The permanent online persona


Sarah Wilson

In various circumstances, the effects of students’ digital footprints have had negative consequences, even locally. In 2020, Xavier University rescinded their offer to an incoming student after accusations of the student using racial slurs on social media.

Faith Wallace, Style and Culture Writer

For our generation, there hasn’t been a world without the internet. In the age of the web, the internet knows you better than you know yourself.

Every time you log in, you add to your digital footprint. Just by searching your name on the internet, you can find old photos, tweets and countless other things you did that you might not even remember. Nothing is private.

Different perceptions and versions of ourselves already exist depending on who we are with. That’s not even talking about the perceptions perpetuated by social media. 

Sometimes we even project a version of ourselves on the internet that doesn’t exist, convincing ourselves that a perfect profile is who we want to be. Social media creates this world where everyone appears happy but instead is motivated by harmful comparisons.

On social media, we make our own choices regarding our digital footprint, aligning ourselves with groups and ideas we feel represent us, and posting a fragmented view of ourselves, even if it doesn’t fully represent us. 

When we put names to our online personas, our digital footprints become our reputation. Any harmful thing you say doesn’t just hurt others but yourself. If you post something racist, people will associate you with that when they look up your name. 

Content created using racist rhetoric not only serves as a reminder of privilege but also contributes to a negative digital environment. The history of the n-word is only one of racism–  to express the hateful view that Black people are inferior and the impact can still be felt whether it’s used online or digitally. Posting racist content shows the social undercurrent of society while contributing to perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

You should care about the people in your community. It is a social responsibility that we all have to create an environment that is safe for everyone, both in-person and digitally.