Who Am I. (5)

“This blog is a project for Study Unit MCS3953, University of Malta.”

Sockpuppetry — using false identities for deception — is centuries old, but the advent of the web has made creating sockpuppets, and falling for their tricks, easier than ever before. We can’t physically meet most of the people we interact with on the internet. So we create avatars who represent us in the online world, personae that are designed — on some level, conscious or subconscious — to shape others’ ideas about who we really are. Indeed, it’s natural for us to create avatars that represent what we want to be rather than what we are. And it’s only a short step from there to manipulating others’ perceptions of us to give ourselves an advantage of some sort, to deceive. To become puppet masters. (ref:-1)

We briefly explored this idea in (Who Am I .. blog 2) it is important that we understand that this is not the complete story nor maybe the most important part of this narrative, there is a hidden price that we pay for social platforms giving us “free access” and that is that we are required to fill in our personal details. What we choose to ignore is these details have a monetary value, and even when we address this thought we choose to give it little importance compared to our free access to communication with our friends and others, after all we are in control of what information and the truthfulness of that information.


Prof Beddington commissioned the study as part of the Government Office for Science’s Foresight programme : (ref:-2) an excerpt from this study says :-

It states that the changing nature of identities will have substantial implications for what is meant by communities and by social integration. The study shows that traditional elements that shape a person’s identity, such as their religion, ethnicity, job and age are less important than they once were.

Instead, particularly among younger people, their view of themselves is shaped increasingly by on-line interactions of social networks and on online role playing games.

It would therefore seem that our price for entry into this free club is not the full price of our initial handing over of our personal information but more of an entry fee, with subscriptions to follow. These subscriptions are paid by the information gathering machines that follow our every movement, and record our every activity.

It is apparent that the identity that we put forward as a description of “who we are” is not the end of the story but a beginning that is constantly up dated, building a more refined and possibly more accurate picture of who we are! It is becoming increasingly difficult to lie to the information gatherers, however our “friends” on social media, not having access to this information, are subject to the identity that we put forward. The argument is that we have not one but multiple identities, and by influence the one that we personally propose is the least important of these on the basis, that the people that believe this are those that have no access to the information gathered about us. It could be argued that we are in the best position to know our own identity and values, but are we lying even to ourselves. In seeking to deceive others or put our identity forward in the “best light” are we not only deceiving others but also lying to ourselves, is it furthermore possible to lie and deceive ourselves by “liking” others posts in order to support or be kind to them, hat information after being recorded then becomes part of our persona’s, part of our identity, which is then re-enforced by the social media feeds and advert that we are fed. Does our persona’s and therefore our identities change by this “training” of our thought. Is our identity subject to change and is this deliberate or an accident of our actions and online activity? Do I know Who I am? but more importantly as the control is taken from me Do I care?

It seems the only way I can say who I am is by disconnecting from the internet? (ref:-3) . Is this a price we are willing to pay for control of our identity in social media, and if we pay this price we will no longer be a member of social media and therefore have no identity to control?

Ref:- 1. https://www.wired.com/2014/07/virtual-unreality-the-online-sockpuppets-that-trick-us-all/

Ref:- 2. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-21084945

Ref:- 3. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35895719