A drawing of Ana holding a phone and taking a photo of a cat who is washing itself. The cat says, suprised, oh, hello Ana.


Jottings from Ana Rodrigues

Overthinking online participation with my image

Editing and manipulating someone isn't new. But now that it is more accessible than ever for anyone to do, it feels as if every day I could be risking my safety.

As someone who has been online for over 20 years, the majority of those as a child, teenager and young adult who didn't think much of consequences means that I have been trying to delete traces of myself from the internet for a couple of years. As a typical millennial, I went from extreme oversharing to extreme perusing of every privacy setting when I create an account anywhere.

In the early 2000s, someone could edit an image of me, for example, or as we say, "to Photoshop" me into anything. It could be done as a joke or malicious. It wasn't impossible but rare as most people didn't have the skills to do so. Nowadays, we can't say the same. Image manipulation apps are easy and free to get, as well as filters. With the so-called "deep fakes", your face could be posted on any body quickly and maliciously. The same with your voice.

Many years ago, I was having a conversation with a filmmaker who told me something that still haunts me: "I can't wait for it to be possible to use any dead actor in my films". The disregard for someone's image for profit and the lack of consent isn't new, but somehow tormenting when it is about someone who isn't alive anymore. I thought we were far from it, but it is already happening.

Almost every invention is eventually weaponised to hurt women.

I'm keen to return to being more active in the online community, particularly giving talks again. I'm now stressed about having videos of my face and voice online. It has put me off of doing some videos or even streaming. I've found examples of people who successfully stream without showing their faces or voice. Still, they have a lot more experience in setting up such things. Right now, I don't have the same skill or time. I recognise that perhaps I am overthinking and over-fearful of an unlikely scenario, but it does take one bad event.

I have thought, "While there isn't more protection, I will stay hidden and quiet, " but then the opportunities I want will also be taken away from me.

I don't have a solution. Just concerning thoughts.

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