DIGITAL IDENTITY vs. IRL
Five teenagers talk identity and social media
Figuring out your identity is a huge part of being a teenager. Digital and social media can amplify internal and external pressures. In my after school classes we talk a lot about how others perceive us versus what the real truth is. This project takes that concept one step further to focus specifically on digital identity versus students’ real identity. On a rainy Thursday afternoon, the amazing and thoughtful students in my after school digital photography class, sat down to talk about identity IRL (in real life, for you old folks) and digital identity. Through a series of group discussion and individual interviews the students considered internal and external pressures they feel to present a certain way online and how that may or may not be reflected in their actual identity. Some talked about the desire to post only the good stuff or how they would never post a photo of themselves without, “wearing makeup”, others felt frustrated by the pressures put on them by their peers and society at-large and asked, why we can’t accept ourselves they way we are? Another has a casual approach to their feed and doesn’t take it too seriously. The range of perspectives is fascinating and informative particularly to adults interested in working with young people on digital media projects.
As high school students begin to learn about media literacy, mass media, and its impacts, this webpage can serve as a launching-off point to prompt discussions about how students present online versus IRL. How digital identity can evolve, how race, class, and gender come into play in digital identity. It’s also an opportunity for students to hear directly from young people their own age dealing with similar issues.
Teacher Resources: Digital Identity vs. IRL Lesson Plan
All portraits taken by students.