The Mistake, or the Triangulation of Identity on the Early 21st Century Internet
It became apparent to me, after several years of law school, that I had become quite the little researcher. This talent had of course manifested itself earlier, back in the early days of the decade, when the flow of Internet usage was first unstopped by the university connections that than expanded out to encompass all bourgeois households.1
But law school certainly accelerated this process, and being a lawyer even more so, and so little is kept secret anymore. The traces of our human passings have always been recorded; men have left their marks everywhere, in court houses, and in company warehouses, and in the memories of others, since time primeval. In such leavings is all history made and written, and the historians of the ages have combed through these leavings, our old and shiny snake skins, and through their midnight kitchen workings, produced to us the Story of History, delivered to us Whole, Continuous, and Without Any Seams, a full-grown Athena waiting to be discovered.
Now, of course, the leavings have become digitized, or at least partially, and we can reconstruct this strange third-hand knowledge, and build our own Histories from the comforts of our desk chairs and screens, all becoming as we sit a continuous form, a New Eye for Apprehending a New History/Concept Structure of the Universe.
What has happened of course, with all of these leavings, is that we can now find much and much about a person with less and less to start with. Knowing each other’s names, of course, we can find all there is to know. But increasingly, you need even less than that.
Off and on, I have messed around with a dating website, that combines my love of internet surfing and girls to assist me in doing my part for the First Commandment (the one about multiplication).
One of the nice things about this process is the anonymity. Though in short order, one will of course learn all the details of the other’s name, in the interim period of the initial flirting, you can usually get by with a first name.
So it is then.
But then the moment comes where you realize you have learned enough about the person to find them on the Internet, even without a last name. Usually, it requires only three pieces of information. A triangulation of identity.
And you being you, faced with the inevitable boredom of workaday life, faced with the sitting at the screen for hours and hours, you pursue this triangulation, with the added skill of a professional uncoverer, the money trail, as they say on the Wire, and you usually find nothing, or another picture, or a last name, or a job, or a university, or a home town, which allows you to do a little different type of triangulating, namely: hometown, college, occupation = identity (maybe I’m wrong about that one as well), and it’s all boring and ho-hum and no fun and games at all except for:
a) this one time in Greensboro, in the early nascent age of social networking, before Facebook allowed college drop-outs and high-school only miscreants to join the club, and said-self either MySpaced or LiveJournaled Random Girl who Picked Me Up in a Bar, and learned that she thought I was cute & nice;
b) Yesterday, with perhaps five search terms in my Google Triangulation, found an anonymous blog of the girl I took out on a date Sunday night.
Now, it being a work night, or maybe generally because I had revealed little to nothing about myself in an abbreviated back and forth I had had with this young woman, I was not that impressed, and was not sure if she was impressed, but I went for a handshake at the end and she gave me a hug and mentioned something about calling her to do something on the weekend, when she was more interesting, or something — but — whatever.
But then the blog. Which only heightens the maybe, but still.
I, a man of theorems, have had two which seem relevant to this blog, which in its own way, is brilliant and luminous and is evidence of a deep and penetratingly intelligent mind who is particularly skilled a plumbing and describing the mores of social interactions, the foibles of men-folk, and is also, obviously, moved with great passion.
In other words, in some real and important ways, utterly out of my (normal) league.2
I, being at core, a reader, read the whole blog, of course, and learned that in addition to the fact that she is being ‘suaved’ by wealthier and more sophisticated men than I (perhaps because they are older than her), she has also been divorced (unexpected), and has been devastated and wracked and wrecked by that divorce (whenever it happened).
I am intrigued. I am uninteresting and flat and totally conventional next to her, and do not live passionately or fiercely or barely at all. But I am intrigued. And maybe I am a standing post.
She is likely not for me. Yet still – I am intrigued. Why not? I am not horrible looking. I am funny. I can be kind. I suppose I am woolly, and knotty, but I need not and do not dwell in misery. I dwell in light.
Let us posit that I wanted to see her again. What than? Tell her that I’ve learned some secrets about her, that I’ve read confessions not meant to be shared? Give it to her good news, bad news, like? Send her the link to this blog, tit for tat, so she can see the woolly thorniness of mine own wet mind?
Or ask her out, and keep it close; revealing when? It could be a whole Romantic Tragi-Comedy, where I read and learn a girl’s secrets, and make myself her perfect man, and make her fall in love with me, and then, having fallen in love with her, am forced to reveal the ugly truth, that I have known all along about her secret Superman alterego –
What then? Can anything good come of a relationship based on withholding the truth?
Conundrums. But one answer at least, has presented itself. Romantic Tragic-Comedy.
If only there was a better mummer to play my part. I have been an empty puppet for two years almost, getting a long. Where is the fire? Revive the fire.
Postscript: An unanswered question in this blog — what were the two relevant theorems? (1) First, that all humans are as ontologically deep as all others, and that we are all equally dark wells of infinity; and (2) the Old Story of Jupiter and Semele, where the young boy believes he cannot reveal himself to the the pretty girl, because his Jupiter and she is Semele, and if he was unveil his Magesty, it would destroy her, but in the throes of the moment, when he is confronted by Woman, he learns that in fact he is Semele, and cannot withstand the Fire of Her Truth —
(which is sort of what the Dead is about, revealed to me finally after my brain’s reach had finally met its grasp)
1. There was a time of course, at the beginning of my working life, when money was made unnecessarily tight by my refusal to in any way use a budget, or prepare my own meals, when I thought I could not afford Internet. While another type of man might have thrived in such Luddite simplicity, I found it soul-withering. Somewhat how like now I find that my lapsed New Yorker subscription have left me sort of hollowed out. Oh, the starvation of the nattering class — a periodical strike — what will I think today?
2. In the same ways, that ordinarily, as I learned from our one hour date, she is not in mine, giving my preternatural and wholly non-adaptive quickness. (I move so much quicker than other humans that it bores and pains me to keep pace with them, and so, rather than turning my intelligence upon the myriad ways they are beautiful and wonderful, I move on, and contemplate the expansion of galaxies, or the swirl of the watery deeps, or the nature of life over time, and, accordingly, do not get touched as often as I would otherwise like).