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years, her parents continue to post photos of her, often in the bathtub, and
often accompanied by anecdotes.32 By the time Maylee is old enough to
meet the Internet herself, the Internet has already known her for years. It
has collated many pieces of information about her.33 The Internet never forgets
this information, but collects and adds every piece to a proverbial Internet
bucket-of-appendages labelled “#Maylee”.
As Maylee grows up and interacts with the Internet and social media herself,
she continues to add to the bucket from which an image of her identity
will be composed. She shares photos on Instagram and via Snapchat; she
uses Facebook to share a video for a project; her school uploads a video of
her from a swim meet on YouTube; her friends tag her in their Instagram
comments. Everything made available online in relation to Maylee is
thrown into the “#Maylee” Internet bucket.
At 15, Maylee “likes” a homophobic joke on Facebook and re-tweets lyrics
from a heavy metal song about satanic worship. During a hockey-related
riot, a bystander taking a video of a burning car unintentionally captures
Maylee in the background, laughing, and uploads this video onto YouTube.
Later, someone who is watching the video recognizes Maylee and mentions
her by name in the video’s comments section. All these pieces of data are
now a part of Maylee’s online dossier. Even items that may no longer be
accurate, adequate or relevant to Maylee’s identity will still exist in this
bucket of data.
At 17, she starts to apply for admission into universities. Online searches
provide each admissions officer with at least some access to the “#Maylee”
Internet bucket, which contains all the express pieces of information about
Maylee that the Internet has relentlessly collected and stored over the
years. Each admissions officer performs the task of reconstructing an
understanding of Maylee’s identity through these various pieces of information.
In doing so, an admissions officer is reassembling her version of
Maylee’s Mr. Potato Head.
As an admissions officer pulls pieces of information from Maylee’s Internet
bucket, she does so in no particular order and thereafter pieces together
the information to construct her idea of Maylee’s identity. In doing so, she
builds a sense of what Maylee is like as a person. The admissions officer
might get it right and end up with an accurate representation of Maylee’s
person. She might ignore the pieces that are inadequate, inaccurate, irrelevant
or excessive and end up with an accurate perception of Maylee’s identity
at the age of 17. But it is much more likely, considering the large
number of pieces in the bucket, that the admissions officer’s Mr. Potato
Head is wrongly assembled and she gets some inaccurate ideas about who