You know we live in a different world when “living off the grid” is a title reserved for people on National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers. Whether we like it or not, the ratio between public and private life is favoring the public realm and as a result, our lives, more often than not, are presented for the world to see. A simple Google search of my name (something we all have done dating back to those special days in elementary school when we had a class activity that involved the use of laptops) returned things that I had completely forgotten about. Those team pictures from the year I made my Little League All Star Team? Yeah, those are up there. A picture of me walking across the stage at my high school graduation? Also up there. But recently, especially after reading several of these articles, I have realized not only the importance of having a digital identity but also of the responsibility attached to it. Without further ado, I present to you the five secrets I learned about digital identity.

  1. Provide a cumulative section in which all the things you have worked on are presented with a brief description and a link to the website or video.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. By providing a section in your website or blog that encompasses all of the work that you have played a role in creating, people who search for your digital identity are able to gain insight into the fields and sub-fields that you have spent time learning and contributing about.

2. You must be willing to share yourself with the public in order to reap the benefits of having a digital identity.

This may seem obvious but I think it is one of the most important tips that I learned through this exercise. Creating and maintaining a digital identity is one of those “you get out what you put in” kind of deals. Now, I understand that some people may not feel comfortable exposing themselves to the public eye; I get that. However, I also think that in this day and age, in order to be “successful” (however you might quantify that) you must in some manner, share yourself with the public.

3. Have links to websites or blogs that have a similar theme and explore similar topics as the one you are interested in and presenting to the public.

Creating a web of websites hosted by like minded individuals who are exploring a similar topic allows for both the user and the reader to expand their network and knowledge for a topic.

4. Don’t necessarily be scared of using and exploring the benefits of social media. Utilizing social media as a platform through which you can network and connect with like-minded individuals with similar interests and passions is important and extremely helpful.

This kind of ties back to my second point. Don’t be scared about putting yourself out there in the digital world. With all the fear mongering around the NSA and hackers and all that stuff that could be central to a plot to a 1980s action movie, it is understandable that people might have some hesitation about creating a digital identity. To me however, the pros of creating something in which people can look to as a comprehensive summary of who I am far outweigh the cons.

5. Find blogs and forums that are related to things you are passionate and PARTICIPATE in those discussions.  

For all you lurkers on Reddit, this one is for you. Think of forums or blogs as a book club but instead of meeting in a living room with refreshments and finger foods, you sit in the comfort of you room at your computer with a club consisting of thousands upon thousands of people, each with their own experiences and ideas about the world. Actively participating with others regarding a topic that you all share together can be an extremely rewarding thing; one in which you are able to not only express your thoughts and beliefs but also where you can gain new insights and points of view.