Are you real? (Maybe you're really fake.)

I watched that Growing Up Online thingy last week on PBS and one of the things that bothered me was when the bulimic girl, Sara, says, "I have this one life that's fake. Then I have the real me." And what she means is that her online life is her real life, and her outgoing, fun-having, golfing life, is fake.

So the online me is the real me. The eating, pooping, avoiding work, occasionally showering me is the fake me.

Teens feel different from everyone else. But every teen feels different, so in feeling different, they become the same. They all think they are different, and that makes them the same. So if your different thoughts make you the same as everyone else, then the only way to be different is to be the same.
Teens should try to be the same as everyone. Only then can they be truly different. Because no one wants to be the same as anyone else, wanting sameness is truly unique.
Be different by seeking normalcy.
But the truth is that kids don't want to be different. They want to be exactly like four other people. That's a good number for a kid to handle. Five kids all alike. But different. And the Internet helps them to do that.

I went to see The Who a few years ago and Pete said that with the song "(The) Relay" (1972), he invented the Internet. I don't know about inventing it, but with titles like "I don't even know myself, " "Can you see the real me?" and "Who are you?," he seemed to have a grasp on how the Internet might evolve to create splintered views of reality.

If you read a letter from someone from the nineteenth century, like if Ken Burns used that letter in one of his PBS programs, we all believe that the feelings and events expressed by the writer are true. And we don't have any Thomas Hardy heroine whispering to her sheep how she needs to hide her true self from others, that she's a twelfth level mage with fire-casting. People may have hid their true intentions in the past, but only the insane pretended to construct their own reality. Now the Internet encourages us to adopt insane behaviour as new reality.

I like the movie The Matrix as much as anyone else, but until computers take over the world and plug me in to use my biochemical resources for fuel, then jack my mind into a video game, I'll stick with this reality.

The sad thing is, reality is agreement. And the more people who choose insane behaviour, the more rational the insanity becomes. If Google merges with Second Life, and we truly interact with our search results through an avatar, then the computers will be free to take over. But before that happens, I'll take a tip from Sidney Kugelmass and find a magician:

Kugelmass made a face and, grunting, climbed into the cabinet. He couldn't help noticing a couple of ugly rhinestones glued onto the raw plywood just in front of his face. "If this is a joke," he said.
"Some joke. Now, here's the point. If I throw any novel into this cabinet with you, shut the doors, and tap it three times, you will find yourself projected into that book." Kugelmass made a grimace of disbelief.
"It's the emess," Persky said. "My hand to God. Not just a novel, either. A short story, a play, a poem. You can meet any of the women created by the world's best writers. Whoever you dreamed of. You could carry on all you like with a real winner. Then when you've had enough you give a yell, and I'll see you're back here in a split second."
"Persky, are you some kind of outpatient?"
"I'm telling you it's on the level," Persky said.Kugelmass remained skeptical. "What are you telling me-that this cheesy homemade box can take me on a ride like you're describing?"
"For a double sawbuck."
Kugelmass reached for his wallet. "I'll believe this when I see it," he said.
Persky tucked the bills in his pants pocket and turned toward his bookcase.
"So who do you want to meet? Sister Carrie? Hester Prynne? Ophelia? Maybe someone by Saul Bellow? Hey, what about Temple Drake? Although for a man your age she'd be a workout."
"French. I want to have an affair with a French lover."
"I don't want to have to pay for it."
"What about Natasha in War and Peace?"
"I said French. I know! What about Emma Bovary? That sounds to me perfect."
"You got it, Kugelmass. Give me a holler when you've had enough." Persky tossed in a paperback copy of Flaubert's novel.
"You sure this is safe?" Kugelmass asked as Persky began shutting the cabinet doors. "Safe. Is anything safe in this crazy world?"

[text of "The Kugelmass Episode" by Woody Allen from a cached copy on Google; so sue them.]

So if the.effing.librarian is the real me, then what about the bloggers who don't blog pseudonymously? Does that mean you're not really you? By being fake, I'm real. And by being real, you're fake.

They say that one day, the earth's magnetic poles will reverse and it will f*ck up everything. What does it say about us when reality reverses and nobody notices?

thought continued here: "is the virtual you better than the real you?"

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