Let’s trade: you be me and I’ll be you, ok?

August 2, 2007

Or maybe in your free time, you can manage my identity for me. It is the internet, after all. These sorts of things do happen. And, really, who wants to bother with the time sink of being him/herself all the time?

As an occasional reader of Chris Pirillo, who you may remember from TechTV’s Call For Help, I’ve been following a recent thread of his. I’ll save you some reading:

Chris recently found his profile on Pownce, the invite-only social-networking, file-sharing thing. The only problem is that Chris never signed up for a Pownce account and that it was, in fact, someone else pretending to be Chris. He’s now in a dialog about identity-by-proxy wherein he’s considering the possible benefits of having his account managed by someone else.

Now, unless I’m mistaken, isn’t the entire point of social networking that you’re able to have an online identity that represents you, where you’re able to do whatever it is people do on a social network with your friends and your colleagues? While I can’t imagine that I’ll be needing to do so in the near future, I’ve had just enough bad experiences with outsourcing that I’d rather not outsource myself.

And aside from the actual issue of whether or not you’d choose to have someone else manage your identity, where are the controls to prevent the mischievous types from doing so without your consent? I’ve never tried it, but can I just go on Facebook and sign up as anyone I want? (I would’ve attempted it but I’m half too lazy and half afraid that it might actually work, and then what would I do with my Ted Nugent Facebook account?). Sure, the internet has always promoted anonymity by its very nature, but social networking strikes me as a fundamentally different creature. It’s just that. . . well, it’s supposed to be you, dammit.

Oh, well. My advice to you is to be yourself. You’ll have to excuse me. I have to check Facebook to see if my close friends Scoble, ScottGu, and Joel have visited my wall recently. At least, I think it’s them. . .

(FWIW, I don’t even have a Facebook account and those people have no clue who I am. Probably. . .)


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