Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Whats All This About Fake Names and Fake Personas?
The only place to put this is on my own "fake persona" blog. Hilarious? Yes. So, pardon me for having a laugh at the expense of others.
Here's what happened: a laid off wingnut with an inflated sense of self worth created a fake account in the name of Paul Krugman and then conjured up a fake opinion based loosely on previous opinions from Krugman. It works as parody for about a minute, but the post went a little too viral and a slew of people reacted as if it were, in fact, something Krugman actually said.
This left a bunch of bloggers scrambling to fix their sites and fix their posts. Why?
When you parody someone (as I did for several years here on this blog), you have to have a point of view. My point of view was, "I'll be a fake person with outrageous beliefs and I'll write in such a way as to create a situation where I can comment on things with that fictional character's back story and perspective." I was inspired to take this path for a number of reasons, but, mostly, I was inspired to do it because I'm a bit of an asshole on the Internet. I wish I had been more mature a few years ago. I might have more friends right now. What you see right now is an attempt to be more mature and thoughtful on the Internet and do better work. Often times, I fail. But I do take ownership of my failure and I don't blame it on anyone else. I own my failure, and I own my failed attempts at humor, parody, commentary, and analysis.
So, I'm a bit of an expert on this whole "fake persona, fake blog, unfunny satire" thing.
Yeah, it got old. Much of what I was saying was not what I really thought, so I was constantly at odds with my point of view and my anger and my failures as a writer and commentator. Much of what I was saying was forced, unfunny, and counterproductive. The joke went stale. The bloom fell off the rose. The idea withered on the vine. And, even though I had a tremendously successful blog with a lot of traffic, it was the wrong traffic for the wrong reasons. So I tore it all up and started all over again. It was great to have a fictional persona and a fictional backstory (which has actually turned into the gift that keeps on giving because I now have a treasure trove of fantastically funny fictional pieces that I can reshape and publish elsewhere).
Best decision ever.
What you see above, in the article image I've posted, is a clear example of fraud and identity theft. To take the real identity of a person who writes and publishes under their own name for academic purposes as well as for a major news publication is blatantly unethical. A parody of Krugman is fine. But to pass off that parody as the real thing without letting people know it's parody borders on the criminal. I think the New York Times could actually make the case that their credibility and their brand was damaged by this incident, and I think Google is none too happy to see their Google+ service used in this way.
What's funny is that poor Carlos could actually understand his own economic situation better if he would take a long, hard, and honest look at what Krugman actually has to say instead of using his time to blow his chances of having a happy and productive experience on Google+.
You cannot go after an academic person for what they did not say. That's the bottom line. You cannot expect to be handed a "do over" because you owned up to it later and tried to be high minded about it. You can definitely go after the things that Krugman has said, and you can be dishonest and pull his words out of context. Your credibility is your own problem in that regard.
If you want to make fun of Krugman, have ass at it. If you want to parody him, get up on it. Contribute your opinions and thoughts. But to take this route and inadvertently damage the credibility of others is sheer asshattery.
And what's even more of a blatant example of buffoonish asshattery is to see the likes of William Jacobson try to weasel his way out of being humiliated:
Any point made, no matter how intellectually dishonest, is fine by Jacobson so long as he can maintain his own standards of intellectual dishonesty and present a "respectable" persona to his readers. Suppose the same thing was done to him, and actually fooled people into thinking he had taken a legal position so outlandish as to call his competence into question? Would he be so sanguine?
No, of course not. Then it would be wrong, see?
That's enough honesty for one night.