The Impersonators

Why would anyone want to be me when I sometimes have a problem being me?

I am not on Facebook, but I was there. An impersonator did it. I had no idea until I got a casual call from an acquaintance regarding something else and he asked, “Why don’t you reply to any messages on FB?”

“But I don’t have an account.”

“Rubbish. It is there. Go look it up.”

I did. Sure enough I was there. The profile was hidden but the links linking to ‘me’, who was not me, were all about my sites. I complained. Facebook acted promptly and removed the profile.

It is an interesting phenomenon. Why would a person want to impersonate another? Either there is a vicious motive or the person wants to be in your shoes. I have experienced both in the past when I was impersonated, before networking sites came into the picture. The level of malice is amazing. People who know jackshit about you try to malign you, create discord and, since one’s writings are public, it is easy to pick them up and appear authentic.

The Facebook impersonator would not have been terribly lucky for I often announce that I am not on any social networking sites, so those who know me or of me are aware. The acquaintance who alerted me is not a regular himself nor was he aware of my ‘unavailability’ in the cyber social world.

One can only imagine how visible celebrities become easy targets. It is inexcusable, but it happens quite regularly and can have a damaging effect. I guess that is the reason many have signed up to avoid any confusion.

Just yesterday, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen recounted his experience. “I do not have any Facebook site of my own, and do not intend to open one…the site referred to there, where someone pretending to be me answered questions, had nothing whatsoever to do with me.” Someone was, in fact, responding to queries from readers that contradicted his views. He is understandably upset: “The managers of the Facebook system are not helpful in monitoring the veracity of the sites and communications. I got no help from them...”

I am surprised at this as well as the audacity of the person running the account. It does not seem to be a harmless fan for he was providing skewed ideas. This ought to have alerted the Professor’s fans; they don’t seem to be a smart bunch! The only good thing is that it is in the open. For a less visible person, as in my case, one does not know what happens behind the scenes.

I can only conjecture about the dynamics here. There is some admiration mixed with envy and quite a bit of low self-esteem. The person will publicly praise you, and then there will be private communication that veers from desperate accusations to even more desperate regret. It astounds me to read bits of my life being replicated by a couple of these people. I know about coincidence and serendipity, but please don’t tell me that almost everything I do has been done by another person, when I know the person.

The impersonator personality can, on rare occasion, be truly someone appreciative and wants you to notice her/him. It is a weird way to do so. Then there are ‘plants’ that have been set up to kick up a storm. It is quite pathetic, for they forget that the steaming hot tea cup will scald their own lips.

I have concluded that, given the experiences I have had, being me is not such a bad idea after all.