As a new year begins and we all search to reinvent ourselves, here are a few ideas for those wishing to find out who they really are, and even who they may want to be.
For those who wish to know the past before moving on to the future, you can now can trace your ancestry using genetic genealogy and find out if you are closer to Claudia Schiffer or a monkey. The DNA Ancestry Project, offered by Genebase Systems, allows us to trace our origins based on mutations in our DNA. According to the project info, DNA tests have proven that we all shared a common ancestor anytime between 50,000 and 200,000 years ago. As people migrated out of Africa, genetic mutations occurred in their DNA. As these mutations cemented in the generations that passed, each mutation in our genes today can be linked to a specific time and place in history. By sending a sample of your DNA, obtained through a saliva sample on a cotton swab (provided in the special participation kit on sale for $119) certain mutations that are predominant in certain areas will determine where you come from. Check it out on www.dnaancestryproject.com.
Closer to the monkey? No problem. Just reinvent yourself as an Avatar and make a new start on Second Life, a virtual community populated by Avatars. If you’re not already, you can reinvent yourself as a tall, blue-eyed blonde, find work and buy property. With over 2 million residents, life in Second Life (or SL as it is commonly known) is replete with shopping sites, discotheques, parks and even a red-light district. There are many real-life companies that have set up offices in Second Life, including CNN, Reuters, Cisco, Toyota and Starwood Hotels and Resorts. The government of Sweden even opened an embassy there. SL is a complex system with its own economy (it has its own currency, the Linden Dollar), laws, rules and regulations so if you do decide to reinvent yourself, make sure you have a lot of time on your hands. (www.secondlife.com)
But if you decide to stay in present day reality, then like most of us, you will probably be sending holiday greetings to all your friends on Facebook.
Facebook, like MySpace, Frienster and LinkedIn (a network of professionals with degrees of separation), is one of the many social and professional networking sites that allow people to get in touch and stay connected, one of the many marvels of the internet that have made us more and more dependent on our machinery and the cyber world.
On these sites, you can post up your pictures and tell people as little or as much as you like about yourself. Where you are, what you’re doing, your state of mind and even what you’re eating.
Facebook is about popularity. It is not so much who you are, but who you know, and how many people you know that matters. Facebook has introduced a new concept to friendship: the Facebook friend. A Facebook friend is someone whose news you only know through Facebook because you simply don’t have time (or maybe don’t want to) catch up with in reality. But there’s another type of friend introduced by Facebook: The long lost childhood friend. But here’s the catch: You’ve found your long lost friends. Now what? After exchanging greetings, sending pictures that you wish you could retouch and summarizing the last 30 years of your life in three lines (trust me, it can be done), where do you go from here? I have found it difficult to keep in touch with my childhood friends because I can’t face the momentous task of catching up. A few months ago I found a friend I hadn’t seen in 24 years. We exchanged phone numbers and we’re still waiting to have lunch! (Makes you wonder why you lost touch in the first place).
Never before have people been as connected as they are now. Virtually at least. But as we stare at our screens and “touch someone”, do we realize how disconnected we have actually become from reality and the people around us? How dependent we have become on our cyber life? Here’s a test you can do to test how dependent you are on your internet connection: stay at home or office for one hour and switch your connection off. Give yourself 10 points for not minding, 5 points if you looked longingly at your laptop and 0 points if you freaked out.