An avid user of social media and a graduating senior at Biola University in La Mirada, California, Carissa Vera (instagram.com/carissavera) sat down with us to discuss what she makes of a digital footprint, and why she feels it is important to be aware of. Majoring in Public Relations, and having worked at several agencies in the Southern California area, Carissa is hoping to pursue a career in advertising and PR, with an emphasis on creative and digital. Carissa had some interesting takes on digital footprints and how her own personal hobby and favorite social media app Instagram, has become a dominating part of the average millennial’s digital footprint:
In your own words, what do you think is a digital footprint?
When I hear digital footprint, I think of what is essentially a trail of what you’ve put on the internet. I think of the links to your Facebook and Instagram photos showing up all the way to the old picture you were tagged in years ago. I think about my social media teacher who told us that every google search and tweet we post, regardless of if it gets deleted is archived somewhere and can come back to haunt you in your future job opportunities or with others in general.
How often do you use social media? Why?
I personally don’t think I use it that much. I’d say Monday-Friday, I’m so busy that I hardly look at my phone until before I go to sleep at night. On the weekend, I’m usually taking pictures and then later in the day, I’ll go on Instagram and VSCO and play around with planning my feed. But I’ve recently started to not really go through my feed of people’s posts, so that’s cut out a lot of time where before I think I always saw people’s stuff as they posted it and now I genuinely ask, “What did you do this weekend?”, because I actually don’t know.
Just thinking about it now, I’ve recently deleted the Snapchat and Facebook apps off of my phone, so I’d have to go on my computer or re-download the app to use them. So when I think of my social media usage I’m really just referring to my Instagram and the occasional times a week my friends ask me to look at their feed.
How dependent do you think our generation is on social media and the internet?
Maybe this is just me, but I think that the millennial generation overall is dependent on social media, but not in an addicted manner.
While there are obviously extreme cases, as a whole I think millennials are trademarked by their nostalgia for their simple childhood and yet, their embrace for the emerging world of personal technology that no one expected. I make this distinction because I do think that the next generation that has grown up navigating their parents’ iPhones better than them are addicted. They never had the option of not being constantly stimulated by the instant validation and gratification of the internet. While I think millennials kind of wish they could go back from technology that was thrust upon them, that they made due with really well.
I would say that our generation overall does feel like individuality is important and can make an impact, even on a small scale, so their every post and like and tweet are all ways that they demonstrate the fact that they care. Other generations may not get the gravity of posting something and may call that dependent or addicted to social media, but I think to most of society, I would say that collectively it has shown that our generation cares about what’s going on around them in their own circles and around the world and it’s just the current channel of communication.
Do you think most people our age are aware of their digital footprints? Are you?
Not at all. I think about when I’m posting something and if that shows that I’m not home all the time. I had a neighbor who posted they were out of town and then they got robbed soooo… I think that stuck out to me. But most people don’t think about it at all.
If you were to die tomorrow, do you think your digital footprint would be an accurate representation of who you were as a person?
I actually think it would. By the lack of posting, you’d know I’m pretty private. By my captions, you’d notice I love puns. By the series of things that I post, you’d tell I liked different structures and finding common colors. By the lack of pictures of me, you’d tell that I’m usually the one taking the pictures and that I think it’s kind of weird to have a whole feed of yourself.
I feel like the pictures I post are the things I usually would say out loud or point out to whomever I’m with, so hopefully it’s be a glimpse at hanging out with me somewhere fun.
Can you think of a person you know that may need to re-evaluate their own digital footprint based on the content they currently put out? Why?
Ha, yeah… I usually follow or hide their stuff. But usually it’s a tirade of posts about politics or about how their life is a mess. Once upon a time, a diary was for that type of stuff, but now it seems to be everywhere and that’s one of those things that is really unprofessional, so I’m sure when companies are looking up a person they are heading another direction after seeing their social media.
What do you think will be the future of social media?
My guess is that the generation of kids growing up in social media, (I call them insta-kids) are going to be very private about who knows what they are doing. Social media will still be around, it’s just going to now be about exclusivity. They’ve had their entire lives documented by someone else, it’s gonna be in their hands this time and I have a feeling it will be even more about the meaningfulness to them than it is to us. Personally, I’m looking forward to it.
If your kids were to google you thirty years from now, what do you hope they see? Is there anything you wouldn’t want them to see?
I actually think about this all the time. I hope Instagram is still up and not shutdown, so my kids can see what I was up to. That’s one thing I wish I could do for my own parents, see what they were like when they were my age.
In terms of what I hope they don’t see, all the pictures of me with round purple wire frame glasses and me in braces. I personally pretend those years never happened.
Do you think being more aware of a digital footprint is important? Why?
I definitely do. I always joked around, not to tag pictures I hated of myself on Facebook to my friends because someday if I ran for President, everyone would see it. As much as that was a joke, I know that stuff doesn’t go away, so it’s always going to be easier to not put it there in the first place.