My Two Cents: Digital ink

To the colleges that could have been: I really, really wish that they could have been.

To the colleges that could have been: I really, really wish that they could have been.

By Jaylin Kekiwi, editor

It’s December, and while it is the most wonderful time of the year, for me, it’s something very different. Seniors all around know what I’m talking about: college applications.

There’s nothing more that I want in the world than to open up a letter and see that I’ve been accepted to my dream college. Receiving that letter is only a fantasy as of right now, and I want to do everything I can in order to make that fantasy a reality.

According to the experts, that means making sure that I don’t have a digital tattoo.

Our school was recently treated to a talk about digital tattooing, or the persona that you make for yourself with everything that you post online. This means everything you put to the public on, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter – pretty much every single social media site that you have an account with under the sun.

To be honest, the whole “be careful of what you post online” thing is something that I, personally, have heard a thousand times. I heard it in elementary school, when we were first being introduced to the wonders of the Internet. I’ve heard it throughout middle school, when Facebook was becoming popular. And I’m hearing it again, more frequently now than ever.

The warning now is that colleges will go onto your social media sites and sometimes want to double check who they’re allowing into their school. Apparently, if you have certain things on your profiles, colleges will revise their decision to accept you into their institution.

According to an October 2013 Kaplan Test Prep survey of 381 college admissions officers, 31% said that they had looked up an applicant on Facebook, and 29% said they had Googled applicants. That’s a sharp increase since Kaplan first began tracking this information in 2008, when only 10% said they had checked up on applicants through Facebook.

Here’s where I think these admissions officers are going wrong. They’re assuming that your digital persona is the real you.

Maybe it’s because they’re from an older generation (although I’ve met many young-ish admissions officers), but I don’t think they take into account one truism for the young: the person that you put out online is completely different from the one you are in real life.

Come on, you know what I mean. People post things that they know will get reblogs or likes, not what they truly want to or feel passionate about. It doesn’t really reflect who you are entirely because everyone’s putting up somewhat of a façade.

It’s like the 2009 Bruce Willis movie Surrogates, but backwards. In the movie, old, ugly, obsese, and deformed people stay home in bed while their beautiful and perfect surrogate selves (robots) live their lives for them in public.

I think our digital personas are much like this. We put out on the Internet an appearance of someone we think the world wants to see, but at home, behind our keyboards, we are much more than that. We are interesting and unique. We have “closet” likes, dislikes and talents that we don’t splash all over the Web. We have families, whom we love, admire, and emulate, but don’t necessarily put on display on the Internet.

It’s not possible for people to judge character well if they’re taking social media as entire fact instead of brief reference.

It would be nice if, in this new world of everyone’s personal lives at anyone’s fingertips, college admissions officers would take what they say about us with a grain of salt. Yes, we’re young. Yes, we make mistakes. But also, yes, we’re worth investing in because we learn and grow from those mistakes, just like every generation before us.

Of course, to you college applicants, I’m not saying to go crazy and post whatever you want simply because I don’t think it’s fair to judge someone by their Internet selves.

It is still prudent to remember The Golden Rule of the Internet: “Post only what you wouldn’t mind your grandmother seeing.”

Until things change, this is the way to keep your application off the reject pile.