A while back I started thinking that we’d eventually become so intertwined with our digital selves that the two would be inseparable. Convergence.
At the time I thought this was still a few years off. I think I was wrong.
I think even right now, very few of the people reading this can imagine what life without the digitized selves kept online would be like. That’s because the real you is online.
Think about it: Who are you without a digital version of yourself?
Say you get pulled over in your car and show your laminated ID card to the cop. He goes back to his cruiser and scans it into his in-car data terminal. “Not Found”. You don’t exist. He draws his gun. You’re pulled from the car. You don’t exist. There’s no database record of you accessible through a computer network. You must be dangerous.
Hit the ground, you non-existent person. You are a threat. You’re unknown and can’t exist. You’re not real.
God help you if the online version of you has been accused of a felony, or shows up on a watch list. That’s the version that matters. Not the one sitting in the ’98 Camry with toothpick wrappers on the floor.
This is an extreme example. Notch it down a level and look at it this way: Who you are on Facebook isn’t who you are in real life. Maybe it’s more real than you are in real life.
Online, I can shape the person I want to show to other people–with varying degrees of success. I can also take my time to craft each response to others with whom I interact. Yes, this can be used for purposes of deception, but I think a lot of people use it to say what they really mean–the kind of hard truth that’s difficult to deliver to someone who might punch you in the nose or make a public scene, or whom you can’t just “block.”
Maybe the you that’s online — stored in binary format on disk drives — is the real you. Maybe data miners know your real self even better than you do.
My novel “Eye of the Diamond-T” is about multiple selves, among other things. It’s coming 12/13/14. Check it out at www.diamondtbook.com