Sunday, 24 November 2013


Fakebook Nation : Makeshift Studios

Someday, we will all live in the virtual world (we are half ways there already). When that day arrives there will be little reason for us to rise from our chairs and venture out into the external world. We will spend our days following virtual footprints on our laptops, palm-tops, tablets, smartphones, glass, transparent surface receivers (TSR's)....

But then...

It was a random thought. One of those 'what if' moments.... So, 'what if' I made up a few names and then checked them out to see if they appeared on Facebook? Yeah, I thought, it's plausible, but why would I do that? To prove the amazing interconnectivity of modern life and see where such an adventure in cyberspace took me? Maybe.

Random names actually came quite easily.

I was lying awake in the early morning in a little village called Great Broughton in the English Lakes. Randomly I thought of the name T.H. I had made a name up out of nothing, it was the first thing that leapt into my mind and several others followed. I wrote them all down on a notepad I keep by my bedside. This was my starting point now I had to find out if I could find them on the internet, if they did exist, and especially Facebook.

Downstairs with a cup of coffee by my side and the dog at my feet I started to check out my first random creation - T.H. - to discover if he had a cyberspace existence.

The whole enterprise had the feel of a Mary Shelley novel. I was Victor Frankenstein bringing by own subconscious monster to life (hopefully) but without the violence or torchbearing villagers showing up at the door.

I had worked out that there may, indeed, be more than one T.H. and decided that if that were the case I would take the first one I came to and disregard the rest. In the event there were 24 Facebook entries bearing the name T.H. It was not that common but neither was it totally obscure. John Smith, I had already realised, would have been a bad idea.

I wanted to find out what I could discover about random people, and, in this case, people I had created myself. I do have experience of tracking down sources, researching and finding things out so, naturally, I wanted to find out as much information as I could about the random T.H..

To be honest the first T.H. I came to turned out to be a cartoonist and writer from Blackpool, Lancashire, now living in Hyde, Tameside. I soon had this gentleman's details, postal and email address and I had a rough idea of his age and also knew there was a fairly good chance I could nail this too If I had wanted to.

It is worth reminding people that I have about as much knowledge of the internet and cyberspace as the average person, but there are search techniques that can be used to find people from the information they leave lying around on the internet. Sometimes it is as simple as picking up a few clues and following them.

Of course, now that I had tracked my random creation down, the logical step, I thought, was to make contact.

I wrote an email explaining, or, at least, trying to explain what I was doing and how I had chosen his name at random and invited him to provide us with a quote for the blog. The email was written late on Friday evening, and I realise that it might be, or is, a business email and he might not even pick up until Monday morning - but I wll keep you informed.

At the same time, I couldn't help but wonder what he would make of my intrusion into his life, this random creation of mine who, as it turns out, actually exists ( in fact there are 24 of them on Fakebook - sorry, typo, Facebook). I was curious and wondered how he would read this slightly madcap email I had written him.

Hi! ...I randomly selected your name from my head and decided...

Maybe he thinks I am a little unhinged....or one of those Nigerian 419 scammers...

As I sat in the kitchen with my laptop open and T.H.'s details before me, I decided to think of an even more random name, a more difficult name, a more obscure random friend.

I thought, J.C. and chuckled to myself, it was a name probably lifted subconsciously from a Robert Louis Stevenson tale, a mad pirate who hunts treasure across the oceans of the world. It was, I have to admit, fiendishly outlandish and an unlikely title for anyone to have. I would be surprised if I even came close to finding anyone by that name. I googled, still chuckling to myself, it is a great name but no one...

My mouth dropped open, there was one entry, that's all. I followed the trail, J.C., I soon discover, is a poet from White Plains, New York.

I pinch myself to make sure I am awake, the dog whimpers...looks up at me his eyes pleading...yes, I agree with him, this is getting scary...

By now, however, November has spawned a monster. The big tree outside sways in the breeze and casts a huge shadow on the kitchen wall of the cottage. What if I wrote down christian names, Jane, Mary, Faith, Andy, Philip, Alan, Hayleigh, Marion, John... and then some surnames, McKenzie, Bloomberg, Carson, Ramires, Bostock, Collins, Fisher, Gill... mix them up, close my eyes and select them blindly...  Now, that really would be random...

Buster, the dog, covered his eyes, whimpered and slid under the kitchen table. 'Don't involve me' he was obviously thinking.

(No response yet from T.H. but let's see what happens)

No comments:

Post a Comment