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Liar, Liar…

"You can be anything you want to be online. Why do so many people choose stupid?"

If you read this blog... do you trust me?

Why...?

I’ll confess I am an inherently trusting person– trust is my default setting and I'm always shocked and hurt upon discovering I can't trust someone in the way I thought I could. That extends to online interactions and the social medias; to blogging, to Twitter, to Internet dating.

I was accused of lying on this blog in an anonymous comment a few weeks ago. It's not the first time I've been accused of lying. But it's the first time that accusation came with no emotional undertones, no nastiness and blame. This accusation was based on my facts not adding up, mathematically.

And it just pissed off no end.

It pissed me off more that it made it's way under my skin, when we all know most anonymous comments are fifty percent troll and twenty percent coward. But it made me seethe, sent me hurtling to defend myself– which is, of course, the best way to make yourself look like you are deceiving someone.

Anyway. I wasn't. And I think it annoyed so much because, dammit, I have done nothing but told the raw truth in this space for the last eighteen months. And I've bled for it, been flagellated not only by strangers but by people who I once thought loved me. And I've stuck firm, held my head up high, cried a thousand tears... and kept writing.

After all that, why would I lie about something so simple, when the story without it would have been enough...? When it was so dramatically coincidentally that it sounded like a fable anyway?

Do I not have enough drama on my blog already?

Whatever. The irony of it is such a kick in the head. I remember, somewhere in the murky haze of those first few days After, waiting with a sliding paranoia for someone to accuse me of lying, call me a troll. Again, it was a story so remarkable that it almost seemed fiction, and I wouldn't be surprised, nor would I blame anyone for it, if there had been a few covert enquiries made to ensure I was telling the truth.

The further we trek into the After, the less I worry about that– it never crosses my mind, to be honest. Surely, the work involved in carrying on such a long, arduous second life would surely be too monstrous to attempt.

Then I read this article and that theory was blown out right out of the interwebs.

Emily Dirr pretended to be someone else for eleven years. Apparently- if you can believe anything at all in this particularly twisted destined-to-become urban myth- she grew with the Internet, from LiveJournal to MySpace to FaceBook, weaving a story that seemed plausible. How many bloggers do you know with extended, blended families; living lives so very different from your own? Isn't that why we read other people’s blogs to begin with?

The story of J.S. Dirr, the digital entity Emily created, only untangled when reality bulged just that little too far past the boundaries of normal. After Dana Dirr, wife and mother to their nineteen children (step, adopted, fostered and natural) was run over on Christmas Eve, while pregnant with another child, on her way to work as a life–saving trauma surgeon.... someone took a closer look.

I can't imagine why, really. Even compared to my story, that seems totally plausible.

Back when I first began blogging- when I was fresh meat at the time and had no real bearing on what was happening- there were a few women I knew on Twitter who, it came out, were duped by another blogger they believed they had supported through both a coma and chemotherapy. Even without knowing the finer details, and only just beginning to form friendships with the innocent parties, the sense of hurt and betrayal when this woman's house of cards fell down was palpable.

They tell you not to believe everything you read, especially here online where identities are only as good as an email address and you can be whoever you please. Don't we all someone who just doesn't seem to add up, who gives you that funny ringing in the back of your mind that something is just not right...?

I've said before, good blogging is good story telling, and that involves omitting some details and emphasizing others. But that's as far as it should go, surely. I know of at least one blogger who is happy to state her blog is thirty percent truth, seventy percent fiction– isn't that pushing the balance of entertaining people with your truth and lying to them a bit too far?

It's a rock and a metaphorical hard place. It's not cynical, just practical and logical, to be aware that some people simply don't have the sense of morals or truth or ethics (call it self–righteousness, for sure) as me or you might possess. It's not something I like– my husband often accused me of living in some kind of fairy land where everyone was inherently good and people could be trusted– but that's life, and forgetting that seems to be an almost guaranteed way of getting yourself hurt, embarrassed or taken advantage of.

But when the Internet is your community, that changes things. I've blogged before about the way online interaction is a healthy substitute for the direct psychical support of other women, other mothers; and IBM seems to agree that the further we hurtle into the 21st century, the more of our socializing will be done online. With that in mind, don't we have a right to assume that the people we are talking to on Twitter or FaceBook, the person who's blog or Tumblr we are following, is authentic, real, flesh and blood and exactly who they say they are?

Probably not. But we don't even have that right when it comes to face to face, In Real Life contact– everything is, potentially, a scam, a lie or a threat.

You tie all those strings together– the digital, the Reality, the mediums used the communicate and the propensity of potential liars around– and you're left with a strange, amateur crochet of an evolving society. Societies become communities when bonds are formed, and for that to happen, there has to be some level of trust, some sense of exposing of your vulnerabilities in the light of people's ability to tread all over them, and their choice not to.

We have a community here. We expect authenticity from the people we feel we have a connection with. If we didn’t, it wouldn't hurt so much, inspire so much anger, when we discover things just aren't what they seem.

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