Fake ID

Fake IDA while back, Face­book — appar­ent­ly hav­ing run out of snazzy gift — ideas that said “thank you for using our ser­vices” in an under­stat­ed yet pleas­ing way — gift­ed me instead with a social media dop­pel­gänger named Yvonne. The gift arrived in my email box in the form of thou­sands of extra­ne­ous noti­fi­ca­tions. I get noti­fied any time one of Yvonne’s many (seem­ing­ly unsta­ble and to me com­plete­ly unknown) friends does any­thing they deem Face­book-wor­thy. I get noti­fied any time there is a yard sale any­where near Yvonne’s home, which hap­pens to be approx­i­mate­ly 1,000 miles away from where I live. I get noti­fied with reg­u­lar updates about Yvonne’s alma mater, a school whose mys­te­ri­ous insid­er jokes don’t trans­late well if you’ve nev­er been near that cam­pus in your life.

If you ever find your­self pre­sent­ed with the same thoughtful gift, let me just tell you that, short of the wit­ness pro­tec­tion pro­gram, there is no easy way to drop a dop­pel­gänger. I have done every­thing Facebook’s “help” pages sug­gest to report and rem­e­dy the prob­lem. Noth­ing has worked. This week so far I’ve got­ten 594 updates on Yvonne. And for those of you in the area, I can report that the Hazel Green yard sale has girls’ win­ter clothes, sizes 5 and 6.

But just when I thought that no good could come out of the whole sit­u­a­tion, I described it to a friend (in this case I’m using “friend” not in the Face­book sense but based on the tra­di­tion­al defi­ni­tion of “a per­son whom one actu­al­ly knows, likes, and trusts”). And he said (yes, Steve Palmquist of Wind­ing Oak, I’m look­ing at you), “That could make a good book idea. Just throw in a zom­bie or two.”

Huh. You know what? It might make a pret­ty good book idea even with­out the zom­bies. But even bet­ter, it makes a real­ly great char­ac­ter-build­ing exer­cise for young writ­ers of the age groups that are attuned to social media. I can vouch for the fact that a per­son can learn a stag­ger­ing amount about a stranger mere­ly by vic­ar­i­ous­ly expe­ri­enc­ing her Face­book pres­ence. Why not turn things around and use social media as a tool to help your young writ­ers figure out just who their char­ac­ter is?

Ask your young writ­ers to imag­ine a social media profile for their main char­ac­ter. Do they use Pin­ter­est or Face­book, Twit­ter, Insta­gram, or Tum­blr? What games do they play? Do they win? Do they cheat? What would their online profile say? Do they lie when they’re online, and if so, what about? How many peo­ple have “friend­ed” them? What kind of pho­tos do they post? What shop­ping out­lets or social caus­es have they “liked”? Do they spend hours a day online, or almost nev­er pop up? Do they mere­ly lurk, or com­ment on every­thing? The list of char­ac­ter-reveal­ing details could go on and on.

Just make sure to include one final ques­tion: Is character’s name Yvonne?

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5 years ago

What a great exam­ple of how to make lemon­ade out of the “lemons” that life hands us