Social software, web-friends, blogs, human connection, gender-swapping, breach of trust, deceit – just another day on the internet folks, nothing to see here, move along.
I’m attracted to this weird piece for so many reasons. It contains social networking, human connection, breach of trust, and one man’s story about how he is managing to handle (or not handle?) his life.
It is the story of a man named Odin Soli who created an online persona named Layne Johnson and wrote detailed, personal daily diaries about her life, her loves, her trials, and her tribulations. Layne “met” many of her readers online, she was available to be contacted on all the social networking sites, and she developed a large social network of people who directly and indirectly shared their own lives with her and her community. And then it all stopped. It turns out that Odin got too busy to keep up the charade and so he pulled the plug on this project.
This story says so many things. It speaks of the human connection that so many people seek and more and more people are going online to find it. Hence the boom in online dating. It also speaks of the complexities of human emotion when people have trusted in somebody and then had that trust broken. Some of Layne’s community feel that the creator owes them an apology, others think he should be congratulated for having created such a compelling story. It also speaks of the complex processes inherent in dealing with and handling one’s own life. This guy decided to handle his impending shortened life by writing a two-way dialogue with a community of people. This guy in a different article managed to work out the issues in his life by building a car completely covered in shells. Who needs a therapist when you can paste 400 pounds of shells on your Honda or build a three-year running web-series with a huge subscriber base? And the story also embodies something that has been noticed about the internet community as far back as the text-based MUDs (multi-user dungeons) adventure sites – namely gender-swapping, just because you can. For an interesting paper on this, I recommend reading Amy Bruckman’s paper that she wrote at MIT back in 1992.