The Identity Crisis

So I hear Google is kicking people out of Google+ who aren’t using their real names as profiles. Yeah, privacy is a big thing to complain about in this era when the Internet is an integral part of life. Especially now when literally every person I know can be found on Facebook, even people who before were appalled that someone would ever put themselves online like that. It’s become a way of life, and it’s something I’ve gotten so used to that I forget that my friends are somewhat still that way.

I’m a guy who uses the Internet like it’s nobody’s business, and sign up for all the latest sites that appear to increase the efficiency of life, so when often times I take risks in releasing my email address to create an account. I have entered my name upon many online forms, and even though I use the web enough to recognize much of what is legitimate and what to avoid, I forget that most people don’t. People have been warned of viruses and scams. I have even been asked if Mozilla Firefox is safe to download. Thank you, caution is always recommended, but many times you may use your common sense to evaluate whom to trust. Perhaps do a Google search or look on Wikipedia if you are unsure.

But that’s going a little bit off-topic. The fact is that I have reaped more benefits from setting my name as this blog’s title and giving myself a convenient identifier on my profile, also my name. I know I have put myself at some sort of risk by putting information about myself online. However, besides the fact that I am now a legal adult, it has spread the boundaries of my network across the globe and given me something to show about myself. I’m kind of a reserved person and there’s nothing much I usually can say about me. Well it’s all right here, and it’s certainly not private information. If any of it were private, I would not have bothered sharing it in the first place. Yes, I do find it inconvenient responding to those who hide their identities (at least have a custom tag for me to differentiate one user from another). It may make it safer for you, but I still have no idea who I’m talking to.

For example, one day this summer a fellow by the name of “guest” visiting a forum decided to send me a chat that began this way:

guest (8:29am): hi
joshtsai (8:31am): hello
guest (8:32am): don’t cry
joshtsai (8:33am): I can’t help it sometimes
guest (8:34am): don’t
joshtsai (8:35am): okay if you say so
guest (8:36am): i’ll be watching you
guest (8:38am): what’s up
joshtsai (8:41am): actually I’m kind of new here so I’m looking around. are you?
guest (8:42am): i’m looking at you
joshtsai (8:42am): thanks, that means a lot to me

I dearly hope you are not wondering if I was actually crying. The conversation continued with rather unimportant and unhelpful remarks, so I at one point I acknowledged that I was currently listening to Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto. In an instant this guest wanted to know the details of my recording and what my preferences were. He even introduced my to Nikolai Medtner, a student of Rachmaninoff’s. Now how on earth were either of us supposed to know anything about what each other knew, simply because he chose to hide his identity? What is the worth of conversation when it is unclear exactly who is speaking?

Later I realized possible identities of this so-called guest, but in reality I would have more quickly accepted remarks from someone that I knew. I enjoy speaking with anonymous as much as you do. Please, if you are going to utilize this piece of technology, exercise a little faith. Don’t put yourself online if you do not so desire. But creating usernames is pretty popular nowadays. Perhaps you can take some ideas from people who do that.

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