Originally uploaded by emdot.
I've been an online person for a long time -- almost eight years. My first online community is still alive and kicking and I consider those people some of my best friends.
This perplexes some people. Like, how can they be your friends? You don't know them.
But what does it mean to know someone? You think because you see someone at work every day that you know them? You don't know them. You think because you hear somebody's voice that you know them? That doesn't let you know them either.
Ultimately it comes down to trust and discretion. You meet certain people and through word, action or deed at some point you decide to trust them or not trust them.
It's the same online. I've found that in active communities it is somewhat possible to figure out if people are honest or not and I'll tell you why: it takes too much effort for people to keep up a lie every day about so many things. On DW, the list-serv that was started in 1997, we went through years of every person writing every day. It is damn near impossible to consistently "be" someone that you aren't. The truth leaks out.
I bring all this up because today I had the wool pulled over my eyes -- and then I had wool and skin pulled back off as a "ha ha just joking!! Isn't it funny?" double prank.
A person who was my flickr friend re-introduced himself to the community as an imposter. A bit of a ha-ha this was an experiment on all y'all. Under the guise of grad-school experiment to see how people react differently to certain genders, my friend said it was done for scientific purposes.
And then later he said ha-ha just kidding that wasn't it at all. Fooled you twice: isn't this hilarious?!
Actually what he said personally to me was:
knew you probably wouldn't find it amusing.When did lying to people become art?
art has no limits, innit.
I guess it would be one thing if he had only been my "contact," but he had been my friend. There were a hundred email written. There were fun songs shared. I pointed him to my friends' sites. I let him in as a friend.
And okay, so a great crime was not committed. But let me just say: it hurts when trust is shattered. And it's confusing when your ground slips away and all of a sudden you don't know what to believe.
I guess it's a little buddhist teaching in groundlessness. What is anything anyway?
But, coming back down to earth for a moment, a point was made and I have taken it: my fantasy was shattered a little bit. My fantasy of great people and good people and true people. My fantasy of no motives and no agendas and no manipulations.
I live my life quite openly and in my fantasy the people in my life live their lives similarly. And I really hate it when I find out that they don't.
My dad would call that a complaint. If I were to tell him about this he would say, "so? what did you expect? these people aren't your friends... they are online images on a fictional community." Or who knows, maybe he would say something else.
So, I guess my point is, yes, I am hurt. But for me, personally, it goes so much farther than that. Because this transgression does not just reflect this one person: he's put my vision of all my contacts in question. It's like he spit on all my windows.
And that makes me sad.
I find solace in knowing that time will go by and loosen the grasp that this disappointment has on my heart. And all I can say is that I am so thankful I didn't share very personal things to this person.
And being thankful I didn't share is a crappy thing to be thankful for.