4 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Who are you?

It is a legitimate question that may have several answers depending upon where you are at that particular moment in time. People modify their behaviour depending on who they are with and where they are. Your work persona is different to the one in the pub, for example.

The same applies online, a good example of which was started by Dolly Parton where she had four images of herself that represented the ideal image for four social media platforms, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Tinder. The meme went viral, with lots of people interpreting it in their own way. The way that our lives have changed as we are spending much more time online is changing our identities in ways that we have not even considered.

You know who you are and you are probably fortunate in that there is probably something in your home that means that you can identify yourself should you need to. However, around the world that are around a billion people who do not have that luxury so back in 2015, The United Nations committed to reaching a number of development goals, including clause 16.9, ‘Providing legal identity for all’. But how do you set about doing that in a world that you need to be running in, not to be left behind.

One country that has made a strong start in integrating real and online identities is Estonia. They realised back in 1994 that the online world was going to mesh with the real world and have set many things up, such as blockchain and i-voting to enable an online presence. Anyone in the world can apply to be an e-resident of the country and that gives you certain rights. Lots of things here are online now, I have renewed my passport, paid car tax and signed numerous petitions in the vain hope of influencing the political overlords. Most of those have been in vain though…

Tying all of these things together in a virtual environment is proving challenging as private companies have different ID requirements to the government who all seem to have their own specific requirements. As complicated as this is there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of plans should some part of the data that you use to identify yourself be compromised. This data can be used for good and bad, Follows, an example of the way that South Korea used personal data to control and manage the Covid pandemic is as impressive as it is worrying.

When it hasn’t descended into a cesspit, social media can sometimes be great. In amongst its many faults is the problem with the younger generation seeing the ‘celebrities’ and influencers people often feel inadequate and left out and how they are creating two accounts, a ‘Rintsa’ one where you present the image that you want to portray to the outside world and a ‘Finsta’ account that is the real, unadulterated you.

It is a wide-ranging book coving all sorts of details about the modern interlinked world and the challenges we face. There are chapters on replacing you, enhancing you and even destroy you, or at least your digital presence. Thankfully Follows deals with these issues in a very readable way, taking time to clearly lay out the positives and negatives of our fast-changing lives. If you have any form of digital presence then this is essential reading.

Spread the love