Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Facebook Farce

            The shocking revelation that a woman on Facebook is not who she has claimed to be for the better part of a year isn’t quite as outrageous to some of us as to others. I’ve been around for a while, and I’ve got a paranoid streak when it comes to human beings. I use the old Ronald Reagan motto, “Trust be verify” when dealing with people who want my time, attention, or money. No one in cyberspace is totally who they seem to be, and sometimes it isn’t their fault, but most of the time it is.
            Pony up, men. If you’re reaching middle age and suddenly a much younger and very cute woman online tells you she thinks you’re everything that is great and wonderful in the Universe, you can go ahead and just dump the money out of your wallet and into her account. Do the women who know you in real life think of you? Have you suddenly become much more handsome now that you’ve got a 500 gig hard drive? Do you think someone half your age who has read some humorous essay on your cat’s hairball habit suddenly wants to sleep with you? The reality of it is this, men, and you can print this out and stick it on your refrigerator door; there are more cute women out there wanting to con you than there are those who want you.

            That’s a fact. 
           
            I’m not saying anyone expressing interest in you is a con. I am saying any woman living in another country who speaks little English and has never met you yet wants to marry you is a con. If you’re thirty something and she just got out of High School, let me ask you one question; are you nuts? Really.
            This extends past romance when it gets down to it. The woman who inspired this essay was all over Facebook. She was allegedly pregnant by one of her Facebook friends. She had some weird disease. She worked with children in a cancer ward. She was everything to everyone but then…She was outed recently as a fraud by someone claiming to be her husband and only now the cross referencing has begun. This is not the first time this accusation was arisen. This is not the first time she has been accused of pretending to be someone she is not. These are not the first set of people she has fooled, apparently. We may never really know the truth about who this woman is, but we do know there in an inordinate number of people claiming she is a fraud.
            I mistrust human beings in the very best of circumstance, and people, male or female, who befriend and pretend to like and love other people, are why. No one can tell who you are on the other side of a computer monitor, but damn, is your life so bad you feel like you have to invent someone for the people of Facebook to like? These are people who made Farmville famous. They’ll like anyone who will leave a nice comment about some stray they picked up off the road. They’ll spend half a day going back and forth about show sizes and…wait, I’ve done those things, nevermind. But the point is not to invest your life in strangers.
            That said, I have good friends, people I know in real life that began as cyberbuddies. There are people I am exceedingly grateful to have met, and shared real time in real places with, and I would not trade them simply because they live in faraway places. But these are people I spoke with on the phone, went to see, ate dinner with, drank with, and pretty much hung around with just like I had met them in a coffee shop or a riot after a Sarah Brightman concert.
            Here is a comment I left on Facebook in regard to the person in question, and I stand by it here; “In some way, Lizzie was what we all wanted her to be. The friends she made here, in this place, if you can call them that, helped shape her work of fiction each day, and within each and every one of us, part of the story was written. I’m not saying that she was a victim or that she should not be accountable for what she did here, but I am saying that she fit a need, some yearning in the people she performed for. We, as the people who cared about someone else, even if it does turn out she was a fictional character, are not diminished for caring, or for trying to help, or for simply enjoying the company of that character. Do not ever feel foolish for compassion, or friendship. Is there a lesson to be learned here? Cerainly. It is this: If she was an actress and we her audience, then look at the quality of person she pretended to be to entertain us. We created a person we all admired, and could admire, and that reflects well upon who we want, even if that is not who we get. Take Care, Mike”
            In real life, we create the people we have around us. If we treat people fairly, and in a decent manner then they will treat us thusly, or this is how it ought to happen. Our friends will only be as good to us as we are to them. We can trust people no further than they can trust us in real life, and in a lot of cases this is a very good thing. But in cyberspace we cannot tell if the person behind the screen is smiling or smoking a joint, or a fourteen year old girl in Wisconsin who is getting a few kicks by watching someone chase their own tail.
            I cherish the people I have know and have grown to love who I have met online but they are a few among many, a sparsely scattering of stars against a vast empty background. You have to watch out when you wish upon a fallen star, and do not pin your hopes on the promises of people who may not even exist.

Take Care,
Mike

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