Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Pretender

Before you read thus post please go here and read.  It's the blog of a friend of mine, Victoria of Persephone Minerals. She is fostering a cat who had turned out to be diabetic and his care is getting very expensive. The fostering agency can only help her so much, so saving this poor kitty's life is turning into quite a burden. She's asking for donations - not much, but if you can help, please do. Even a few dollars can make a difference.


I'm not going to talk about perfume today. I know I've been gone for a bit, but the holidays were madness for me, as I imagine they were for most of you. But I have lots of stuff I'm going to sniff out for you in the coming year, and hopefully my sinusses won't cut of my sense of smell again, the way they did for pretty much the entire month of November. Spring is not so far away, and I can imagine the gentle aroma of damp earth and daffodils already. Or is that just wishful thinking?

I think every one of has imagined now and again what it would be like to run away from our troubles and start over as someone else. People have been pretending to be someone else for, well, probably as long as there have been people. There are a lot of reasons someone might want to walk away from one life and start a new one somewhere else. Some are good - some aren't. But it's a lot of work getting a new, real-life identity. Not on the internet, though. On-line it's so easy to be someone you're not. Someone taller, or better-looking, or more interesting.

In so many ways, the internet can be a giant RPG. Safe in our own homes we can escape the everyday and be anyone we want to be. Maybe your daily life is stressful and you need an outlet. Maybe you're part of a gaming guild or a group that encourages alter-ego role-playing on various boards and such. And do you really want to tell them that you, Rashkarl Bloodfang the Omnipotent uber-Dwarf, are actually 13 year old Suzie Watkins in Omaha?

Or maybe you wonder what your life might have been if you'd made a few different decisions? If you weren't middle-aged, married with kids and ordinary. You might be perfectly happy with your life, but sometimes it's nice to log and be someone else for awhile. The interesting, care-free twenty-something you used to be. I'm not talking about cyber affairs, just creating a you that's in a different place in their life, more idealised than the person you are now. Different friends in different places where you can talk about things other than kids and husbands and house-cleaning.

I like to think that this is what happened with Grey. At least in the beginning. When she logged onto her computer as Georgiana Grey, she was the woman she was before the kids and the husband. Or the person she might have been if she'd led a life that was a little more eclectic, a little less ordinary.

We experience the internet through a little box and a screen. It's so easy to forget there are other people, real people behind all the chats, the posts, the IM's and emails. Real people with hearts and souls. When you spend a long time in the same groups on the web you tend to form bonds, and some of them are as strong as the bonds you form in real life. That means that, just like in real life, you have the power to help people or hurt them by your actions on-line. When you're truthful about it, that's okay. No one cares if you don't use your real name on the web. Most people would be understanding if you say, 'hey, this is who I am on the web. It's part of me, but not all of me, and I like to keep my day-to-day life seperate." As long as you're not trolling for under-age girls in chat rooms, by and large, most people would be willing to accept your persona knowing that there's more to the story, it's just not relevant here. The web is like that.

It's pretending to be someone else for fun and profit that gets you in trouble. Scamming people. Pretending to be ill, or worse, to garner sympathy and cash. People who do this are, at best, deeply troubled or, at worst, manipulative and dangerous. Sometimes it starts out with just wanting a little attention, a little sympathy or love and it escalates out of control. Let me tell you something: When you get to the point where you are considering faking your own death - I mean really considering it, not just jokingly, but with thoughts towards putting it into practice - Stop. Just stop, right there. Unless you are a witness in a high-level Mob trial and in terrible, legitimate fear for your life, do not cross that line. That's a ticket for a first-class compartment on the Crazy Train and it will not end well.

Because the Internet never forgets. Your past is part of you, always. Like a shadow it follows you wherever you go. No matter how hard you try to hide it, sooner or later, people will see it. That's when people get hurt. Innocent people who loved and trusted you. People who admired you or called you friend. You'll be riding that Train at full speed and it's running over everyone in sight and it just won't stop.

And it won't. You are the only one who can stop it. You have to get off the train, face the mob with their torches and pitchforks and say, you know what? I screwed up. Bad. I'm sorry and I want to fix it. Here's the thing, though. You've got to mean it. And you've got to accept that it will hurt and it will be bad for a long time before it gets better. That's called life; it's the same on the web and off.

If you don't? Well, then I hope you enjoy looking over your shoulder. Because you'll be doing that. Always. That paranoia and that worry at the back of your mind - those will always be there. How many times can you re-invent yourself? How long before it stops being fun? How many times before you run out of places to go? People will find out. They always do, sooner or later. You can't hide your shadow. People will be hurt, and people will be angry. A lot of people will be angry. They'll have a right to be. Especially if you have preyed on them financially or emotionally. People who thought they knew you. And guess what - some of those people are even crazier than you are.  Think about it.

My opinions are my own and always will be. Your mileage may vary.

6 comments:

  1. And this is why I enjoy your blog so much. You state things so eloquently and fairly without bias.

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  2. I agree, very well said. Thanks for taking the time to write this!

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  3. I just needed to say *something*.

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  4. This, this, exactly this. So well-stated!

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