art 2009
MIT Personas Art

The image above represents how the Internet sees the name jeff dolan. Of course, it is aggregating all the Jeff Dolan’s in the world, including my new online friend of the same name in Ireland who is strangely similar in artistic bent.

The yellow bar is sports. We must have some ballers in the family.

Other large areas include management, social, legal, and online, none of which are words I am particularly excited about representing me.

I find it interesting that the intangible yet important words are harder to apply to individuals without huge effort — loving, faithful, friendly, open, kind.

I am confident that the Web’s view of us will increasingly be used against us, from the job market to the criminal court.

People seeing us as something or remembering us for certain qualities or characteristics is one thing — they forget, forgive or can change their mind.

The Internet is another thing. The Internet remembers everything and is hungry for information.

It’s an unslakable beast that never stops collecting, aggregating, linking, tagging, compiling, and archiving.

This blog post will forever live in history no matter how many people read it.

And I’ve thought long and hard about the balance of sharing anything online versus helping people think deeper about their dreams, lives, and purpose.

I believe you reading this has a purpose that far outweighs how these words affect how I am seen online or off.

In what ways do you live your life that you believe are worth living out loud for people to see, experience, and remember about you?

Is what you think they are seeing accurate with what they truly see? As this piece of art shows above from the Personas exhibit, I have some work to do. But don’t we all.

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