In order to view what was going on on other people’s bulletin boards, i created my own fake character a bit back. Needless to say, it was killed in the fakester genocide, but not before i added quite a few Friends whose posts to their B-Boards helped me understand some of the user sentiment. The manifestos come from this observation.
I have to say, i’m a bit sad to see my fake character go. I had a lot of fun crafting her and writing Testimonials based on her relationship with other fake characters. It was supposed to be simply research, but i admit that i actually found it far more enjoyable than negotiating my real identity, in part because that’s so politically limited.
The other irony is that there were actually a few people that i met through that fake character that i actually would’ve gone out on a date with, if i wasn’t so entrenched with work (and now they’re lost to the system). The creativity embedded in the conversation made those people so much more attractive than the atrocious small talk that usually accompanies most of the real messages that i get.
See, the thing is that Friendster does not get away from the coarse descriptors that make interactions peculiar and sexualized (see Sexing the Internet). When it comes to meeting people outside of the Familiar Stranger/Friend of Friend degree, the profiles collapse a person’s identity into a set of forms without much meaning. Most frequently, they give little to allow the start of a conversation. [I mean.. what am i going to say when someone writes: “Koyaanisqatsi: good movie!”]
Fake characters remove you from the ridiculous small talk into a state of activity. You have a reason to connect with someone, and you have to be creative, novel, entertaining. You get to practice your literary skills, your artistic flair. Instead of trying to articulate your identity, something actually comes out of the performance of it. The conversations are far more meaningful; they don’t have that painful explicit sexual tone; sexuality comes naturally and smoothly.
Connecting through Fakesters might not be real, but neither is going through a network full of people that you barely know, but have to articulate to maintain social face. And frankly, i’d have a lot more faith in dating someone because of their ingenuity in creating a Fakester than i would talking to someone who is arbitrarily 3 or 4 degrees from me.
There’s definitely an art to fake characters. But just like graffiti, not everyone appreciates it. Of course, the trick is to figure out how to live symbiotically. And for the high art elite to realize that there is value in the art of graffiti, just like there is meaningful dating potential through fake characters.
Date: August 15, 2003 11:38 PM
Subject: fake friends
more of my fake ‘friends’ are disappering…my imaginary world is crumbling down and dissolving…they are slipping into the void… now how many people ‘work’ on this site monitoring profiles anyway!?!?!#$$%@@!%?
Date: August 16, 2003 12:23 PM
Subject: hold on/slight answeres (michelle)
Message: From: Gay Pride
Date: August 16, 2003 9:47 AM
Subject: Friendster Won’t Let Gay Pride Make New Friends!
As of the last group of friend requests this morning, Friendster (TM) has set a cap on my friends at 200. Since I already have 234, I’m screwed! Why, Friendster, why do you forsake those Friendsters that love you most?
Gay Pride feels more and more Friendster shame each day. How can something run by such square breeders be the source of so much queer and freaky fun? Answer: Less and less with each passing day. I’m not sure how much longer I can put up with this bullshit.
With rainbow kisses and lambda hugs,