July 29, 2004
The great pretenders
Iíve been reading a new book thatís very interesting. Since I started writing this blog about 90 days ago, I started wondering just what blogs are and why people make such a big deal about them. So I went on the internet to educate myself. After looking through a plethora of information on blogging I found two books that looked promising.
The first book, which Iím reading now is titled, Weíve got blog, how weblogs are changing our culture, with introduction by Rebecca blood. The second book is, The Weblog Handbook, by Rebecca Blood. Iíve skimmed through both books and was captivated by the story of weblogs presented inside these pages. Then I settled down and started to read from the beginning.
Weíve got blog is written by bloggers and has great insight into just what this phenomenon is and how it started. I just finished chapter 14 and I wanted to share it with you. Itís the Kaycee Nicole (Swenson) FAQ Version 0.7 by Adam Geitgey, May 22, 2001. It brings up a very good point about the internet that I have felt ever since I was introduced to Instant messenger many years ago; There are some great pretenders on the internet.
The Kaycee Nicole Cancer Hoax was all about a person who made up a fictional female college student, created personal webpages and blogs for her, pretended she had cancer and then faked her death to end it. Over a two year period she fooled nearly everyone. Many people became friends of Kaycee Nicole (who really did not exist) and even sent her cards and gifts. Finally a group of Bloggers at MetaFilter.com uncovered the scam. The perpetrator was the mother of a high school student who started the fictitious character. The mother, Debbie Swenson, took over and started writing a blog as Kaycee Nicole. It became very popular and many people felt compassion for her. After she was found out, Debbie Swenson claimed she did nothing wrong. You can read about it at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kaycee-nicole/links
Iíve met many people on the internet all over the world. One thing we have to remember is that the internet is really not a real entity in and of itself. It takes real people just like you and I sitting at our keyboards to animate it. When we are chatting with people we are chatting with real people who are sitting at a computer across whatever distance and time. Adam Geitgey in his FAQ very astutely said, ďRemember: the Web isnít evil, evil people are evil.Ē
One of the problems and the blessings of the internet are that people can be anonymous. We can know someone by their nicknames and never learn who they really are or where they live or what they do for a living. We often think we know and can read the real person behind the persona. But all those people who got to know Kaycee Nicole were really getting to know Debbie Swenson, and Debbie was pretending.
One of my friends was being stalked by a man who used over 20 different IDís on her MSN group site. Eventually after a lot of harassment and fear, my friend would find out the truth. She had to shut down her sight finally and only readmit the oneís she knew and could verify.
Another one of my friends worked for a law enforcement agency and was tracking down sex offenders on the internet. It was scary hearing about how many of these people operate. It made me think twice about giving any personal information over the internet.
Another friend was taken for a ride by someone she thought was her Ďsoul sisterí They met on the Internet and became friends. Her Ďsisterí moved in with her and then started to get controlling and manipulative. She ran up the long-distance charges on her phone, stole from her and repeatedly lied to her. Finally my friend had to have her Ďsisterí taken away. It was a horrible experience for my friend.
If you follow some of the links at the sight I listed above you will read other examples of people pretending online. ĎSteven Den Besteí concluded that we must, ďTrust but verifyĒ Having been fooled himself, heís now a little more jaded. He said, ďNever gamble more than you can afford to lose.Ē See his entire commentary on this subject at : http://home.san.rr.com/denbeste/trust.html
But in contrast to all of this, I can say that Iíve met some amazing and loving people on the internet, who live all over the world. Iíve shared in sorrows and love with people I have formed relationships with. I didnít write any of this with the intention of generating more hype and fear about the internet or the people we meet online.
All of this does highlight this thought I had: A good person will be genuine and truthful with or without a mask. My father used to say that itís not so important what someone does when they are being watched as it is when they are not being watched. That is a true judge of character. When people on the internet think they are anonymous and no-one knows their true name, sometimes they become bolder and pretend to be what they are not. They are great pretenders. Eventually people see through the lies and they are left empty.
We need to have trust and truth between human beings to function together properly. There is nothing wrong with protecting our true identities for security reasons, but if we are being genuine and truthful on and offline, that will show in everything we do.
Posted by carl1236 at July 29, 2004 11:05 PM | Love your Neighbor