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The Abject Literator, A Literary Cahier

Expect Nothing

I had been a frequent commentator at Gawker.com for a while when, a few months back, I learned from another internet site that Gawker had been hacked.  Disappointingly, Gawker put its own interests before those of its members and decided not to warn its members that their personal information had been stolen.  So I was among those whose information was hijacked.

 

It was not a particular crisis in my life, in that my Gawker password was an older one, one that I thought I had not used with any other site.  (It turned out that I was wrong about that—but more on that in a bit.)

 

What I was not aware of at the time was that someone, somewhere who had stolen my information had decided to steal my persona.  I can’t quite say that he or she decided to steal my identity in the traditional sense—they may have tried to access credit or bank accounts, but were unable to do so—so instead I have to stick with the word “persona.”  You see, the thief has become my evil Internet twin.

 

The first time I became aware of it was when I Googled myself.  Now, I could lie about it and say that I only Googled myself in order to see if any damage had been done in the Gawker hijack, but, truth to tell, I Google myself fairly regularly.  When I was convinced by a media maven that I needed to build an Internet platform, a collection of social sites, web sites and this blog, among other things (I still hate Twitter and so will not include it although I have an account:  won’t you follow along @psoric?), I began to Google myself to check out how effective my platform was in order to make adjustments to how I am perceived on the Internet.

 

And that’s the issue:  we all are concerned with how we are perceived.  Especially how we are perceived in a global medium.

 

It’s something I have to be particularly worried about now—because there’s someone out there using my name on the Internet.  And when you have a name like “Vinton McCabe” is a particular issue, because there aren’t too many people with that name running around.  (There was one other, but my father passed away, leaving me all on my own.)

 

First time I noticed my evil twin was when, in the Google list, I saw a reference to a comment that I apparently made on the Huffington Post.  I saw the link and followed it.  Turned out to be a conversation about Michael Vick and whether, after his conviction for animal abuse, he should be given a chance to play again.  “Vinton McCabe” said that he should not.  “Vinton McCabe” was quite passionate about it.  And well spoken as well.

 

I had to admit, as much as I disliked having my persona stolen, I was very much behind what “I” had to say.

 

Next, I turned up on a film wonk site named IndieWIRE, where “I” spoke with some knowledge about film maker Joe Carnahan’s new movie and how, in it, Carnahan was trying to do for wolves what Spielberg had done for sharks.

 

So Internet “Vinton McCabe” was passionate about animal rights, interested in sports, and apparently was a film student of sorts.  What’s not to like, aside from the fact that the person posting had broken the law to access my name and information and was breaking every moral law that I can think of as well in continuing to use my name.

 

It turned out that my Huffington Post account had had the same password as Gawker.  (As the kids used to say ten years ago, during the time of the late, lamented Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “My Bad.”)  I managed to change the password and let Huffington Post know of the issue.  (They did nothing, just as Gawker, when they finally were force to admit the breech, did nothing other than offer a weak apology and suggest that we all change our passwords asap.)

 

So I took action.  I didn’t know of any way that I could report the issue to the Internet in general (and I would appreciate any ideas that any reader might have in letting someone somewhere know about this who could actually help me with it), so instead if followed “me” around and posted comments of my own under his/hers in which I asked why he or she needed to steal my name (and persona) in order to make a simple comment and why they couldn’t just use their own name.

 

After all, “Vinton” is not saying anything terrible or inflammatory.  “He” makes coherent comments and actually contributes to the ongoing conversation very intelligently.

 

Still, I was more than happy when my strategy seemed to work and “he” stopped commenting in my name.

 

Then, two nights ago, I Googled myself again.  I was, at first, happy that my number of hits was up and kind of healthy, closing in on a half million links.  But then I saw it, yet another comment.

 

This time, the site is the Gothamist.  A very interesting, intelligent site that I had never seen before “Vinton” visited it.  (I must say that “he” frequents some very smart sites.)

 

The discussion was about Bill Clinton (referred to as “America’s First Black President”) and how he was suggesting to the Second Black President that he, Obama, should use the loophole to raise the debt ceiling.

 

In his comment, “Vinton” began:  “Having lived in four different countries in my life thus far (I’m a U.S. Citizen), each time for four years or more, I can definitely say that the current congress (most of whom are Republican, but I’m certain there are Democrats and even “Independents”) are the least responsible politicians to hold office in decades — and that it’s time for the American (voting age) people to grow up.”

 

He went on from there, with a comment that was so cogent and intelligent and on-point that I would have been happy to put my own name to it, which, of course, “he” had done for me.  And he even wrote in a fair approximation of my own style, even down to the use of parentheses.

 

In “his” argument, he concluded:  “People have to be both responsible and giving and mature (and yes, self-sacrificing) in order to fix mistakes, and right wrongs.  America still hasn’t reached that point (otherwise, cretins like Boehner and company would be telling the truth — saying taxes are necessary, just as they were after the Reagan administration ran the country into debt).”

 

And I must say that I was very proud of “me.” (“Him?”)

 

So my problem is, what do you do when your doppelganger turns out to be as good, if not better, than the original.  Or if your evil twin’s contributions to Internet chatter turn out to be better than your own.

 

Should I hunt the bastard down and kill him?  Report his, track him down and the visit him in prison?  Or retire and let him take over my “brand” just as long as “he” is willing to work for free?

 

I’m open to suggestions.

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