The Authentic Self Online

The audience and author must critically view the core messages that 
we are sharing; regardless of the tool to ensure it is authentic.

This week I’m focusing on some philosophy behind technology.

Ben Hazzard (@benhazzard) is one of the founding creators of Unplugd, a cross-Canada summit of people passionate about Education.  I joined him in this event in August, and met Ben there for the first time.  Ben was assigned to be my group leader, guiding the revision process and helping each Unplugd participant to create a short piece of work to describe their answer to Why ____ Matters in Education. The complete works of Unplugd were released last week and Ben’s message here of creating an authentic online self has resonated with me.

At first the internet seemed to appeal to people who could create a secret identity online using a handle or an avatar that was fictionalized. Now we have a better understanding that being online means less privacy.  I think teachers across the globe are struggling to feel comfortable with our personas: at school, in our private lives and online.  Carl Jung (1928) wrote:

The persona is a complicated system of relations between individual consciousness and society,                      fittingly enough a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others,                and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual (p. 305).

On the other hand, Jung wasn’t dealing with today’s online complications.  One of my Canadian role models, Jian Ghomeshi (@jianghomeshi), spoke at the Ontario Library Association’s Super Conference last year.  He said that basically privacy is dead, and that society is going to have to get over it.  I tend to agree with Hazzard, Jung and Ghomeshi.  Although my Twitter handle (@banana29) isn’t too far from my educational slant, I also try not to censor my political, private and public views while using this handle.   Regardless of the consequences, I value my authentic self more than my privacy.  So far, the viewers of my online self, haven’t been too critical, but I am also very conscientious that my public self will bear the consequences of my online persona.  I imagine that finding balance will be the educator’s dilemma for decades to come.  Like Ben, I wonder if we will become better at presenting ourselves authentically, regardless of the tool that we are using to share.


Hazzard, B. (2011, August). Empowering Self – Empowering Others. In Why Authenticity Matters (chapter 6).          Retrieved from Unplugd Canadian Education Summit website:                                                   

Jung, C. G., & Jung, C. G. (1972). Volume 7 [Edited and translated by Gerhard
Adler and R.F.C. Hull]. In R. Hull & G. Adler (Trans.), The collected 
works of Carl G. Jung (two essays in analytical psychology). Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1928)

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