18 March 2012

Journal #3 - online information

- How do we shape our ability to critically evaluate the credibility of information available online?
- How do we represent ourselves online?

How do we represent ourselves online and muddle through the truths and non-truths of other online identities? Excellent question!

I begin with myself. How I portray myself online is pretty much how I am in real life...well, the way I am now in real life. I have to agree with some of our reading assignment that identity is fluid and ever-changing. So my identity now, may not be the same in the future...for example, this post may last much longer than my opinion of my online identity. I can freely admit that in chats and IM's of the past I have outright lied to my fellow chatters, on purpose, because I knew I'd never meet them face-to-face, and so, why not be somebody else. Oddly enough, now I don't care how I am perceived and pretty much say whatever I want. For this reason, I think how we want to be perceived shapes what and how we say things online. And that is probably where the un-truths come into the picture. The speaker wants to be perceived as this or that, so he/she may tell half-truths or non-truths ("touch-ups" according to our reading) to get you thinking those thoughts. When you are chatting away with someone, or reading their blog, how do you sort through what they are really saying and what they want you to think??? I guess the real question is do you really care? If you are vested in what this person is telling you, then it makes a difference to find out the truths vs. the non-truths. Online, this may be a bit more of a challenge since there is no body language to cross-reference with the information the speaker is stating. But, I don't think the absence of body language is necessarily a bad thing. Without emotion and without facial and body miscues, lies and un-truths may be easier to spot. Sometimes, while reading a tall tale, the reader just has a "gut feeling" that the author may be stretching the truth. I would say that the reader's subconscious, without the distraction of the person standing in front of them, is putting together bits of information that are starting not to add up. When 2 + 2 = 5, alarms start to go off and your subconscious starts to grab your attention until your conscious can put the pieces together for itself. Therefore, I would have to say that there is no clear-cut recipe to figuring out online myths and reality. If it matters to you, if you are vested in the truth, then listen to (well, read carefully) the facts and see if they add up. Otherwise, it is best to take things "with a grain of salt" so to say.

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