Independent University Newspaper
Copenhagen Business School

Popular searches:

Independent University Newspaper

Copenhagen Business School

In the minds of digital users, who are you?

Portrait of man

(Photo by Anna Holte)

Blog |   15. Dec 2020

Morten Levinsen


My days with a stalker were as you would imagine.

He followed my routine alone in a bedroom in Copenhagen as the bright summer evenings stretched far into darkness. In the late-night hours, the only light in the room came from the glow from his Marlboro cigarettes and his blue-tinted computer screen. A short moment of silence broken by a slurp from a cup of black coffee, and then mouse and keyboard noises continue clicking away through known and unexplored corners of the internet. In the dark room, he’s noting down everything he finds. Comprehensive notes. He needs them to complete his mission. And his next step is to write detailed portraits of his five chosen ‘victims’.

The stalker in the bedroom is my buddy Oliver. Even though he is used to being a stalker, he’s not a creep. Actually, his stalking was prearranged. Stalking with consent if you like. And his mission was formal. It was his master’s thesis at CBS. He was stalking to answer a question that has also been on my mind for some time: Who are we in the minds of digital users?

I meet with Oliver at a café in Nørrebro. He looks too wide awake to still be living the life of a  stalker. I’ve read a resume of his thesis, and I know we’ll both benefit from this meeting. It’s a chance for me to learn more about digital identity and a chance for him to share some of his knowledge and expertise. Isn’t that what democracy is all about? Sharing knowledge and opinions?

More about democracy later. Our conversation starts with other questions, and we quickly agree on one thing: A part of our modern human identity is digital. This becomes clear when you google yourself to see what information others can access about you.

In the dark hours, Oliver became sure of one thing: In the physical and digital worlds, people are hiding different parts of their person

It raises some questions: In the minds of digital users, who are we? How is the digital universe presenting us? And most importantly, what societal consequences does this image have?

In the dark hours, Oliver became sure of one thing: In the physical and digital worlds, people are hiding different parts of their person, depending on the context of the various forums we visit. We hide some aspects of ourselves when we go to work. Just as we hide parts of ourselves on LinkedIn and Instagram. It’s a game of hide and seek we have all agreed to play. But Oliver has realized something important here. Unlike the physical world, the digital universe does not discriminate. Digital information is universally accessible. Big Brother is watching. And even more so, Big Brother remembers you. He tracks your activities in all your forums at the same time. Always and for all eternity. In the digital version of hide and seek, you run the constant risk of being revealed.

Revealed how? Maybe by an old picture on Facebook showing your party persona to your colleagues. Or maybe an opinion piece that, over the years, ages less than gracefully, showing you in a clumsy light, just like middle-aged men reflected in the eyes of today’s radical feminists. Maybe you will never be revealed. Maybe you will be revealed tomorrow. Maybe in ten years.

The possible public unveiling sets impossible expectations. We must always be ready to accept not only who we are, but also who we used to be. Will you be able to account for all your actions today in ten years’ time? Of course not. And when we realized that, we stopped posting ridiculous pictures of our friends on Facebook to celebrate their birthdays. At least, it cannot be because we ran out of pictures…

The young generation are especially aware of digital identities. That’s why we’re less and less publicly visible on digital media. It’s my parents’ generation who are active in the comments section on Facebook. Not that the young have no digital presence. We are just learning to be present in a way that leaves as little public trace as possible. My friends and I are afraid of being revealed. And so we continue playing hide and seek, showing nothing.

Many of my closest friends do not even dare to participate in Facebook threads

Ironically, one friend is a member of a recognized debate and school of criticism and theory but won’t have his opinion printed in even the smallest opinion-based media. Not because his opinions are radical, but because he fears minimizing his possible job opportunities.

Many of my closest friends do not even dare to participate in Facebook threads. They too are afraid of being revealed out of context (not to mention the brutal language and tone used online). Healthy and normal people are afraid of their own opinions. They do not dare to take part in what the internet was invented for: Sharing information, freedom of speech and democracy.

This serious democratic problem leaves a silent generation for whom mainstream communities are the only place to let off steam. It leaves youths afraid of sharing individual opinions. Youths trapped in the digital world. Too afraid to set themselves free with real political activity. Youths showing symptoms of implosion!

Sigh. Because the digital universe presents us in this light, the fear of being revealed as clumsy, insufficient or vulnerable is holding the majority of a young generation captive in passivity. Freedom of speech, which usually defines the Western world, looks more and more like a symbolic term from the past. Hopefully, soon we will realize that freedom is not secured as a written right, but when we produce it together. Shouldn’t we act freely and dare to explore freedom now that we’ve created it?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

In the minds of digital users, who are you?by

  • News

    Staff layoffs: What happens if you’re fired

    The clock is ticking. On Thursday morning (5 October), CBS employees will know if they are up for dismissal or not. But what will happen on the day? What emotional stages are you likely to encounter? And who will be there to pick you up when you are feeling the blow of being laid off? CBS WIRE has talked to HR and the consulting agency Actief Hartmanns to provide you with answers.

  • News

    Network, network, network – CBS graduates advise on getting your first job

    There are many approaches to finding your first job. Three recent CBS graduates talk about how they landed theirs. Their approaches were quite different, yet they all highlight networking as a key element.

  • News

    A-Z of the dismissals

    In these final days of September, the fate of a number of CBS employees is being decided. The final amount of money saved on salaries via voluntary severance agreements (aka redundancy packages, Ed.) and senior agreements will be known.  After this, the actual number of employees up for dismissal will be decided by management – and then the individuals will be selected.

  • News

    Layoffs break the crucial trust between organisation and employee

    CBS is laying off a number of employees soon, which will affect our university in different ways. When employees are fired without having done anything wrong, it shatters the trust between the organisation and employees, while also taking a toll on productivity, according to a CBS expert. Layoffs also affect the ‘survivors’, who are forced to adapt to a changed workload and the loss of cherished colleagues.

  • News

    Here to help – at the touch of a button and at Campus Desk

    Exam anxiety? Lost student card? I’ve wedged my car between a Fiat 500 and a lamp post, can you help? You never know what you’ll be asked next. But that’s just how the Campus Desk team like it. And if they can’t fix your problem, they’ll know someone who can. CBS WIRE asked the team about the whole range of topics they advice on every day.

  • Gif of the week
  • News

    CBS Quiz Time: Unraveling the success story

    A successful university environment such as CBS is often associated with academic pursuits, but campus life extends far beyond the classroom. At CBS Quiz Time, a student society motivated by creative thinking and social engagement, students join in a refreshing range of creativity, excitement, and social interaction. CBS WIRE talked to Celine Møller-Andersen to find out about the society’s vision, strategies and the factors that are driving its rapid expansion.

  • News

    Why so sudden? The CBS financial crisis explained

    Employees and union representatives have posed many questions in the wake of the 17 August announcement of a firing round. In this interview, University Director Arnold Boon explains how Senior Management has been working with the budget and a change of financial strategy since the fall of 2022, and why layoffs are now necessary.

Follow CBS students studying abroad

CBS WIRE collaborates with

Stay connected