When You're Not Who You Say You Are
Author's Note: I personally feel that this one is open for debate. How you feel on the topic depends on past experience, I suppose.
I make no bones about it: I'm a fictional character. But then, aren't we all? Even if you use your real name, you can be whomever you choose to be on the Internet. For example, some people use obviously fake pictures for their profiles, including me. Do you really think I look like some stripper? C'mon! If I looked good enough to be an exotic dancer, that's what I'd be doing. I have a cousin who is an exotic dancer in a small club in Baton Rouge, and she made far more last year shaking her tush than I made writing.
Don't think I wouldn't go for it! Most dancers and most writers are, arguably, whores. Both lie to you and take your money. The only difference is that, while you probably get more enjoyment from a beautiful woman telling you that you're a great lover, you can pull a book from the shelf and reread it. For free. If you go to see the dancer again, she's going to want more money. So much for being a "great lover".
The Internet is full of fictional people. Someone once said that the Internet is like a frontier town in the old west, where lawlessness abounds. Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances. I could set up an account here tomorrow claiming to be a 13 year old girl and as long as I'm careful, you'd never know the difference.
In my not-so-humble opinion, this is as it should be. You don't NEED to know who I am to enjoy my stories. You may need to know where the Pepto Bismal is, but not who I am. It's irrelevent to what I'm trying to get you to do. Frankly, the only time someone needs to know who I am online is when I'm putting my credit card info onto a webpage, and even that should be done a different way, through escrow. Fraud is all over the net, and that's why some people push so hard for ways to fight it. One way is to allow people to set up one AND ONLY ONE Internet account. Then it follows you wherever you go. Like your luggage at the airport. If you're lucky.
Frankly, that sucks. As I just said, you don't need to know jack about me. All you know is that I'm claiming to be Lacy Cornwall and I want you to read this here thingy I wrote. That's the extent of our online relationship. If you want me to read something of yours, I'll read it, but I don't buy for a second that you're who you claim to be. The Internet should be completely anonymous unless money is changing hands. Then I want to know your name, address, shoe size, and the names of the last three people you dated, for my own protection.
I have two Booksie accounts, and this one is fictional. Actually, so is the other one. I use my real name, but my profile data is, as one of my characters once observed, "more shit than a Texas cow pasture". The less you know about me, the better-protected I am. I sometimes fantasize about becoming a Big And Famous Author(TM) and touring the country on books signings. But to be honest, if I had that golden opportunity, I'd hire an actress to play me; someone who would look the way I feel an author SHOULD look. Why spoil the illusion? The Monkees aren't the only ones who couldn't play their instruments.
There's a political writer on the web (I won't say which one, lest I offend someone. It's one thing to talk about hookers, strippers, and drug addicts, but quite another to dig so low as to mention politics.) I think she's absolutely beautiful and while I'm not gay, even I'd do her. Edie Adams felt the same way about Julie Newmar, and quite frankly, MOST women would do Julie Newmar.
But I digress...
The point is that Miss Hot-Pants Commentator can pull it off, but most political writers can't. No one's going to become a groupie for George Will or Matt Drudge. Most folks know what Will looks like, so it's too late for him. If I was Matt Drudge however, before anyone saw my face, I'd have picked out a GQ model and said "Psst! Hey, you. Pretty boy! Wanna job?"
That's how I see it, but not necessarily how you see me.
Caveat lector. Let the reader beware.