We are running through a time of digital identity, representation, and communication. So who are we and how do we balance digital and presence?
- It does not help to divide the world into digital and analog.
- Our personal identity never was just in the presence, different channels always existed, but digital interactions became overwhelming and surrounding nowadays.
- Thinking about the different environments, from work to science till private life helps us identifying the digital-first worlds and accept them. Only with that awareness, we can decide with consciousness.
- Decide for a balance between digital and analog and do not mix them up.
- Organize the Digital You with clear and conscious communication. For example with an independent profile or link tree — use about.me or IdentityPage for that.
Our New Now — or what really changed…
Let us invest a short view of our presence. Is there really an “analog” and a “digital” one? Let’s not support that idea — and even though this article has a title that differentiates these dimensions, we should start to think about a single environment, world, and perception.
When digital services have grown and just affected a few people it was right to deal with them as an additional or extraordinary part of our life. What we did not realize, was the fact that our identity never (or for a really long time ?) was just presently. Humans are talking about other people since millennia, write about them for hundreds of years, and record information about them with audio or video since the 20th century. So your being is a long time ago a multi-channel experience and not so different from today’s digital deal.
So what changed for us, and results in some difficult relationships with digital media today? It is the quantity and inception of digital media in our life. While only a few people were written about in past, and just a few tasks were solved by electronic devices (and often not very well…) we are moving into a digital-first world, with city services over the web, remote working, and connected devices in our surrounding. Today, digital is everywhere — even in our human interaction.
It is the new and unknown that can causes problems. Some humans adopt change fast, some never. So what should we do, what can we do?
Identify & Accept
Our self-identification in this new world could start with an orientation that could teach us where digital approaches cannot be prevented. For example: working as a car engineer. It is not possible anymore to avoid digital strategies to accomplish your work. Even the inconspicuous things can turn into digital-first domains. Working on materials or the form of a tire today is data-driven and assisted my different computer models. Thinking about some old industries like gastronomy? Without reservation systems or a strong booking system, it is much more difficult to reach your goals.
So we need to accept that these areas are affected by digital services and they are getting even more seamlessly from day to day.
Of course, many things are a choice. But if you want to prevent using digital systems, it can turn super difficult to find a job, to succeed in education, or to reach any other goals. Especially when you are not the key decider you need to accept the rules and standards of others.
Balance and Distance
As we mentioned before, “digital” and “analog” environments are not very different anymore. They are even new devices and tool categories that benefit our interaction on a physical level and were driven from the digital sector.
The most interesting question for people searching for a distance to this interactive and connected world is the balance we can afford in our daily life. With new priorities, consciousness use, and knowledge, we can benefit from digital-first domains and invest more time in physical experiences.
The question of how much or where to focus is very personal. Should you automate your inbox and use the new time for writing paper letters to your beloved ones? Or do you dismiss flights for work, do meetings online, and take the time to spend more moments with your family?
Any scenario could be possible, but what the most examples have common, is, that they are strictly divided. So if you bring some work into your family time or if you write a message on WhatsApp instead of a real letter, you are mixing the domains and I really believe you are not distancing correctly from the digital world.
It is fine to solve many things digitally or with electronic devices. But if you have got a problem with the rise of that kind of interaction in any sector of life, it is also your task to reorganize the priorities and not only look at the comfort. Does it suck that you do not feel well connected to your husband? Then stop texting and start a real conversation.
Many digital or modern developments are happening to solve human problems and to improve their lives. So we should step back and search the big picture, asking ourselves: is it helping me, what is it affecting (especially indirectly) and what do I need to invest.
Organization of the Digital You
If we are thinking about the last paragraph of Balance & Distance we can think about strategies on how to organize the environments you are interacting with to make the balance easier. Starting with our digital presence.
Services Should Serve You
Any service that you use — especially in the world wide web — should enable you and help you. It should tackle a problem and not steal time or other resources of your life. While it was much easier to identify the benefit of software or digital products, today anyone tells you: you need my service.
So think well about any service you are using. Perhaps you can merge two? Perhaps you can deactivate one with another workflow. This kind of evaluation takes time, but it will relieve you. Think about a presence metaphor: Would you give your time to everyone asking you on the street as you are watching and perceiving Digital Ads? Would you share your postal address with many people without thinking twice as you do with your Email?
Be Clear & Conscious
You cannot only help your own with on-point messages, clear definitions, or a good digital presence, you help others too. And if you help others, the others probably will do the same for you. Of course, this is a long-term effect and nothing that will change your life tomorrow. But accessible information and clear communication will enable everyone to interact more efficiently with you.
Ask yourself if you really need all the Social Media profiles you are registered recently. Do they really help yourself? Do they help others to find or interact with you, or can it be that it turns into a misleading route?
Think about something like a well-designed business card.
If it’s purpose-driven, you will find a name, occupation, or better the need that this person can solve for you, contact information, and some cases personality. It is exchanged super fast and you can choose who should get it.
Need some more information for this dedicated person to handover?
No problem, you write something more on your business card or change it with your pen.
Of course in the digital channels, this is a little bit more difficult. For example: what is universally working like a card? Facebook? Instagram? LinkedIn? No… they all require the recipient to be on the platform too. A website or a blog? Nice idea… but much work! So we need to find something different, with the ease of Social Media and the individuality and independence of free accessible web pages.
You are the only one who should decide how to represent you.
You should decide which channels or when digital and when analog.
You know yourself best and just you know your audience.
So do not give that power away to big companies creating stand-alone solutions that are requiring your network to do the same. Do not let decide others when you turn the power off and interact physically. Be the one who sets the priorities and organize your life always people-first, because any service or tool should serve humans.
And as always: it is not easy.
But the most comfortable way is often not the best one.