From today’s New York Times:

Cellphones are usually used to help people keep track of each other and stay in easy contact. But they are also starting to take on quite a different function — helping users hide their whereabouts, create alibis and generally excuse their bad behavior.

There is nothing new about making excuses or telling fibs. But the lure of alibi networks, their members say, lies partly with the anonymity of the Internet, which lets people find collaborators who disappear as quickly as they appeared. Engaging a freelance deceiver is also less risky than dragging a friend into a ruse. Cellphone-based alibi clubs, which have sprung up in the United States, Europe and Asia, allow people to send out mass text messages to thousands of potential collaborators asking for help. When a willing helper responds, the sender and the helper devise a lie, and the helper then calls the victim with the excuse — not unlike having a friend forge a doctor’s note for a teacher in the pre-digital age.

Ahh, technology. Who could’ve foreseen this at the advent of short messaging? It’ll be interesting to see what the ripple effect of this turns out to be. Some immediate questions come to my mind: Psychographically speaking, will there be distinct consumer groups, ones who subscribe to this and ones who don’t? What effect will improving technology have on the numbers of people who join these networks? What effect will this have on our interactions with each other?

More importantly, is it possible to harness such a network to sell products and/or services? For brand-building? To create tipping points?

Currently, the network here in the States has just under 3,500 members, so we’re just at the beginning of this “phenomenon”.

Read the New York Times article here.

Posted by Rob Fields