Reflections on Reflexivity – Left is Best?


Personal Reflection Coursework 3a

This post is a reflection on Term 1 in Social Development in Practice. I discuss my arguably problematic preconceptions, what I have learned through what has changed and what has stayed the same, the literature that consolidates this learning as well as what I think it still missing and what I hope to learn going forward.

When thinking about the ‘role of the development practitioner,’ I ask myself why it is necessary to ask in the first place. I naturally begin to think about why I chose to apply for a Masters in Development – in my application I wrote that  ‘My ultimate aim is to instigate change and to contribute socially ‘towards Human Rights efforts; to gain a deeper understanding of this (social) divide and a deep insight into how to effectively reduce the inequality gap. Also about ‘my passion for analysing life’s questions and my unwavering focus on tackling the issues of inequality and injustice,’ but the longer I study this course the more I realise I had no real grasp on what ‘change’ really looked like or what injustice really meant. I wonder what informed my opinion that whatever I had to contribute towards research efforts would be remotely impactful.

We discussed ‘positionality’ and it finally became clear. I am now starting to become aware of my unconscious bias – an automatic tendency to push boundaries I see as hindrances, despite my authority to and justification for doing so. I wonder what it is about being British raised and educated that puts me at a perceived ‘advantage,’ and I am left to acknowledge what can only be described as the postcolonial remnants of white supremacy and superiority from academia and education to knowledge and research.

Watson asserts that:

‘There is no doubt that the processes of colonisation and imperialism fundamentally changed relations between parts of the world, articulating with pre-existing social and governing structures in colonised territories in multiple and complex ways. Such histories continue to express themselves through patterns of inequality affecting economy and society and, importantly, respect for knowledge and expertise (Connell, 2007).’

It is unsurprising then that even the worlds’ largest development funds or agencies are forwarded by modernisation, market-based approaches and neo-liberal ideals of said ‘development,’ which have allegedly gone on to reproduce inequalities of dependency, such as through the dreadful Structural Adjustment programs of the 70s as controversially expressed by ex-World Bank economist Joseph Stiglitz and their continued effects, as well as the exploitative trade agreements which still remain.

A trip we took to Windsor to use role play to debate the issues around Badda Cas in Somaliland was interesting. Many took the opportunity to inappropriately make light about things as dark as hunger and death, but many more, perhaps wearing the socially conscious and culturally sensitive hats of a development practitioner, felt uncomfortable. People were uncomfortable in the irony that a group of ‘development’ students from a Russell Group university and characteristically elitist institution could take a trip to a luxury 17th century British country house in the very town synonymous with royalty – to go and discuss issues pertaining to a country halfway across the world in East Africa. I argue that there is a certain entitlement in this practice; that whilst role play in and of itself is very useful in furthering development discourse and allowing individuals to better understand what it truly means to be disadvantaged, choosing to do so in such an environment is regressive and reproduces the hierarchies and structures of Western authority we as development practitioners should seek to dismantle. I believe that as a development practitioner, every practice should we done without entitlement or imposition; without the authoritative mindset of the ‘rescuer’ Anne Tooney speaks of, not the intention to sympathise, but to empathise.

Interestingly, when highlighted in the final plenary and reflection session on the workshop, one tutor actually confirmed that these are the powers that be within development; that these processes are common and lasting, to which many students felt disappointed – perhaps that a tutor of development should be more progressive in his thinking, or perhaps that the burning fire we all came into the department with was starting to dwindle in both acknowledgement and acceptance of the sheer force of inequality. I am then grateful that this focus on people-centred development, whilst difficult in terms of understanding and consolidating the needs of diverse groups of people, is comparatively justifiable. Working towards safeguarding the environments and livelihoods of the most vulnerable from the ground up seems morally just. In line with this sentiment and the criticism of the development industry, and the subsequent formation of ‘post development’ in the 1990s, I assert that it is crucial to deconstruct development at its core. When discussing development and its origin, namely the reconstruction of the war-torn states affected by World War Two, it was a particularly economic process of restructure and restoration as expressed by Sachs (1992) and Escobar (1995) as discussed by McGregor. Development is now starting to look similar; Skyscrapers and financial districts like those in Eko Atlantic Nigeria replacing immediate needs for sanitation and security for inhabitants of informal settlements who have built their livelihoods, and must now have them completely uprooted to make way for increased foreign investment. I have begun to understand that development should simply cannot be gazed at through the lenses of entitlement or presumption. Left is not best and white is not necessarily right when pertaining to real lived experiences and struggles. Financial literacy is not the definition of development, but the ability to attain and choose or create a livelihood that is satisfactory (in reference of the thinking in line with Sen and Kabeer.)

Going forward, I hope to continue to be reflexive in my approach. I hope to question and challenge myself constantly about my intentions, my right to intervene and my perceptions about development. I have essentially had to ‘unlearn’ my preconceptions about the relevance of my contribution to development discourse as well as my role as a practitioner. Clarke and Oswald (2010) essentially state that to instigate Emancipatory social change, in their opinion the most progressive type of social change that departs from the dependency and reproduction of inequality we see in some cases today, one must be able to challenge social norms, shift power relations, and change practices, but assert that there is a need to navigate the complexities around all these. From my past experience I can confidently assert that intersectionality and nuances around society and culture are virtually impossible to navigate with one standard framework or approach. Consolidating differing needs, cultural norms and pre-existing power dynamics that Fraser and Kabeer often reference is a challenging task. The class workshops in participatory video, enumeration, ethnography and participatory planning saw a variety of different approaches and lenses through which to look at problem solving, confirming once more that a development practitioner must be flexible in thinking, but also that there are relevant and useful contributions development practitioners can make when projects and processes are well informed, and genuine in approach.

I certainly do not have the answers to the questions of how to dismantle the power relations surrounding development and how they exacerbate inequality, nor do I fully understand how and a development practitioner must situate him or herself to help progress this. I don’t even have the absolute justification that a development practitioner must ‘help’ at all, however understanding that above all, ‘the protection and promotion of local cultural priorities and beliefs’ (McGregor 2009) is critical, and where the real and immediate needs of the most vulnerable in society is focused on, is a good place to start when practicing people-centred development.



  • Naila Kabeer – Resources, Agency and Achievements: Reflections on the Measurement of Women’s Empowerment (1999)
  • Anne Toomey – Empowerment and disempowerment in community development practice: eight roles practitioners play (2011)
  • Vanessa Watson Seeing from the South: Refocusing Urban Planning on the Globe’s Central Urban Issues (2009)
  • Andrew McGregor – New Possibilities? Shifts in Post-Development Theoryand Practice (2009)
  • Clarke and Oswald – Introduction: Why Reflect Collectively on Capacities forChange? (2010)

Goodbye, UOSM 2033

So this is my very last ‘Living and Working’ on the Web post, and I thought it would be best fitting to recap: The high’s, the low’s, what I’ve learned and what I am yet to discover…

The internet is truly as vast as your imagination can carry it. On a normal day it is possible to scroll past a makeup tutorial, a prank, a funny cat meme, a Kim K Selfie and a car-mod video all in one swipe of a finger (on an instagram feed for example.) If scientists are still searching for signs of an ‘alternate universe,’ I genuinely believe that the internet is the answer to one. It is virtually  impossible to cram the whole social sphere that is the Internet into one 6 week module, but the beauty of this one is that it manages to delve deeper into what you might think of as the ‘Philosophy of the Internet, if you will; (perhaps an alternative course title?) which can then expand to every corner and crevice of the internet, be it twitter, open access or fraud.

I can firmly say that above anything, this module has taught me to really think about the decisions I make online everyday, and this is something I will continue to do.

I realised that being born into what one might consider a ‘digital age’ or being what is considered a ‘digital resident, (as learned in Week 1,)’ it is easy to fall into the mindlessness of the everyday processes of clicking, retweeting, liking and commenting on content without actually realising the impact that these things all have, and it is easy to forget that the ‘World Wide Web’ goes by that name for a reason. Week 3 stood out to me because it demonstrated real life implications of carelessness when it comes to an online presence, voicing opinions or making jokes online; A bad joke can literally get you fired.

I also learned to appreciate the access I have to the Internet, and that whilst it can sometimes be used for bad, it can also be used to do a great deal of good. It educates, empowers and enlightens, and one of the highlights of my whole UOSM2033 experience has ironically been being proven wrong, or being corrected by others. My first world ignorance sometimes blinded me to the reality of the issues faced in the world outside the comfortable Western one. I learned first hand about personal experiences with political and social barriers on freedom, I learned that researching an essay or reference isn’t as easy as it is for me in other parts of the world, that a job offer will not always be as easy as a LinkedIn add, and most importantly I learned that I must never take what I have for granted; something I will take with me long after my University experience ends.

On this topic, I have decided to link this thought-provoking poem I heard a while ago that perfectly depicts the social bubble I was self-admittedly caught up in:

To sum up my experience I created a short video (below) highlighting the main things I took from the Module as a whole, and how it has helped me develop personally.

In ending my final post, I would like to say a very big thank you to all the module co-ordinators, and a special thanks to Lisa, who despite my very non digital resident ways, was very patient with me.

Reflections: Five

This week’s topic was one I struggled with slightly, perhaps because I found it harder to agree with the opposing side to open access. Comments on my post definitely alerted me towards the benefits of paywalls, and whilst I can understand fully why a creator would want money to improve the quality and or quantity of content or research, I am a natural consumer in the situation and therefore my focus will be on consuming. Zachary’s post was one that I resonated with, because his introduction of advertisement as opposed to paywalls was something that one; I could relate to (as it’s something I’m increasingly starting to see on pretty much all media platforms) and two, I spoke about in my own post. He referenced Buzzfeed as a news platform that uses commission from advertising, which I then compared with my own reference to YouTube, however I questioned whether these platforms favour these systems because they are entertainment based rather than educational.

I took a more contemporary approach to the topic of open access, and where most blog posts focused on education, I focused on content/information in general, Wikipedia, Youtube, and more entertainment focused forms of content and information. I did this to make my post different and more relevant to a reader’s everyday life (other than just a student who will see the topic in reference to education or writing an essay,) however, I definitely could have considered the educational argument to achieve a more conclusive blog post overall. Luckily, other blogs such as Harry’s took a statistical & analytical approach which made learning about and understanding open access much easier, and his comment on the impacts of open access on education systems in developing countries was definitely an important one. I commented that it is easy to forget other cultural benefits of things when in the UK education we are exposed to a very wide range of very good quality resources. This reinforced my opinion that Open Access can only be good, however he argued that it is more beneficial in LEDCs and less in MEDCs due to Institutions, schools and universities having good provision of resources, however I questioned where the line should be drawn, and I wonder exactly what type of country or institution can be classed as good enough to do without open access.

Overall I would definitely say that I have more research to do on the topic of Open Access (which I might add literally requires Open Access – cough cough) but I’m certain my thinking will stay the same. In a free society where the world wide web has literally become a museum with admittance free for all, I can’t personally imagine now being forced to pay for it or kept behind a paywall to access information I can literally find for free on the next web page at one tap of my trackpad.

Come In: We’re Open


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Online Access is described as ‘free immediate online availability of research articles with full reuse rights.’ The notion of ‘Open Access’ and the controversy around it essentially like makes me think of the difference between a museum and a shop. In a museum, entry and viewership is completely free and people can come and go as they please. In a shop there are several products and items available for people (online users) to view, however the shop owners (content creators or owners) would want you to pay before taking it. In a museum, entry and viewership is completely free and people can come and go as they please.

It has been predicted by a DRUM news report that within 3 years, 90% of online content will be held behind paywalls, and this is something that I am starting to realise day by day. In researching online access for this blog post itself, I came across this very notion,as depicted below (taken from Wikipedia)

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In another Example, Youtube, the video streaming site we all know and love has been one of the best and easiest websites to use for years, and I remember when they initially introduced ‘ads.’ Whilst it is not 100% a paywall, you are obligated to watch at least 5 seconds of any advert that appears, which the YouTube Corporation is essentially benefitting from financially.

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Similarly, their creation of YoutubeRed in October last year, (a paid streaming subscription service,) meant that certain content was inaccessible unless individuals payed to view it.




In the Piktochart I have created below, I explore further some of the advantages and disadvantages of online access:


I definitely believe that education and the access to knowledge and information is the primary advantage for open access, however as explained above, this privilege can easily be abused. Anyone can take and share content that has open access and use it as their own, or even use it to create and embody an alternative persona as explored in previous posts. The video below goes into more detail about the concept of Open Access, and builds on the concept of a museum and shop a little further by distinguishing between content that is ‘Free to Read’ and ‘Free to Use’:


Overall, I believe that knowledge is power, and without open access much of the world’s social, educational, technological and economic development would not have taken place. Countries affairs may not have been as easily shared and much of what we have learned about for example of history and politics would be unknown. I definitely believe that the advantages of open access far outweigh the disadvantages, perhaps because I myself am more of a user and less of a creator, so I only gain from it, or perhaps because the ‘free and open’ internet has been all I have known, and the concept of paying for it, or having what I have always accessed freely be blocked or restricted is unusual to me.




DRUM News Report on Online Content

Youtube RED

Time Article on Internet Users Worldwide

‘Open Access Explained’ Video



Reflections: Four

This week I chose to further build on the topic of online identity theft. Whilst I can acknowledge that there are other and perhaps more severe forms of identity theft (for example of banking or other personal details,) I wanted to focus more on the theft of identity in the form of a persona. In choosing which online ethical issue to discuss, I knew that I wanted to focus more on the psychological reasons and motives (again, purpose) behind the act, and I wanted to make people think more perhaps about the reasons why certain things happen.

In reading other posts I learned a lot about several different ethical issues in depth and thought about some concepts that I hadn’t before. Hannah’s post about the digital divide was particularly good in pointing the reader towards the social and educational disadvantages that come with the digital divide, for example the impacts it can have on a students grades, something I had never previously thought about. It was also good in referencing the digital divide internationally also (for example developing countries in Africa do not have the same standard of communication and technology.) She referenced that 94% of recruiters utilise online platforms such as LinkedIn, and anyone without this access could be at a disadvantage. I did argue, however, that different cultures have different relative techniques, and being African myself I see that these processes often work well, so an online site LinkedIn may not always be the best and most effective form of networking for all people in all places. (A point I have carried since week 2 when I was reminded that cultural influences also play a big part in the way that the world works.)

Also, Nicole’s post on ‘why privacy matters’ was also interesting in that it put into perspective the influence of social media over employment more practically. She used the statistic that 61% of job reconsiderations were actually negative when recruiters checked a candidates social media. This definitely made me think more about how I may present myself online or how my online persona may look to an employer and how I may make more of a conscious effort going forward, however in reference to privacy, I questioned the link between wanting to keep things private or locked (in reference to the Greenwald Ted Talk) and social media, and whether or not she was arguing that people going forward will keep their social media platforms locked and therefore out of the sight of potential employers and therefore out of the way of their prospective futures.

Overall,this week gave everyone the creative freedom to dig deeper into some of the more personal, socio-economic, historical and cultural motives behind a lot of the issues surrounding the internet. This is probably the week that I not only learned the most but the week that I UNDERSTOOD the most, because it is one thing to know what an issue is, but it is another to understand exactly how and why it occurs.


Thief In The Night


According to a report by WA Today on the 24th November, Identity Theft is an issue that has been increasingly dangerous and is actually ‘the fastest-growing type of fraud.’

My focus is on personal identity theft, and it is an issue of such significance that there is a tv show currently based on the topic. ‘Catfish’ is a Documentary style investigation show that looks further into finding and contacting the people behind some of the most serious cases of identity fraud, from money laundering to online relationships that can often span years.

It is a show I watched myself and found particularly interesting, firstly because it was a funny and unimaginable concept to me that someone could pretend to be someone else (when it came out in 2012,) but mainly because it was something that was absurd and unusual at the time. Now however, it has almost become the norm; It is common for individuals (some of my friends included) to cause identity theft to catch out a cheating boyfriend (that quickly becomes an ex,) lying friend or to comment and express yourself anonymously.

A BBC Report on ‘the curious case of Leah Palmer’ is an example of this identity fraud. Ruth Palmer essentially had her pictures taken and used on social media accounts instead as ‘Leah Palmer.’ The individual created profiles across several platforms including Instagram and Tinder. ‘Leah’ engaged in cyber relationships, lied about locations and about the identity of an ‘evil ex’ who turns out to be Ruth’s loving husband. What was particularly strange was the fact that the would have known the person doing it as there were also pictures of even her close friends and family used to make the profiles appear more authenctic.

A Twitter account @aretheyloyals specifically dedicates itself to using pictures of either boys or girls, sending them with a different name and approaching an individual (in a relationship) to show interest. The individuals response is then posted on social media (and I assume sent to other partner in the situation) to show whether or not their partner is faithful.

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-00-04-33There is usually a background reason or motive for everything that happens, and this is the notion that has been central to all my posts thus far. Catfish the TV show for example, is a prime example of this search for intention. They make a specific effort to dig deeper into the lives of the individuals committing the identity theft and often find a broken or bullied soul. In the case of Leah Palmer and other victims from the episodes I’ve watched, the people stealing identities are within the same social circle as the thief, and there can arguably be malicious intent, however for the most part, individuals find a sense of confidence, beauty or power in embodying a persona other than their own. It can be their escape; their opportunity to finally feel beautiful, or to finally feel recognised.

There are obviously differing degrees to Identity theft; stealing someone’s bank details or ID and stealing someone’s pictures are two very different things, but in this case I believe the ethical issue of identity theft is one that must be looked at through a very specific lens. People cannot simply blanket all individuals that commit the act as thieves, because often, they are victims.


WA Today Article

BBC Report – The Curious Case of Leah Palmer

Twitter Account – @aretheyloyals

Catfish the TV Show



Reflections: Three

This week’s topic was different from the previous ones; I was able to engage with real life instances in which digital personas really shape and affect many aspects of an individuals life, other than just their online one. Davina made an interesting point about our online profiles being like our ‘social CV,’ and she made me think more about consistency throughout online profiles, however it led me to question whether this means an individual should remain professional across all platforms. An individual should have the liberty of creating a channel about baking even if their profession is banking, but I wonder if this creates inconsistency.

I decided to take a practical step-by-step approach to the task of instructing someone on how to make their online profiles authentic. I broke the process into 3 steps; avoiding controversy, remembering to show personality or passion, and being creative, and many other posts picked up on blogging as a new and untapped way of marketing yourself, which ironically, I didn’t think of straight away. It was interesting to read other posts and to see the interpretations everyone had; some personal, some more professional. Tobie’s post used particularly relevant social occurrences as a metaphor for the importance of good and authentic marketing of yourself, and how it isn’t always about experience (i.e. Trump.)

Several other posts referenced the Justine Sacco Case, and it was used a prime example as to why individuals must be increasingly diligent when creating their online profiles. A comment made on my blog suggested that people are still unaware of the implications of their online actions, however it is clear that many people are starting to realise the impact these choices have. I referenced a comment that was made on the Justine Sacco blog post itself showing an individual who made the conscious effort to be more careful about what she posts, even going to the extent of deleting her Facebook in knowledge of what the wrong joke/comment or post can do.

In all, it is evident through reading several other posts and referencing my own,  tha creating any authentic profile revolves around 3 major themes; originality, (blogging as a new way of promoting yourself is new and different,) professionalism, (remaining appropriate where necessary,) and lastly staying proactive; always updating information, interacting online and networking, and always staying relevant.


Building Your Professional Profile: Easy as 1-2-3!


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Throughout my blog I have highlighted the increasing influence that social media and our online profiles have on our everyday lives, confirmed in an article written by Lisa Harris on ‘Using social media in your job search’ which states that roughly four hours a day or ‘half a working day’ is spent on social media. Social media is becoming an integral part of our culture and our personal personas, so it is almost natural that it would also become an integral part of our professional personas also.

In previous posts, I have made comments on the ways in which our online profiles shape our identities, and how different platforms serve different purposes and therefore display our different traits as an individual. For example, a CV may be shared on LinkedIn but not on Instagram, and similarly a joke shared on Twitter may not be entirely appropriate for platforms like LinkedIn or Reed; Different approaches on different platforms is logical in that it is not always possible to remain completely professional and work-focused at all times, and there have been several recent incidents in which the online profile or ‘persona’ you create will affect all aspects of both an individuals social and professional life, regardless of the platform or media site (yes, a tweet can get you fired.)

This, however, doesn’t mean our professional profiles have to be as boring as a CV typed in Times New Roman and printed out in font-size 12. There are just 3 very simple and easy steps to take to ensure that you can create a completely authentic, profile that can keep you looking professional, but keep you looking like you!


1. Avoid too much controversy! Beware of the All-seeing Eye…

Screen Shot 2016-11-12 at 23.54.35.pngAn article on ‘How One Stupid Tweet blew up Justine Sacco’s Life’ builds on this ‘cross-over’ further. The article is essentially an update on the incident that took place during December of 2013, in Justine Sacco, ‘the senior director of corporate communications at IAC’ took to twitter to make particularly controversial jokes.

Amongst the frankly hard to read borderline racist jokes were:


“Chilly — cucumber sandwiches — bad teeth. Back in London!”


“Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”


A fellow employee actually commented ‘I’m an IAC employee and I don’t want @JustineSacco doing any communications on our behalf ever again. Ever,’ and this is exactly what you want to avoid and it’s probably quite obvious that she got publically humiliated and attacked, as well as fired immediately. It is easy to forget that what you may think is your small online bubble of under 200 is still visible to all! Other comments on the post itself actually show people’s clear identification with this issue. One comment actually states: ‘I deleted my Facebook account last year for the simple reason that I didn’t trust myself not to be glib. I am flippant by nature…’ This sense of an ‘overseeing’ eye is one that has come to be widely acknowledged as something to be aware of; our every move is essentially under a microscope and more and more people are making a conscious effort to be more careful about the picture they paint of themselves online.

Expressing or voicing your opinions and views is completely fine, but make sure that you stay appropriate; if you wouldn’t be comfortable with your boss or mother seeing it, it’s probably best you don’t post it! Learn from Justine’s frankly embarrassing mistake and avoid any topics that can be offensive. (You don’t want to be the little birdy alone and isolated from everyone else)


2. Show Personality: BE YOU

Screen Shot 2016-11-13 at 01.07.52.pngIt is ok to make jokes (appropriate ones remember,) and be yourself on your social media profiles. Employer’s want to see that you are REAL, and not just words on a page. Michael Weiss in a BBC Video on How to Promote Yourself Online encourages individuals to ‘tell a story’ through their social media platforms and essentially sell yourself to prospective employers. He also puts an emphasis on showing passion. It is one thing to show an employer why you may be able to complete a task or fulfil a job role, but it is another to show them why you want to; why you are passionate about the field and what differentiates you from the next Tom, Dick or Harry.

Michael suggests a small and personal paragraph about yourself on your LinkedIn profile; Your online profiles are your opportunity to put your best foot forward and express yourself. A survey carried out by Jobvite states that ‘93% of recruiters will review a candidate’s social profile before making a hiring decision,’ so you know they’re watching, and you don’t want to be the one that didn’t make the most of an opportunity.


3. Be Proative & Be Creative: Show and Tell

Being Proactive, frequently updating your information and achievements, and dedicating yourself to looking interested are all great things to do; like your employers Facebook page, and make sure to follow their Twitter and LinkedIn pages. An article on Building your online professional profile by the Ohio State University encourages individuals to ask questions, join networking groups, and retweet things that are related and of interest to you as great ways to stay connected.

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It is also useful to show specific examples of projects and accomplishments you have completed or achieved, as well as using multimedia to better showcase yourself. The ‘Work Experience’ section of your CV can be dull, and often repetitive for a lot of employers to see, so coming up with a fresh new way to display this is a step in the right direction. 15% of employers actually used YouTube to recruit according to Jobvite, so include links to projects and videos you are involved in or have created, use images, and make sure the all seeing eye (your employer) remembers YOU!




Social Recruiting Survey by Jobvite (2014)

NY Times Article on Justine Sacco incident:

Lisa Harris Article on ‘Using social media in your job search:’

BBC Video: How to Promote Yourself Online:

Ohio State University – ‘Building Your Professional Online Presence’



Reflections: Two

This week’s topic was quite different and the concept of online identity is one that I have not previously thought about in much depth. I hardly ever think about the fact that any time I make a google search or like an Instagram picture I am impacting my online footprint, and this is something that Hei Lam Cheung’s online ‘tattoo’ metaphor led me to realise. It can be easy to live our lives day by day mindlessly and forget to take time to really think about the affects of our actions have, on or off the internet.

My post took the approach of arguing against multiple anonymous online identities and I focused on the dangers of anonymous online identities and how it poses large risks due to the blanket sense of security it gives. Will’s post also leaned towards this concept; his reference to Reppler was good in providing an example of an attempt to combat the issue, but the point I made was that it can be quite  difficult to draw the line between safety and intrusiveness.

Reading other blogs, I learned much more about the ‘privatisation of privacy’ and how companies benefit from data sharing. This was interesting to me as once again data sharing is an everyday occurrence, but one that I rarely ever think about. A comment that stood out to me in particular and made me think more about socio-economical and political reasons in favour of anonymity was Xiaolu’s. I was pointed towards examples of countries and societies  such as China and Iran where freedom of speech can be controversial and where the very ‘blanket of safety’ that I previously argued was corrupt, is actually essential.

Overall, I would say that my views were generally quite rigid and I failed to see why anonymity could possibly be a positive thing. This could perhaps have been because of social conditioning and the general perception of anonymous users, or perhaps because of shows like catfish; but I cannot doubt that it has been changed slightly due to the previously mentioned comment that I got.The idea that there is more to anonymous online use than being malicious and leaving mean comments on photos or videos is something I should have considered more closely, and in future I will definitely make more of a conscious effort to think about more historical, socio-economic and political motivations for online use.


Comments On:

Will’s Post

Hei Lam Cheung’s Post

Who REALLY are you?

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Do you wear the online mask?

In an increasingly digitally driven age, our personal online identities essentially shape the way we interact within our society; they are our own personal gateways to socialising, networking and they are how we put our ‘best foot forward’ so to speak in order to display ourselves in the best light. They can be quick and easy tools to inform friends and family about upcoming events, birthdays, or even who you’re in a relationship with. Having more than one identity makes logical sense, as it is almost impossible to distinguish all people by just one means or fit every individual into just one box, however my argument is not particularly in favour of this notion. Whilst my thoughts are based on the personal risks rather than the corporation-based ones that involve cookies and data sharing, I am still sceptical about the issues that arise from having multiple identities; anonymous ones in particular.


Once again, as claimed in my previous post about digital residents and visitors, purpose is the driving factor in whether or not having an online identity (particularly having several) can be an issue. For example, my LinkedIn profile will display my more academic based and professional attributes in aim of portraying myself as a good candidate to both employers and networkers, but my purpose for using more light-hearted apps like twitter or Instagram may be completely different and therefore I may come across differently. Parallel to this argument, an online Identity may not always be personal; several Facebook, Twitter or Instagram profiles may have a completely separate objective; they could be clothing boutiques, offer catering services or be celebrity fan pages where fanbases can interact, almost creating a sense of an ‘online community,’ similar to the views of Christopher Poole on his creation of the anonymity focused site ‘4Chan’. I have no doubt that the idea behind it is certainly interesting and that it can potentially be an engaging experience for those interested, however this notion that an online identity does not always have to comprise of pictures of my face and explicit details about the foods and films I like lends itself to some dangers. A wired article on ‘the online identity crisis’ points out that ‘there are very few situations where it is useful or even desirable to be anonymous outside of explicitly anti-social or criminal behaviour,’ and this is where I make my argument.


This freedom of expression can prove that online ‘no one knows you’re a dog’ as expressed by Krotsky and can often lead to unwarranted aggression through the confidence users feel when acting behind this ‘online mask’; almost like the frequently used term ‘twitter fingers’ as popularised by Drake of course. This open sense of anonymity creates a safety barrier that allows people to discretely abuse rights and subsequently become a masked online user that can now anonymously offend, oppress or even commit online identity fraud as a ‘catfish;’ as explored in the titular MTV Show, confirming the staggering claim made in a telegraph article written on 10 ways to protect your online identity that ‘every three seconds someone’s identity is stolen. From something as little as one anonymous dislike or abusive comment on a YouTubers video, to a large (and anonymous) hate- crime organisation forum of hundreds, the purpose of online identities when misused and abused can pose a particularly large threat to all, and unfortunately over time, the once harmless intention of the online community has been corrupted.



The Guardian: Online identity – Is authenticity or anonymity more important? 


Wired – ‘The Online Identity Crisis’ 

Telegraph: 10 ways to protect your online identity

MTV Show: Catfish

{Just incase you wanted to hear it 🙂 – Drake ‘Back to Back}