Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Your online personality

by Rick Blechta

I was driving home from an appointment this morning, heard something really intriguing on the radio (CBC) and decided to toss this week’s topic for my new idea.

I was driving and trying to pay the requisite attention to the road, so I didn’t get some pretty important details about the discussion, but it was the basic idea that had intrigued me from the get-go:

How close is your online personality to who you actually are?

I immediately thought of myself. I post on Facebook and very occasionally tweet something. As well, I’m on two blogs and a website, so you could say my online presence is pretty big compared to the average person.

This forced me to look at how truthful what I have put up actually is. I don’t want to lose credibility with people so I can’t really lie about things (“I’m close personal friends with Donald Trump.”), but even someone like me can easily get seduced into a little “embellishment” here and there. Who doesn’t want to improve themselves a bit? I try not to do it, but it does creep in. Revisiting my online presence helps me to expunge this little indulgences.

But taken on its most basic level, you can be anything on the internet. You don’t even have to exist! And this is where it gets really interesting to someone whose business is to write about crime — real or imagined.

They are out there you know: constructs of people’s imaginations. I wrote a few months ago about an author whose works had been stolen by another author who put the stolen goods to work as her creations, hoping no one would notice. That is a form of what I'm talking about. And she almost got away with it.

In online profiles, we can easily change small details about our lives and accomplishments, embellish who we are, with little fear of getting caught except by those who know us intimately. Even then, they might simply talk to us “offline” and so not out us to the online community.

Taken further, you can make up trips, people you meet, or how much money you make. You can make-up a weekend trip to Paris. And the smaller your circle of friends, the easier it is to get away with it.

Now let’s take this idea to the creepy level: you can be a complete fabrication.

That’s where my wicked little mind took me in about two steps. And that’s fertile ground upon which to develop a hell of a plot for a thriller.

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