Photo: Copyright Microsoft Corp.
Twenty years ago, cartoonist Peter Steiner drew a famous cartoon of a dog talking to another dog, with the caption, “On the Internet, nobody knows that you’re a dog!” And for 20 years, that’s what a big part of the Internet has been about… fakery.
Fake IDs, fake tweets, fake emails, fake reviews, and often business profiles to puff up our image. Facebook even has a page on how to tell if an account is a fake. The fakest of a galaxy of fakes is what you will find on dating services. Outdated photos are Photoshop-ed until they meet our personal visions, even if your own mother wouldn’t recognize the results. Our images of ourselves, or our businesses, are so important to us that we’re willing to distort them beyond all recognition, to make them seem like what we want them to be.
Of course, the Internet has made it easier than ever to fake out our images, or at least polish them off. And we need that polish. Even supermodels are faking their photos today. In previous generations, there was little need for such brand management. Your personal image, after a humiliating picture in your high school year book, you made sure that you had a good photographer at your wedding, and you were done.
Small business? If you had an ad in the Yellow Pages (when pages were paper), you were bleeding edge. The Internet gave us social media, so that everyone could know who we are. From social media, we learned (or maybe just confirmed) that who we aren’t as good as who someone else is. The poor and unknown competed with the rich and famous, while little companies competed with huge corporations. A few could leverage social media and propel themselves into the big leagues. But not most of us.
For most of us, social media just gave us more ways to be obscure. Alternatively, more ways to find out how much of the world is more successful than you are. However, with the power of fakery, you can level the playing field. Dating sites are renowned for a fake, or at least optimistically edited, view of your life. But if you do a spectacular job of editing your life and marketing yourself, you just might get a lot of interest. Which is the point of having an Internet brand, right? Yet, when you do get flooded with responses to your profile, what do you do? If you have any common sense, you just might want to outsource your image management to someone who can do it better than you.
And that leads us to the personal dating assistant. You just don’t have the time to answer all the responses to your new dating profile. Once you added “ex-astronaut” to your resume and corrected a few… ahhh… blemishes on your photo, the emails just kept rolling in. Clearly, you haven’t got the time to play around with profiles when you have a new Tech Start-up to manage, on the Riviera. No, your life is too full of important events to bother sifting through the responses from supermodels who are clogging up your email.
You can outsource this and more to a personal dating assistant. Yes, your assistant can answer your emails, write new posts for your profile and continue to invent your Internet life. Well, CNN might think that dating assistants are “creepy,” but they are efficient. If course, it would be even more efficient if your digital assistant also writes the responses to your profile, to make sure that you meet the girl of your Internet dreams!
Perhaps this is a parable of our times. We all want to be… more. More than we are, and maybe more than we can be. Outsourcing lets us be more. Faking it makes us appear to be more. Outsourcing our fakery give us the best of both. If fakery is ever the best of anything. You can project yourself as anything you want, but eventually you’re going to have to live up to your profile.
Maybe there are some limits to what you can outsource, and just how far we can go in who we say we are. Still, the Internet is a fantastic tool if we use it correctly. If not for the Internet, I might never have heard about my dearly departed Uncle, In Nigeria. To be honest, I didn’t even know I had an uncle in Nigeria, until he left me $10 million in his will… and all I have to do is send in a small processing fee to get my fortune. That’s why we love the Internet, and that’s my Niccolls worth for today!