Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Online Fakers

In an online community that I'm active in, someone was recently outed as a faker. In this particular instance, I can't say I'm surprised because she pinged my radar with the majority of her attention-whoring posts. I had nothing concrete, of course, and didn't feel like being bothered enough to dig up any information on her. But it was a huge shock to many people who seemed to be invested in her, liked her, and were friends with her. She stole online photos of other people's children. She had multiple user accounts in a few various online communities.

So you might say she sounds like a bored teenager with too much time on her hands and an attention whoring disorder of some sort. She takes it a step or six further by stealing photos of other's children and claiming them as her own, and creating elaborate lives to go along with these usernames and fake children. She even reached a point where several of her fake children are seriously ill, miscarried, and/or otherwise passed away under tragically sad circumstances. She seems to have accepted gifts and monetary donations from caring people that believed she lost a child. She's incredibly detailed in her stories, many of which borrow details from other stories she's told. She's been caught and she's not remorseful. We're not talking about someone faking a profile and lying over time… we're talking over 40 different known online identities, 99% of whom appear to be lying and faking in one form or another. It's only coming out right now about a few different web sites, but is very likely many more as well.

I can't imagine this girl/woman/old perverted guy has such a boring life that they need to go to this extent to spice things up. I can't imagine that someone without some sort of personality disorder would do something like this. How do people like that, let alone the people they're trying to fool, figure out who The Real Them is? How much is real and how much if fake? How much is experience, and how much is research, studying, and flat out stealing and pasting other people's words? How much is pure fantasy, wishful thinking, and how much is a sick need to be so important to random strangers on the intarwebz that they have to create not one, not two, but forty personas? And if that person comes clean and says, "But I'm not faking NOW, this is the REAL ME!" how can anyone knowingly take that person seriously again? Well, you don't. Ever.

The answer to this seems to be not to ever make personal connections online, not to ever become invested in any online friendships, and assume that anyone and everyone is faking who they really are. Somehow, that doesn't seem like a real solution to the faker problems. I've made some good friends online, and would hate to just toss them because they might be faking. Maybe they are, maybe they're not, but if they are I'll deal with it when it comes up. I'll likely just de-friend them and move on with life. It doesn't do a lot for trusting people, but in all honesty, it's good to withhold some trust from people you know purely online. Caution is usually best to begin with until you can verify beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can trust someone wholly. This is a fact of life, let alone online relationships. Sometimes it seems that we automatically trust people online when they seem to open their lives up to us. You can feel like a heel for thinking someone is faking when they've claimed trauma such as a miscarriage, pregnancy due to a rape, child death, or other serious life events.

Anyway, being online for several years I've seen it all when it comes to online fakers. Nothing shocks me any more. Of course, now that I've said that, I'll be shocked by something someone discovered about someone else that I actually do trust . Such is life, if you're not faking it.

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