Friday, August 31, 2012

Kaelah's Corner (Aug 2012):

(A picture that formed in my mind when thinking about this topic.
It was not so easy to bring this one to life on my own, though.)

Two days ago, a miracle happened. Tim The Tum returned from the dead. Or, to be less mythical and more precise, his goodbye post turned out to be a horrible hoax. Someone had hacked Tim's blogger account and published a message which Tim had written during his stay in hospital when he wasn't sure how much time he would have left. Tim is fine and the treatment at the hospital obviously also bought him more time, even though his cancer can't be cured. You wouldn't believe how extremely happy I was when I read Tim's return post, in which he explained what had happened. And while it is hard to believe that someone could do something so nasty and in bad taste, the whole incident led to a very unusual and in a beautiful way bizarre situation. Tim commented on his own tribute post which I had written for him to tell me how much he liked it. I would never have expected to get his official approval when I published that post.

Of course, the whole strange and somehow disturbing (especially for Tim!) incident also brought up lots of thoughts about kinky identities and the problems that go along with them. False identities and the stealing of identities are phenomenons which aren't uncommon in the "real" world, either. But in the kinky online community where people are protecting themselves by using nicknames, not giving away personal data and instead creating a second identity, this can be even more of a problem. Tim's case is just a very extreme example.

The first question that always occurs with profiles and comments in the kinky community is whether whatever people share about themselves is the truth. Is Ronnie really a 50 + hospitality professional, happily married and happily spanked by a wonderful husband? And are Bogey and Bacall really a couple of switches from the US? I have to admit that I usually don't doubt the information given by other bloggers or by our commenters here on the blog. The reason is that I don't really see any benefit which would accrue from pretending to be someone else. Our blog, for example, is not a dating site, so the lonely divorced guy in his sixties is as interesting to me (and I assume to most of our readers as well) as the young successful 25 year-old sonny boy. The former might even have more interesting things to say because he has more experiences in life.

Still, false identities remain a problem, especially if one plans to meet a fellow spanko. Some sites try to solve that problem by requiring at least some basic personal real-life data from those who want to participate. And in some cases people are even comfortable with giving away their real name and address to selected trustworthy people, for example when buying tickets for a kinky event. Given the fact that accounts and electronic databases have the inherent risk of being hacked, this isn't an option everyone is comfortable with, though, no matter how vague certain data may be. And even then, creating false accounts or giving false information is still possible, if one is accustomed to some technical tricks.

For those who are or want to become active scene members, events and real personal friendships within the scene can solve the identity problem. If someone has been to a public event and trusted members of the community confirm that, one can at least be sure that the basic data (gender, age and the like) known about the person in question is correct. If people post pictures and others confirm that this is them, all the better. If people are personal friends with trusted scene members, chances grow that what they tell about themselves and their background is true. When I was new to the scene, I only contacted Ludwig and asked him to meet me because I knew that he was a respected member of the kinky community and that I would easily be able to check whether the guy meeting me really was the one from the pictures and clips.

Not wanting to give away any personal data also can turn into a problem for kinksters if someone steals something that belongs to them. I had that problem when I detected cases of copyright infringement and wanted to claim the copyright for my pictures. Of course, there are ways to solve that problem, but working with a second identity doesn't make these things easier. And what if someone doesn't steal copyrighted material but one's second identity, as in Tim's case? In his newest post, Tim writes about the credibility problem which he now faces. How can he prove that he is still alive? How can he prove that the post about his demise was a hoax and that his post about being okay isn't? Ludwig and I could at least post a picture of us, holding the newspaper of the day (like victims of kidnapping sometimes do!).

A related question which has been asked by Secret Spanko is: How does anyone ever know when a fellow spanko really passes away all of a sudden? Especially if said person hasn't told anyone about their second identity? Sometimes bloggers or commenters suddenly disappear, and no one knows where they have gone. Ludwig and I both aren't the types who would stop blogging without writing a proper goodbye post. When I asked Ludwig to give me admin rights for the blog, the possibility that something bad might happen to him and my wish to be able to decide what to do with the blog and our stories, pictures and clips in such a case was one of the aspects we talked about. But what if something bad happened to both of us? I have to admit that I don't have an explicit plan for that case, but some of our vanilla friends know about the blog and maybe one of them would be kind enough to inform our readers about what has happened.

Fortunately, extreme situations like Tim's case only occur very rarely, at least as far as I know. I found out that someone is using one of my pictures as an avatar on a Russian spanking site. But this person doesn't in any way pretend to be me and hasn't cropped out the watermark which is on the picture, either. It's just a symbolic picture for the avatar, and so I don't have any problem with that. I hope that I won't ever have to deal with a similar situation as Tim, though. And I cross my fingers that he will find out who did that to him.

How about you? Has the second identity issue ever caused you any trouble? How often have you come across false identities and comments? And have you ever heard of problems with stolen kinky identities? How about those fellow kinksters who suddenly disappear: Do you wonder where they have gone? I am curious to hear about your thoughts and experiences!

Oh, by the way: If you want to have a proof that Ludwig and I are still alive and kinky, you can participate in the vote for my blogiversary spanking clip which ends on Sunday, September 2nd after 11:59 pm German time.


Ludwig said...

That is one weird and disturbing picture! In a good way, I mean. It is even more impressive when one considers that you shot it on your own, with the timer.

Our Bottoms Burn said...

I thought the picture was from Night of The Mummies.

What we have found is that an online personna seldom matches what the person is really like when you meet them. I don't mean that in a negative way. It's just that people come across different online. You may like the online personna, but not the actual person. Or vice versa.

Steve from Kent said...

That picture reminded me of my St John Ambulance classes as an 11 year old.
(We never got to bandage naked women, unfortunately.)

As for this other business, honestly, I despair at times.
No doubt these trolls would claim that they are exercising freedom of speech in some way. They may have a point in theory, but surely, most of us would argue that certain lines should never be crossed.

I regard the internet as a public place, where people ought to observe the same standards of behaviour as would be expected when meeting face to face in the town centre. Hacking into someone else’s site and stealing their identity – as far as I’m concerned – is equal to breaking into someone’s house and taking their property.

In the UK, measures are being taken to make it easier to identify and prosecute trolls, although this might not be much help to kink bloggers - who would presumably need to reveal their kink identities in the process of complaining.

Quai Franklin said...

I have spent a lot of time over the years trying to think of clever pen names and scene names. The one I ended up with - "Quai Franklin" - is a combination of the 1st name of one of my favorite fictional characters (actually spelled Kwai [Chang Caine]) and my actual first name.

Identity and name changes have caused their share of confusion, especially now that I'm more "out" and that my vanilla friends and family know my stage name. They even know about the "radio" show and podcast to some degree. I'm assuming they listen to the sections they want to hear and skip others....

Have you and Ludwig written before about your names and how you chose them?

Ana said...

LOL! Thank you, Ludwig, for saying that the picture is weird and disturbing. I thought the same but didn't want to be rude. And I have absolutely no idea how you managed this on your own, Kaelah!

For most people I've met r/l after knowing them online, their personas have been a pretty good match. But I only meet very select people and after very careful screening and listening to my intuition. The only real difficulty I find is that usually people don't take me seriously when I insist that I am quieter in person and it's not a reflection of whether I am having a good time. I type a lot; I talk less. :)

But in a more serious vein, I did have the same reaction to Secret Spanko's post. I understand better now why people were appreciative when I posted that I would be taking a brief hiatus. People do worry.

And I have also encountered several cases online when people pretended to be one thing to me and ended up being another. So it's a mixed bag all around.

Donpascual said...

Adopting false identities can be a criminal act if somebody sets up a trap for an internet acquaintance. We try to help members of our community not to fall into such traps.

The more usual fraud is based on a false life stories.

I have been had twice by such people. One turned out to have lost a bet (perhaps)and had to find somebody giving away real information (that was me!) in exchange for 100% lies.
The other one called periodically asking for help on the basis of a life story that could have been straight out of a soap opera. But a lot of that story could be verified (I am not that much of an idiot) which I did. But I never learned all of the truth, and it cost me lot of emotional strength. All together, this was an incredible event.

In hindsight - and that is the good part of my experiences - I have to admit that I learned a lot about the dangers of the internet.

Today, I rely on personal contacts exclusivly. A few virtual encounters are still occurring, such as that with Kaelah, but I am keeping that down to a minimum. All together, I did invest a lot of trust into people I am in virtual contact with, perhaps still too much.

Ludwig said...

@ Quai Franklin: I took my nickname from Ludwig II. of Bavaria, the "fairy tale king" from the 19th century whose name is one of Bavaria's most well-known export products today (there is probably a "King Ludwig Beer Garden" restaraunt in every major city around the world). He was Bavarian like me, and a fairly eccentric and enigmatic character, with a passion for daydreaming and romantic flights of fancy - traits I considered interesting in the context of a kinky blog. I wrote about my choice of nickname in my very first post in 2008, actually.

Kaelah's nickname was inspired by K'Ehleyr, a minor character from Star Trek: The Next Generation, who is half-human and half-Klingon. I am so happy to have a girlfriend who is a proper geek like me (although I am not a Trekkie - my geekdom is rooted in other realms). We changed the spelling of the name to "Kaelah", to make it less cumbersome and prevent copyright issues. "Kaelah" is a regular female name, so no copyrights there.

Emen said...

I'm experiencing one aspect of this. Someone's gone quiet. Not posting or answering emails. She had a large, steady following who loved her talent and her wit. The longer the time stretches the harder it is for me to think that something so good happened in her life she wouldn't want to announce it, or say goodbye if it's goodbye. Her silence sounds like heartbreak to me.

I love the the picture. The determination required to produce an image of such vulnerability is weirdly unsettling. I like that. Given the rest of the post, can I really believe that's you? That you achieved that on your own? That it's me writing this :)

Great post. Beautifully thought out and presented.

Kaelah said...

@ Ludwig:
Thank you, my domcat! I'm very happy that you like the picture (especially since you are the horror fan in the family). :-) Of course I only found out after I had taken the picture that it is indeed possible to set my timer on more than 10 seconds when using the manual mode... ;-)

@ Our Bottoms Burn:
Mummies were indeed an inspiration for the picture!

I seem to be lucky in that the kinksters whom I met in person so far turned out to be as nice or maybe even nicer than I expected them to be. Maybe different in their looks, but if I liked them online, I liked them in person as well. I can see that this doesn't necessarily always have to be true, though!

@ Steve from Kent:
I absolutely agree with you, hacking accounts and stealing identities is not funny but a serious crime. Unfortunately it is difficult to protect oneself, especially if one doesn't want to give away any real-life data.

@ Quai Franklin:
Ludwig already told you a bit about our nicknames. I also wrote a post on that topic a while ago which you can find here.

@ Ana:
I have to admit that I sometimes like the mixture of eroticism and a bit of weirdness. :-) Since I often take pictures for the blog on my own, I have developed some routine over time. It was a bit difficult, though, because those damn bandages didn't really want to stay where they were supposed to be... ;-)

As for your observations about the online scene and the people behind the nicknames, I think you are absolutely right. There are many nice people who turn out to be (more or less) exactly as one would expect given their online personality. And then there are trolls and fakes who pretend to be someone they are not.

@ Donpascual:
Being betrayed by someone whom one trusts is a horrible experience! But I think like you I still put a lot of trust into people whom I meet online. Being aware of the dangers of the internet, I am extremely cautious when it comes to giving away any personal data, though.

@ Emen:
Thank you for your kind comment! Funnily, I didn't really feel vulnerable when I shot the photo. I guess that's because I was completely in charge and fully concentrated on bringing the picture to life which had formed in my head.

Yes, people suddenly going quiet without any obvious reason is something that bothers me, too. I am not good at dealing with chapters that don't have a neat closure.

Lea said...

The situation with Tim is pretty crazy and definitely an extreme. The alternate identities is a tricky thing. Like you state, how would anyone know what happened if one should disappear? I guess it's just something that leaves those of us who know each other online only wondering.

I have an older male top friend who has thought a lot about this stuff. He has a longtime vanilla friend who doesn't know about any of the kink stuff, but he's given him instructions of certain boxes to dispose of before his family goes through his place upon his passing, certain people to call and give the news to. Those people in turn would spread the word to the rest of us.

It's a weird thing to think about, but I guess it's good to have some sort of plan. I too wonder about some of the people who just drop out of sight. I can only hope that it's for good reasons in their lives.

Kaelah said...

@ Lea:
I absolutely agree with you in that it is good to have a plan, especially if one's family doesn't know about one's kink. I know another older male top who has also taken precautionary measures similar to the ones you described. And you are right, one can only hope that those who suddenly disappear do so for happy reasons and not because something sad has happened.