Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The other Sean posted today a link to this website called Athlinks which is like MySpace for runners. I immediately signed up! It takes all of the races you've run and automatically plops them on a page for you, so you and others on the net can gaze in stunned awe at your accomplishments. If you're lucky, you'll get a few more races on there from other folks with the same name. Hopefully they're faster than you.

So I've signed up for YET ANOTHER free internet myfacebookspace service that asks for my bio and email address and whatnot. We are all marketing targets in this day and age, and I know that the more of these things I sign on to, the bigger those red circles get on my back. Ho hum, I'm not particularly bothered by it. Yet. You can't fight it son, they already know where you are! Thankfully, my Mac email filter sifts through all the junk pretty well. And I have one password that I use for all of these things. (It's "upyours2" if you wanted to know. It's six letters and a number, easy to remember, states how I feel, and I don't care who knows it. Want to hack into my sites? Go for it! If you have that much free time, you deserve the distraction. And I can always change it to "sukit4ever".)

The Athlinks site is kinda cool, though. I'm always sifting through my old running files to see how I performed and with what training strategy I used, so this is a nifty tool to keep it all in one place. I'm also interested in checking out my buddy's gear and their recent times and stuff, too, so it should be fun. Running is a communal event (some would argue that it's the communal event) so sites like this are good, I think.

Some people freak out about all the info that's on them out there on the Internet and it's an understandable concern. There's more than we realize, too, so if you're prone to anxiety about your identity then you're better off if you unplug the computer. I easily found a site recently that had every address I've ever lived at since 1987 and it was kinda helpful, actually, because I had lost some of those old addresses! It also had every permutation of name spelling, schools attended, various ages, and a few other mildly significant (and often incorrect) quantities. I've considered entering misinformation every time I'm asked, off by one or two data points, to throw off any future bill collectors or drunk dialers -but then I realized it's just easier to pay the bills and answer the phone.

Some people don't want to be found, I know. Some people want to live in stark anonymity and to them I say, how unfortunate for you that you were born in this age! As well, there's probably a website that flags everyone who is not connectable, thus categorizing them under the "probably problematic" heading. And then there are the people who want to be found, who would paint their names on billboards if they had a ladder handy. People who spend hours pining for celebrity and recognition -like it would increase their actual self-worth, without toughing out the difficult, thankless work of integrity itself.

And then there's the rest of us. You can find me if you look hard enough -and you don't even have to look all that hard. I keep my Social Security number to myself but other than that I don't have much to hide, and even less to impress. I'm over here going about my business in the suburbs, probably the most anonymous place in America, but sometimes I go looking for you, too. Who knows? In that vast cybernetic wasteland, we may find each other.

People do.