Meet the Other You

Pia Farrenkopf died in 2009 in her home in Pontiac, Michigan. But no one knew about it until about a month ago. How could this be? In part, it was because she had set up her bank account to pay her bills automatically. This was a unique case, but it points to a broader trend. There is the you that’s made of flesh and bone. And the you that’s been created via your digital activities. Carmen Maria Machado provides an interesting take in her New Yorker piece: The Afterlife of Pia Farrenkopf. “Farrenkopf had a kind of institutional doppelgänger, as do we all: a presence that forms as we post on social media, shop online, send e-mails, and use the Internet for paying bills, banking, and dozens of other financial and technological transactions. Some of us have more than one. The institutional doppelgänger is hard to see because it shadows our everyday lives so closely. Every so often, though, the curtain twitches, reminding us of its existence.”

+ Your online self might be a lot more popular than your physical self, especially among data brokers who are panning for gold in the digital age.

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