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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reflections: Virtual Identity

It is 2012 and I've been thinking that the world has changed so much from the advent of the first computer - and more importantly, of the internet. Nowadays, we are so connected by our machines: desktops, laptops, tablets and phones - almost all of which have some connection to the internet. We use facebook, twitter, instagram and the like to chronicle our lives - mundane or otherwise. Before, each entry into one's virtual life was a matter of creating a story, a thought. Now, a simple or even incomplete sentence will do as we have the power at our fingertips to talk to anyone, anywhere.

Virtual identity. It is now possible to take part of, and steal, other people's lives because we have established a part of ourselves in this digital world where codes create our realities. Everything is now online, or at least available in it such that to lose such a connection becomes akin to losing a limb. I have tried to limit myself, but in vain. I cannot go a week without some device to connect me to this ever expanding web.

But who am I? What I find comforting about this new age, this new landscape, is the ability to create multiple selves with a few clicks of the button. I may have a copy-self: the me who exists in the real world. The one who frets about the lack of privacy, the fear that eventually my every step will be recorded and that this copy would define and overwhelm the me that exists in the physical world... I do not understand how some people are so comfortable of bringing their entire self into this domain. Where they would freely give personal information to a bunch of strangers such that it is normal to give the minutiae of one's life to the horde of friend-aquaintance-stranger and the keys to one's kingdom to service providers that can store this information infintely and sell it to multiple bidders.

It's kind of insane, now that you think about it. Today the tablet (iPad for those able to afford it - especially in the most affluent nations, societies, strata), the smartphone (iPhone, again), the computers (MAC)- ah, truly it is the age of the apple! - when once nobody, or very few people, could even dream it. I'm sure there are other events such as what I feel now that may be even more important - the industrialization comes to mind - but this is what I see now. This is the changing of the world from the century that preceded, if not the millenium.

 I am interested in how this will turn out. Will it get better? worse? Must the self that exists on the net be a full copy of the self that types these letters on the keyboard? Will the world change such that only one's avatar becomes acceptable in exploring a domain that becomes more regulated with each passing day?  But now, while I have the chance,  I will enjoy the little comfort the anonymity of this blog affords.

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