I, Avatar

So, I performed an interesting experiment this week. I set up a Facebook account ... under my standard online alias (Rule Number One of online life is "Do NOT trust the internet"). The incongruity of it made me deactivate the account the very next day. One does not use a social networking site, which is a means of relation and communication, under an assumed name. It did lead to some interesting thought waves, on how much of an identity my online avatar, Bruce IV, really has. The entity that is Bruce IV has a body of opinion, beliefs, and opinions very similar (identical, in fact) to my own. That entity is also in my year at school, and lives in my town (although neither the tax agency, nor the university registrar would acknowledge it) (come to think of it, I must find Bruce IV's landlord - Bruce manages to get out of paying rent through the dastardly trick of having no physical presence). But, does Bruce IV really exist? He (Bruce is listed as male in a few spots, for purposes of context), for all intents and purposes, has all my memories, and a mind behind him - he could definitely pass a Turing test. However, Facebook provides a breaking point for his identity. While Bruce IV has all my memories, experiences, and opinions, he does not have my friends. He, in fact, lacks any sort of real relationship, having only an academic (if that) connection to the similar entities of "Mr. Fusion", "Uncle Dave", and their ilk in various blog-based debates. So, who or what is Bruce IV? He is an expression, a face I present to the online world - in short, a mask. Masks, though they have a distinct shape and appearance, have no life apart from the one that wears them. So, the moral of the story is: make your Facebook under your own name - you can lock down your personal information from the net at large well enough to protect it from unknown eyes. And a final incongruity - this post is signed Bruce IV - giving that avatar the human quality of introspection. Life's an irony.