I read this post recently and decided to write about the topic of anonymity and the internet, and how easy it is to hide in this place if we choose to.
By writing in this blog I’m essentially hiding behind a pseudonym. Granted, it’s one that I’ve had for years (with a variation of it being error404ts) but it’s still not my real name. When I came up with it the intention wasn’t to hide behind it or use it as some fake personality to manifest in cyberspace. Yet here I am still using it and even embracing it at times, and were it not for my picture in the “about me” section I would have all kinds of deniability on my side. There are several close friends who know my by this name, but most don’t.
Not only are there pseudonyms that people can hide behind, there is also the option for multiple email addresses. I have three – Gmail, Yahoo, and work. I’ve had more but have long-since abandoned them since they were all created for various reasons like job searches, SPAM dumps, and others that I can no longer remember. Gmail is my main email, Yahoo is for crap that I sign up for and never want to be bothered with reading messages sent there, and work is for work. Some people have many more email addresses than I do and use them. It’s mind-boggling. Hiding from their wives and husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends, et, etc…
What can appear to be something “safe” to hide behind can also be just as debilitating. I won’t go in to the details of the example that I’m going to use, but the facts speak for themselves because let’s face it: most people are too ignorant (or comfortable) in using their other names and wind up slipping up at some point. This example involves a dating site called Plenty of Fish (POF) that is really nothing more than a hook-up site for anyone who signs up. Not that everyone on there is looking for just a hook-up, but it’s definitely not as serious as the pay-to-play sites like eHarmony and Match. A friend of mine found her boyfriend there after being suspicious of his activities. I have no idea how she decided to go on POF to look, but she did go there specifically to find him. Watching that whole thing go down was just painful. I’ve seen similar things happen with MySpace where someone deletes an account only to create a secret account later on under a different name. Very original.
Come up with a nickname or pseudonym and voila, instant alter ego! Any douchebag name will do, just name yourself after your pick-up truck or football team or Barbie doll and you’re in. Will your significant other find you? Maybe, maybe not. After all, if you’re smart you will have created a new email address to go along with your new dating self, and to be even smarter you will have made that email address nothing like your real one. Are you that smart?
God help you if you end up getting caught on those dating sites though. Because you never know who else is out there legitimately looking for a love connection. Maybe your better half’s best friend? Their mother? Their dog? You never know who you’re going to run in to. You’re better off not doing it at all, right? Eh, who am I kidding? You’re gonna do it anyway because you’re smarter than that. Riiiiight….
Your address book on your phone is another place to hide your secret contacts from your significant other. I’ve never done this and have no plans to, but I know others that have. It’s plain stupid. Another friend of mine had a boyfriend that would give the girls that he had extracurricular rendezvous with boy names that were recognizable as that girl names he was “playing” with. “Sam” for Samantha, “Jack” for Jacqueline, “Chris” for Christy, etc. But when “Jack” sends a text that says, “I miss your touch”, well, your boyfriend either has a lot of explaining to do about his sexuality or he’s cheating.
Dating is hard enough without the douchebaggery of online cheating. sometimes I don’t know what’s worse – the people who are cheating or the boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife that find immoral ways of finding out that they’re cheating. Posing as someone else to catch a person posing as someone else, finding out passwords to email accounts and breaking in to read what’s being said, you name it. Whatever happened to straight up confrontation?
Heavy sigh. I remember when dating used to be complicated. Now it’s just ridiculously hard. Next I’ll have to write about the complications of Facebook and social networking on your personal life. Jeez….