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The difficulty of proving you exist

edited 2012-02-16 05:46:18 in General
But you never had any to begin with.

Now, before you think I'm getting all bizarrely and uncharacteristically philosophical all of a sudden, I shall note this pertains only to the internet. Anyhow, with that out of the way.

With a select few exceptions, it is physically impossible to prove that you, are, in fact, who you say you are. Evidence can be faked, yadayadayada. This, as a whole, leads to a variety of unfortunate situations that I won't go into detail of here. It also leads to a level of disconnection, due to the problems involved with verifying, that, yes, this human being is in fact this human being. And now I'm rambling, so 8luh8luh.


  • Champion of the Whales

    I think you have to have some scepticism in what other netizens are saying but you have to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  • Dammit, and here I was ready to quote Descartes when it turns out to be a thread about proving you're not a pedophile.

  • But you never had any to begin with.

    That's pretty hard to prove in real life, let alone the internet.

  • If you must eat a phoenix, boil it, do not roast it. This only encourages their mischievous habits.

    It's not that hard if you can link to school records or such.

    Why you would want to is another question.

  • edited 2012-02-16 05:52:31

    ^^I don't know about you, but I tend to default towards "not a pedophile" when I meet new people unless proven otherwise.

    That'll probably change when there's a horde of mini-Legionnaires running around though.

  • One foot in front of the other, every day.

    I fence therefore I am.

  • He who laments and can't let go of the past is forever doomed to solitude.

    @Saigyouji: KITTY! KITTY! KITTY!

  • I'd rather not show my school records and such just because somebody doesn't think I exist.

    Plus, I'm spouting text here, aren't I? And that's really what matters most here.

  • edited 2012-02-16 09:22:51

    Meh. Empiricism is the way to go now. And you shouldn't have too much emotional investment in people on the Net anyway.

  • It's easier to prove whether someone exists in real life, but a determined and skilled enough con-artist could still make you believe in someone who doesn't exist. For that matter, actors do it all the time, at least in the sense of getting you emotionally involved with someone fictional.

    ^ Seconding this, although we're probably all guilty of it to some extent.

  • You can change. You can.

    the notion that caring about people in the internet is wrong kinda bothers me, really. 

  • ^ It's a matter of degree. I don't think it's wrong to have feelings for other people online but not to the extent where it becomes a huge issue in your life. I'm not sure online boyfriends/girlfriends are usually a good idea, for example.

  • You can change. You can.

    Fair enough. I'd argue the same for people in real life, to be quite honest.

  • One foot in front of the other, every day.

    I'm not sure our society is collectively experienced enough with the internet to make a call, really. We've spent ten thousand years in our current state of biological advancement, and therefore have been dealing with modern mental capacities for just as long. And we still haven't mastered this whole "society" thing, let alone made any objective headway in the realms of family, friendship or love. 

  • Meh.  I can think of at least a few tropers who have met me in person, so I'm good.

  • You can change. You can.


  • "Fair enough. I'd argue the same for people in real life, to be quite honest."

    Overly obsessing over people you barely know generally isn't a good idea, but I think verifiability is the main issue that makes Internet interactions less meaningful. Sure, it's possible to put on a fake persona face-to-face, but it's not nearly as easy as it is online. And when I say fake, I don't mean just sockpuppet accounts. People on the Net can easily disguise their feelings by simply planning out what they type, which you don't have the luxury to do in face-to-face conversation (unless you happen to be really good at it) since your body language and manner of speech will give you away.

  • And by looking at this thread, I have deemed that everybody here is using a fake persona.
  • Well, of course. There's a lot of stuff you don't know about me because all I show here is a fraction of what I actually think or do. The rest is unimportant for the purposes of this forum.

  • You can change. You can.

    Yes, but just because you can do something it doesn't mean that you have to do it. Also, human beings are contextual. We behave differently in different situations and environments according to what they demand of us. And I wouldn't say there are many contexts where you have to be one hundred per cent sincere. 

  • Yeah, I guess the fact that it's situational tends to defeat any sweeping generalizations. My argument assumed the same act of disguising oneself in the two different contexts, though considering people seem to (wrongly) assume that the Internet is a more private place, it seems that some people are more inclined to say what they are actually thinking online. Though I still feel less comfortable without conversational cues.

  • You can change. You can.

    People tend to be more sincere on the internet because they aren't bound by the same social expectations that real life has. I mean, I could tell you guys every secret I have and leave and there wouldn't be much of a problem simply because I have no obligation to keep coming here and just do it because I enjoy it, whereas if I did that with any coworkers or schoolmates, then the next day would be incredibly awkward. 

    Also, the pseudonyms help a lot. 

    Of course, you do have a point in that it isn't private and anything you say might be traced to you if you slip up. And sometimes, even if you don't.

  • edited 2012-02-16 15:05:40


    With a select few exceptions, it is physically impossible to prove that you, are, in fact, who you say you are. Evidence can be faked, yadayadayada. This, as a whole, leads to a variety of unfortunate situations that I won't go into detail of here.

    Aye, I suppose one could say that everyone online (or in a particular community) is a bot. It also does seem like people doubt a lot about other people's identities online and some of those doubts are somewhat warranted (e.g., the whole GIRL phenomenon). While I find the distrustful and cold approach to online interactions that such skepticism can create unfortunate, I cannot totally blame people for being cautious given that some people purposely deceive or trick others online.

    Looking on the positive side of this, I think some people find the disguising potential of online interactions rather liberating. The sincerity without social expectations that Juan_Carlos mentioned would be one example of that. I think another is how you choose what you reveal online.

    In most real life situations, you tend to not have much of a choice about whether other people know your approximate age, sex (usually), race, hair color, eye color, voice, name, and such. People may then make conscious or unconscious judgments about who you are or who you "should be" and thus asserting your identity as you believe it becomes that much harder. 

    From what I can tell, you only need to mention such things online if you choose to do so. Plus, unlike in real life social situations where being talkative and engaging in small talk is socially accepted, you need only comment online when you feel like it.

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