I never gave a thought to my identity before I got online. A driver’s license was pretty much it. Your age, address and photo summed up who you were.
But who are we online? I see two answers to this question. The first is more about knowing the person I’m interacting with is really the individual I think she is.
The other type of identity is often referred to as you profile or social graph. These are often a single page with links to all the different “places” you frequent: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc.
I’ve had Google Profile for while now and I only set that up because it shows up in Google searches and helps distinguishes me from all the other Steve Mays’
Yesterday I set up a profile at About Me, just to see how it works. Not bad. Probably makes sense to have a single page for this purpose.
But back to identity…
Most job interviews start with the interviewer saying someithing like, “Tell me about yourself.” How do we sum up who we are in just a few minutes. Or in a few days, for that matter? Are we the sum of our experiences? Our beliefs?
The more I think and read about this, the more convinced I become we don’t really know who we are. We have pretty good handle on this character we’ve been playing and developling since we began speaking.
So, what do we mean when we say, “That’s not who I am.”? If you can’t say/define/explain who you are… who can?
If I challenge you to tell me who you are in, say, 250 words or less, I suspect I’ll get a lot of labels: Father, Christian, Artist, etc. Not very useful when each of these mean something different to everyone.
I’m starting to think there is no essential Me. No real self. I am a story with a beginning but no end (yet). More accurately, I am many stories. My version of Steve… your version… and so on. There is no definitive Steve Mays.
So who are we online? Or off-line? I’m in the camp that thinks such a distinction is an illusion.
And one day this Human Machine in which “I” reside will be recycled. And, eventually, so will all the Human Machines that knew this one.
Perhaps this blog will be all that remains of who I am/was. I’m okay with that.