Let me tell you the story of how I lost my identity.

It started off just like any other day. I'd been working on a project and had deactivated my Facebook account because it was distracting me.

That day at school my friends asked me how I managed to delete my Facebook profile.

I assured them that I had only deactivated my account, but in response, I got puzzled looks.

Perplexed, I carried on my business as normal. But there was a strange feeling all day long.

Finally someone told me. The previous night I had apparently created a new Facebook profile, announcing that I'd accidentally deleted my account and had to add everyone again.

What? Alarmed, I quickly searched the recesses of my mind trying to make sense of what I was being told, but no memory seemed to fit. And then it clicked ... I was being impersonated.

I told my friends, but they only laughed at me, thinking it was a joke.
This impersonator was good. He or she had managed to convince my friends by ferreting out personal information.

Obscure photos from my past had suddenly popped up on the account. The identity thief had me right down to the fine details - knowing even the bands I liked. It was all too authentic.

I tried - unsuccessfully - to convince my peers that the impostor was not me. Impostor me got invited to parties, made it into my private groups and had private chats with my friends online, all in my name. I decided to test this impostor. Posing as a friend, I asked personal questions only I, the true me, would know the answers to. The impostor passed ...

I finally managed to convince most of my friends that there was indeed an impostor (some think it was me to this day), but after that, they did not trust me at all. They were careful to chat to me online, respond to my texts or even reply to my emails. I was a social pariah because of that impostor. They felt I had betrayed them, and I hadn't even done anything.

The worst part was that I could not escape. I needed the internet to communicate with my friends, family and classmates.

Whether I liked it or not, social media had become part of my life. I didn't know who to trust. This impostor was clearly someone I knew. I felt victimised.

Then it hit me. The impostor didn't know me well at all. The only reason they were able to impersonate me was because I had let them. I had put up all that personal information on my blogs and profiles.

I had flaunted my private life, and basically invited this impostor in. My photos, interests, I thoughtlessly put out on the web, without stopping for a moment to think of the dangers. I was simply another sheep in the flock.

Then again, I didn't really have a choice. Facebook owns my information.
We live in an era when it is expected for us to have an online identity, when so much happens on the internet, any modern teenager will be completely out of the social loop without internet access. The rumour mills, hot topics, social news and even people's birthdays all exist solely on Facebook.

My generation is forced into this dangerous social climate. The days of anonymity are distant memories. Today, social networking has become so integrated with our real lives that we are defined by our online identities.

Like it or not, the concept of privacy is vanishing. As the next generation takes the helm, it is just another challenge we must accept.
We have no right to want privacy.

Lingliang Zhang, Year 13, Macleans College