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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 07:00 AM
Original message
Of lies and egos and online cults of personality.
I've been online since 1983 in one form or another. Over the span of the years since, I've come to see a great many changes in the "online" community. One of the biggest changes since then is the ability of the liar or egotist to hide themselves behind a facade, and of their ability to find willing sycophants who will defend them to any charge, no matter how it's been proven, up to and including their own self-damning posts.

In the 80's when "online" was mostly local BBS' or Compuserve forums and chat, the memberships were small, most everyone knew everyone, or if they didn't, met them or knew someone who had met them. But the biggest priority to everyone there was honesty...your online persona was you in real life. Those who were discovered to be "pretenders" and who lied about themselves were quickly discovered and outed, and then shunned by the community, and they usually went away pretty quickly.

Then something happened.

In the late 80's, a few competitors to Compuserve appeared on the horizon, both intending to recruit membership to their sites from Compuserve to their live chat sites. One of those competitors was named American People Link (or Plink as it became known to it's users). Based out of Chicago, it launched itself with a series of full page ads in all of the computer magazines of the day. In those ads, comprised of 3 panels, a rather unassuming, overweight, balding middle aged man wearing glasses and wearing a suit appeared. (Joe computer nerd?) In the next panel, he's dressed in tights and holding on to a trapeze over his head. In the third, he's dressed as a fireman holding a hose in his hands. Other ads also appeared, with this same "everyguy" in the first panel, and in various and sundry roles in the other two. All of them were captioned in bold across the bottom: "You Can Be Anyone You Want To Be At American People Link".

Most of the "veterans" of the still small online community were sickened. Here was a company openly advocating for folks to go online and create a new persona for yourself. In effect, to lie to everyone else, who would also willingly lie to you. That may have been fine if it had limited itself to only one service, but the idea of creating false personas must had had it's sick appeal to a lot of people who might not be living their "dream" life. Soon, all the boards and message areas were finding more and more members who were living a dual life - their mundane everyday existence and some alter ego they presented via chat rooms at night.

Fast forward to the internet age.

Now days any person with $200 (if that much) for a computer and as little as $5 a month for an ISP can be anyone they claim to be. Cults of personality soon follow, where their "leader" can do no wrong, and who are rabidly defended against any and all accusers, no matter the real facts presented.

A few years ago, I participated on a web site devoted to online games. Nothing fancy, I joined to play spades, hearts, solitaire, and slot machines. Most all of the games also had simultaneous chat. In one chat room for one slot game, I encountered a bunch of seemingly fun loving, high spirited people. I liked the cutting up and such, and stuck around - it became my "online home" as it were. After a few months, you got to know the regulars ("regs" in their parlance) and got to know about them. Soon thereafter, I found out a lot of them were in grief over a reg who'd died. There were also numerous online affairs, a lot of silly chest beating, mass character assassinations and such crap.

One woman in particular seemed to be behind a lot of it, either by making direct accusations or by having her group of minions do the attacking for her. Despite the fact that most everyone seemed to acknowledge she was somewhat vicious, everyone also seemed to let her get away with it. She maintained a separate web board, where she invited those she liked to participate in sharing poetry, art, jokes and discussions and personal photos of themselves and their families. A lot of people seemed to suck up to her just to win her approval (and invitation to her site).

She portrayed herself as the eternal victim of life's bad things. She was 29, never been married, one of seven kids of a military family, and had a twin brother who was gay who'd been bashed for it all his life and who died to a drunk driver. As for herself, she owned a flooring store, was a sharpshooter, a bowhunter, and couldn't have children because she'd been brutally raped as a teenager. (As someone commented to me once the dust settled: "How many victim cards can you hold in your own hand to play?") She also claimed to have a 25 year old roommate (with a very unusual name, as was her own first name) and often mentioned a "best friend" whom she talked to about everything.

One night her and her attack dogs absolutely tore into an acquaintance of mine over some trifling thing the self appointed queen of the chat room didn't like. They reduced a 33 year old woman to tears and continued to deride her until she logged off the system. A friend sent me a PM about it, we hear the friend's side and knew she wasn't the type to stir the pot. We decided to start googling and see what we
might come up with. It didn't take long. The web has some wonderful tools if you have a bit of patience and think logically.

We searched the web a bit and found out the resources on genealogy sites were wonderful. Knowing nothing more than her first name, we found her posts on a genealogy web site (that odd first name was a dead giveaway). Crosschecking with the SSDI (Social Security Death Index) revealed just how rare her name was - no one in the U.S. having her name either as a first or middle name had died in the entire US in since records were kept, and that dates back to 1907. What are the odds there's two 'em alive today and both on the net? This got us a last name. More digging revealed her "best friend" wasn't just her best friend, but her husband as well. Birth record database searching revealed her "roommate" was in fact her 22 year old daughter.

In a little over 24 hours, we collected the following info: She was 42 (not 29), had a 22 year old daughter, where she went to high school, the names and birthdates of all six of her brothers and sisters. The "twin" wasn't a twin, he was born 2 years and 3 days after her. Maybe the hubby owned the flooring store, but we found no such record anywhere of any flooring business within 100 miles of her address (yes, we found that too, along with her phone number, listed in her hubby's name). She couldn't possibly have time to "run" a flooring store, she was too busy posting some 30-40 messages a day to a yahoo soap opera fan forum. All of this (with the exception of the SSDI and birth record for her daughter) information was garnered by google searching HER VERY OWN POSTS here and there. All it takes is one piece to start putting the puzzles together.

Of course, when confronted with the facts of her real life, she went into denial and launched the attack dogs. We were immediately accused of "planting" all that information, including being accused by some of being such great hackers we must have placed a forged birth certificate into a state database. We did manage to get some of her followers to jump ship when they realized how they'd been scammed by her. We found out later that she herself had been run out of another room on the same service a year before for doing exactly the same thing we were now accusing her of doing: lying to everyone in order to satisfy her egotistical desire for attention.

In the chat room she'd landed, however, she had so many totally blind followers that no amount of facts were going to deter their allegiance. Most replied with the same lines we've heard before: "She's too nice to be all that." "She's been my friend when I needed one." Pardon me while I barf. Befriending you is what you wanted, and she told you what you wanted to hear and you swallowed all the rest whole without questioning it one iota.

Further checking of stuff not even related to her revealed the "dead" girl everyone was mourning was not only very much alive, but was back in the very same chat room with a different name...turns out she'd also "died" about one year before in another chat room on the same system using yet another online handle. Now how do you feel when you realize you've been mourning for the death of a "friend" who is at that moment sitting in the same chatroom watching you mourn? Betrayed? Outraged? Just plain sick at your stomach? Unfortunately in the online world, things are often not as they seem on the surface.

Fast forward to now.

A fellow DUer commented in the lounge about googling everyone. As paranoid as it sounds, maybe sometimes it's not a bad idea. Look at the wonderful things DUers and various bloggers have found out about this whole Gannon/Guckert affair. All it took is someone willing to say "wtf?" and start a bit of digging.

The real question is WHY these people lie in the first place. In the case of some, maybe it's building a somehow "better" life online than the miserable existence of your day to day real life. Maybe they have to portray themselves as some kind of victim to garner sympathy as the "inside track" to feeling like they "belong" to a group. For others, maybe they start out with good intentions, but a part of them gets caught up in the fame that being a person of notoriety online in any community.

Fame that once it's tickled the old ego a bit, leads to seeking more and more fame, to have to surround yourself with only those who see things "your way" 100% of the time, who laud you for every comment you make, even if it might not be based in truth or reality.

This of course, leads the very ones who coerce others to see things only their way to be coerced themselves by others who see an opportunity to use them for their own purposes. Their own ego convinces them that "those folks don't appreciate me enough", and guides them to listen to the false fawning of those who are in fact
diametrically opposed to the very view they deep down believe in. They allow themselves to be lauded ("Oh, joy!" the ego cries) by the same folks who view them merely as a tool to be used and disposed of.

Hitler surrounded himself with "yes men" too, as does our current misadministration. The difference is Hitler treated his sycophants better than the current fascists do. They were rewarded - today, you're tossed aside when you are no longer "useful" to the Reich. Being tossed aside is gonna be one huge ass blow to that old ego, and
sometimes the truth hurts like hell. Maybe those who sell out will learn and see the light and the errancy of their actions? Personally, I'm not holding my breath.

I'm not advocating we sink into some paranoid background checking depravity where everyone is looked at with a jaundiced eye, but don't be quite so willing to believe everything as it's presented to you. If it sounds fishy, ask questions - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If your "friends" cannot allow themselves to be your friend unless you never question them or never disagree with them, then it's probably no friend to begin with.

There's a lot of folks here who are feeling quite sick at the moment, for having seen someone they thought a friend betray them and drink the Kool-Aid willingly offered by the dark side. But then again, maybe you yourself took a few sips of that friend's Kool-Aid in not asking a few more questions instead of fawning over an ego-driven list of accomplishments.

Trust is (or should be) something that is earned, not given. No matter how good anyone's list of accomplishments are, does that necessarily mean we should trust them any more or any less than someone with a lesser list of same? Or no list at all? Being a "friend" or helping others doesn't always have to be driven by good intentions, it may be just another ego looking for some stroking.

Comments welcome. Flames to /dev/null

Peace to all.

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Catherine Vincent Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 07:04 AM
Response to Original message
1. You are awesome dude (or dudette.)
I am nominating this. :thumbsup:
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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 07:14 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. Thanks!
(And this time I even used the spell checker!)

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Catherine Vincent Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 07:06 AM
Response to Original message
2. Btw, I started a thread with one of your posts.
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DemBones DemBones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 07:14 AM
Response to Original message
4. Yes, indeed. Some people are pathological liars
Edited on Sun Feb-27-05 07:18 AM by DemBones DemBones
and those of us who aren't are usually shocked when we realize we've been lied to.
Fortunately, after it happens a few times, you get better at spotting them and you don't buy into their dramas.

Edit: And, I should add, many people are users who will take advantage of others' generosity as long as they can. Not necessarily financial generosity but generosity in accepting and supporting the user emotionally. It's for these people that the saying "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me" was coined.
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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 07:26 AM
Response to Reply #4
7. Indeed, once you get the idea, they are eazy to spot
Once I had outed those folks on the game site, word got around, and suddenly I'm approached by countless others wanting me to "look at" a friend/lover/online pal/whatever.

I declined. Sometimes when walking through too much of everyone's refuse, even the good things start to smell all too frequently of shit.

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TomClash Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 07:15 AM
Response to Original message
5. Interesting and not surprising
but is this any different from similar escapist acts in other media?
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displacedtexan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 07:16 AM
Response to Original message
6. "Munchausen syndrome by proxy" (Make that "by internet")???
You've discovered a new and unusual type of "factitious disorder!"

I've always been fascinated by people who go to great lengths to get attention.

Here's a link to the excerpt below:

Marc D. Feldman, M.D.

Jenny (a pseudonym) was one of those "invisible" people we all know and overlook each day. A secretary for a manufacturing company, Jenny was as a diligent employee, but one who hadn't developed many friends at work. Nevertheless, she seemed to find all the companionship she needed in her relationship with her live-in boyfriend. Week in and week out, her world seemed never to change, and yet she seemed satisfied. Then one day everything, suddenly and quietly, fell apart.

Jenny's boyfriend announced he was leaving her: he had fallen in love with another woman and was moving out. Horrified and adrift, with no one to call on for comfort, Jenny chose a remarkable way out of her loneliness. She mobilized an instant support network by showing up at work one day and announcing, "I've just been diagnosed with breast cancer. And it's too late. It's terminal."

It was also a lie. Jenny had found a remarkable and desperate way to mobilize an instant support network of sympathetic co-workers. Eventually she enrolled in a breast cancer support group, shaved her head to mimic the effects of chemotherapy, and dieted to lose 50 pounds all to keep the illusion alive.

Jenny was suffering not only from a broken heart, but from an emotional ailment called "factitious disorder." People with factitious disorder feign or actually induce illness in themselves, typically to garner the nurturance of others. In bizarre cases called "Munchausen syndrome by proxy," they even falsify illness in another person (such as their own children) in order to garner attention and sympathy for themselves as the heroic caregiver.

Thanks for the great post!
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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 07:37 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. Thanks for the great link!
I knew of Munchhausen's, but not of factitious disorder.

I guess it's easier here, you don't have to shave your head.

That was what led to the "dead" girl being outed. I found out she claimed to live somewhat close, so I proposed we meet over dinner sometime. There was a virtual torrent of excuses, each more flimsy than the one before that got launched, despite constantly telling me she'd love to meet me. She claimed she'd been in a wheelchair for 3 years, and I'd bet dollars to doughnuts I'd be very aware of how poor her "learned overnight" wheelchair handling skills were....not to mention she'd have to buy one to complete the scam.

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ElectroPrincess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 12:56 PM
Response to Reply #6
33. Factitious Disorder: I'm filing that one away :-). Thanks! /eom
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ultraist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 03:26 PM
Response to Reply #33
45. On the street, factitious disorder is simply "con artist"
Con artists are master liars, crave attention, and are often very dramatic.
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Why Syzygy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 07:47 AM
Response to Original message
9. well you know what?
there are back stabbers in R.L. too.

Should come as no surprise that some of them are online.

I don't know about the inside game you're referring to.
It happens.
Why? I have no idea.

It's me! Pure and simple.
Nice post.
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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 11:43 AM
Response to Reply #9
21. It's me! Pure and simple.

Unfortunately it's becaome less and less prevalent - and to some - less and less obvious. I guess I miss the "gold old days" online.

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Crunchy Frog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 08:03 AM
Response to Original message
10. Your post brought back an experience I had with someone
a few years ago. In real life and not online, but had many of the same characteristics.

This was a woman who volunteered for awhile at the Wildlife center I was working at. She seemed to be really nice and really responsible, and everyone liked her. Then she had a really bizzare series of misfortunes happen to her one after another in really quick succession.

First, her roomate robbed her apartment. OK, that's not such and unusual thing, I've had the same thing happen to me. Then, her grandfather got sick and was hospitalized. He seemed to be doing well, and expected to make a complete recovery when he suddenly died. OK, she didn't seem very emotionally distraught for someone who had suffered a sudden and unexpected death in her family, but alright, these things happen. Then her puppy died. She seemed to show more emotion about that than about her grandfather. Then she was hit by a truck while she was driving, and was hospitalized for several days. That was what she told us anyway, she never did contact us from any hospital, or let anyone know it had happened until after she was released. At this point we were starting to get a little suspicious that all this stuff could have happened to her in such a short time. And then, her mother died. Once again, she displayed less emotion than she had when her puppy died. Then she couldn't keep coming in anymore because she had to take in her teenage brother. All of this happened within the course of a couple of months.

I have no idea whether all, or some of these things actually happened. The more things happened, the less plausible it all sounded, especially since there was never any corroborating evidence. If she was interested in creating a persona as a perpetual victim, she did a really good job though.

She eventually just dropped off the face of the Earth, and we never did find out whether any of this stuff actually happened, or what her deal was, but I definitely had the sense that she was creating some sort of artificial persona.

I have no idea who she really was, or what her game was, but it just shows that this sort of thing can happen even with people you are dealing with directly. Of course it's far easier to do this sort of thing in an anonymous online situation.

I'm not really sure what the point of this post is, other than that your post brought up the memory, and it sort of illustrates that anybody can do this, even without the benefit of the internet. Just one more cautionary tale. Unless you really know someone, you don't really know them, even if your relationship with them is a direct person to person one.

Of course, all this stuff may have actually happened to her. I'm just really sceptical due to the lack of corroborating evidence, and her peculiar emotional reactions, or non-reactions.

She at least didn't try to suck money out of anyone. I think it was more an attempt to suck sympathy and emotional energy off of people. It was a very bizzare situation.
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IdaBriggs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 10:13 AM
Response to Reply #10
15. LOL! You should hear the highlights from 2004 for me --
all of which happened! Dead sister, dead great-aunt, dead aunt, one terminal cancer diagnosis, plus pregnancy/miscarriage, drug addiction, assorted family drama and election fraud.

Thank heavens for a sense of humor! :)
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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 11:49 AM
Response to Reply #15
22. I can understand.
Somewhere on the web there's that "stress scale" when it assigns point values to "major events" in your life.

Funny thing was even some "good" things also added stress, in my case, birth of children.

But in 18 months I had piled up birth of a child, a loss of a parent (and associated estate dealings) and divorce. I happened on the web site one night and saw the points I'd earned and cracked up laughing.

However, you have me beat there. And you are absolutely right about keeping your sense of humor. I find it easier to laugh than to cry, and a whole lot easier on the old psyche.
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ultraist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #10
46. Oh, my...sounds like she may have had "delusional disorder"
A personality disorder whereby people make things up, that sound like real life, to garner attention. There are varying degrees of course, as is the case with all personality disorders.
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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 08:48 AM
Response to Original message
11. I google up screen names on occasion
Edited on Sun Feb-27-05 09:41 AM by depakid
Not because I'm paranoid, just curious to see if they've written anything else under that name elsewhere- and sometimes they have.

I don't guess the mods bother with it too much here (no real reason to) but I help run a fast growing site that a bunch of us formed because of similar abuses at another place operated by a fairly well known support organization. Some unbelievably nasty stuff went on there... and unfortunately still does.

I'll check IP's too on occasion, when things don't pass "the smell test," and we have the expertise to do more, if need be. We're serious about protecting our members- and people in our "community" know that (word gets out through "the channels") and so the "problem children" from the other sites don't even bother coming over anymore. Aside from banishing a few interlopers from chat every now and again, we haven't had to ban a member since October- and we've probably picked up 5 or 600 in that time.

So it definitely pays to be cautious- because people will lie, they will manipulate, break others down, try to have affairs, feign suicide attempts- you name it, I've seen it all. Seriously.

And doing what we do, we can't afford to have people playing games- trust and sincerity are our stock in trade- and I'm not being melodramatic when I say that together we've probably saved lives- and certainly kept others from being ruined. Our members would attest to that- in fact more than once, they have.
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Riding this Donkey Donating Member (658 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 09:17 AM
Response to Original message
12. When I was over at the John Edwards blog, we had a girl
who everyone defended, I'll never forget her name (koko14) because she had made many many reasonable posts,

Then people started questioning her because some of her posts seemed odd. But many still protected her because her posts up until then were reasonable. It took a few people to start calling her on some of her posts.

Then after we called her/him on it

koko started calling everyone baby killers for supporting John Kerry, etc.

She basically outed herself. I know we can't do that kind of stuff over here at du, but she had many friends for quite a while, then she became insane, imho.

It is hard for people to not be understanding when things start unraveling for their on line friends.

But buyer beware, you have to be careful, you do not really know this person. Always keep that in perspective and follow your gut instincts.
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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 11:56 AM
Response to Reply #12
23. I call it my spider senses tingling, or it just don't smell right.
I think women call it intuition. :)

By whatever name, I think that once burned, you develop a sense of when it's just "not right" for whatever reason.

I've always followed my initial reactions and impressions. More often than not by a wide margin, it's right. I get into trouble when I second guess myself or allow others to influence my thoughts about it. That itself has cost me a few acquaintances, when I called something in other people and they couldn't or wouldn't see it themselves until the point they got bitten. I guess people live in fear of hearing "I told you so." even though I'm not that kind of person.

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ultraist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 03:52 PM
Response to Reply #23
51. You can pick up inconsistencies that give them away
Someone who is pretending to be someone else, will slip up, even if it's subtle. Both our conscious and subconscious pick up on these inconsistencies. There have been a few on this board I knew were trolls before they outed themselves, they don't always understand the liberal worldview enough to fake it.
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skids Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 09:44 AM
Response to Original message
13. Trust rings/webs.

I don't mean to kick off a discussion about forum technology, but there are some ways that people have dealt with this in the past.

In the world of email, there are "trust rings" where cryptology is used. People sign their emails cryptographically so you know it was from them, and you can endorse other people as legitimate by "signing their key with your key".

On a less paranoid level, there are things like the "Trustflow" system on LiveJournal. At the bottom of this long technical page here: a list of loosly related links.

I think it's important we start taking online trust seriously. There's a bit of a danger of creating "cliques" but just remember, Carl Rove is on the other team :-)
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KaliTracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 09:48 AM
Response to Original message
14. Thanks for this post, I think often people who feel comfortable in
their surroundings because they wouldn't do such a thing are often shocked when it happens -- whether in Real Life or CyberSpace.

Your post also triggered some things in me -- in the early 90s I got involved with a very witty group of chatters -- we had a great time, I learned a lot of easy HTML on the fly to play with trolls' heads (those were the good ol days! *grin*) and a few of us even talked on the phone once in awhile even though we were all spread out over the country.

Let's just say that sometimes intuition is a good thing. Though people can create a fiction around themselves, and become someone else...usually at one time or another they trip up -- or people get tired of the drama if they are playing the drama card. It might take months, or in some cases, depending on the ruse, even years. Some might not believe your assessment -- and unless real danger is involved, one person can't change another person's mind about stuff like this very easily, which is why people in your example person's "inner circle" really didn't want to believe what you and your friends were telling them.

At that time, in the early 90s, even though we were so good at "playing" with trolls, we had someone in our "circle" that really wasn't quite right -- and we should have done something about him, too. But it wasn't until we got together in real-time that more people understood why a few of us were wary of this guy. He didn't get a lot of participation on-line after that, which pissed him off, but he finally went away. It could have been worse, and I'm glad it wasn't.

However, that said, I don't advocate googling everyone -- but that is me. Will I search on-line about something/someone if I get a weird feeling, or need to check something out to corroborate what he/she said that seemed fishy or untrue to me? Perhaps. But I don't think an on-line fact-checker to get into a specific type of forum would be, um, very Democratic. Cyberspace allows us to bring a huge diverse group together all at one time. If the same people were meeting weekly at the local town hall we'd actually have less inkling collectively of who/what each person was for a longer time, (unless someone was a blatant stage seeker), because not everyone can be present at every conversation, and there is no "archive" of conversation that we can replay and rehash. We wouldn't be screening each other at the door, to find out if they were "really" who they said they were, or making each person sign a loyalty oath. Would we?

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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 12:12 PM
Response to Reply #14
24. I think the reason folks refuse to accept their friend "outed"...
...hinges on two things.

One, it's hard to accept that you've been that bad in misjudging of another's character, or that someone you call a friend could actually be guilty of such. It's akin to admitting that Mr. Manson was the guy you referred to as " nice neighbor Charley"

Two, huge helpings of crow aren't easily swallowed in a public environment, even with a lot of salt and pepper and stuff to wash it down with.

I don't think we should devolve into a bunch of finger pointing, background checking paranoids, but a little intuition a month ago seemed to point out a few things a lot of folks were unaware of, and the sharing of that knowledge would have went a long way to avoid what happened here this weekend.

Now how you would advocate that "sharing" with the ruleset forbidding inflammatory posts against another member here is best left to a whole new topic. I also don't want to see it turn into a lynch mob. Rod Serling's "The Monsters Are Coming To Mulberry Street" come to mind way too quickly there.

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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 10:18 AM
Response to Original message
16. Does it matter?
This being a political board, i take each post as it is written, with
some writers remembered from previous work (as it was excellent). When
a writer logs on to this board to promote themself, i can only respect
quality writing, inspiration and whatnot.

Otherwise, i could care less how old anyone is, claims to be, what sex
they are, how fat they are, what state they live in or anything else.
You might be able to scam round here for a while, but over the long
term, spoofing a personality eventually turns up the inconsistencies.

I trust that anyone who writes, is taking an FBI profile to oppose the
most nasty regime to usurp power in the USA, and that alone is brave,
no matter one's age, or sexual preferences. You can google around for
my moniker, and find out i've written on many boards as sweetheart...
and find out as well, that the dark secrets are that i am vehemently
anti-bush repuke, i'm buddhist and i smoke cannabis now and again.
... no personality cult... just fact.

There are people here, who talk like they're running for office, selling
a personality and its views... but why bother on an anonymous board, as
it only makes the chat more inspiring when people surrender their egos
for telling the truth... and once that boundary is past, truth
begets truth.

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ArchTeryx Donating Member (189 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 10:38 AM
Response to Reply #16
18. This is the reason...
...why most of my online friends also happen to be Real Life friends. I was scammed very early on by an expert con man in the early 90s, which nearly resulted in my complete destruction. Since then, I tend to be alot more cautious about anonymous contacts through the net, until I meet them in RL.

I've long thought about whether my own circle of friends was a 'personality cult' despite my wishes, but a recent flamewar I got into proved otherwise. Most of my friends didn't jump in and start flaming my opposition. They remained behind the scenes, helping soften -- but not eliminate -- the blows, sorting truth from flames, and then helped me figure out where I went wrong afterward. I'll take a group like that over a bunch of sycophants anyday.

This is a very DIFFERENT community then the ones I've run in for 15 years, and there's always something of a risk doing that. But the outpouring for Khephra has me convinced I made the right decision to come, even if I'm a lowly newcomer still. THAT will only change with time.

-- ArchTeryx
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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 12:31 PM
Response to Reply #16
26. Does it? here's where I think it does.
It's just a matter of honesty as a matter of principle.

I think for the most part that in the situation I described and you're referring to, that it wouldn't have mattered one whit as to how many friends she'd made if she'd been honest with the details of her life - those who befriended her would have done so anyway - no matter if she was age 19 or 56, 110 lbs. or 300. That being a chat and games site makes it quite a bit different than here. I see what you mean about it doesn't matter as for a person's ability to write eloquently here at DU. The thoughts of the writer override any other "qualities". There it's a different beast, as there's no deep thinking political discussion, it's just chat.

Asked to describe <pick a DU user at random>, we'd probably tend to think of that person more as what they write and feel and truly believe in than some physical manifestation.

Asked to describe <pick a random game site chatroom member> and you're more apt to only remember what they've chosen to tell them about themselves....lies or not.

By starting out in a lie however, she's now locked herself into living those lies she's chosen, and having to create more lies to adapt previous lies to the the day to day changes when she felt she may have been somehow caught at it.

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Walt Starr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 10:32 AM
Response to Original message
17. It should be pretty obvious
The internet has become the largest diceless role playing game in history!

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LizW Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 10:59 AM
Response to Original message
19. Very interesting post
I've been involved in three online communities in the last ten years that I considered my "online home" and where I got to know people and be known fairly well. The people you describe, the prevaricating attention seekers, do show up from time to time. The pattern becomes very recognizable once you have seen it before.

Three or four years ago, I was a regular at a forum where a poster faked her own death (online, not in the real world). Her "friend" who was really her, told us all about the accident, and we were shocked. Their was much mourning. I don't remember how it was discovered that she was faking, but it all finally came irrevocably to light, and the woman even confessed and begged forgiveness.

Some on the forum did research and learned that the online "fake death" happens fairly often, sometimes even in conjunction with a scam to get people to send donations. It's really sad and strange, but not all that surprising, really. There are lots of lonely people in the world.
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NVMojo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 11:42 AM
Response to Original message
20. loneliness may be key here, without the internet, some would have
no life....

This story was fascinating in that this young man created, so adeptly, so many different personalities online and the other young man was so sucked into it...

Internet 'murder' boys told: Never see each other again
BY Andrew Nott and Don Frame

TWO schoolboys at the centre of one of the most bizarre murder plots in British legal history were free today - but banned from ever seeing each other again.

They escaped jail sentences, despite one admitting stabbing the other and his victim pleading guilty to attempting to engineer his own murder.

The two were embroiled in a complicated "matrix of deceit" on the internet, which baffled police and computer experts for months.

When the case came to Manchester Crown Court yesterday, Judge David Maddison said: "Skilled writers of fiction would struggle to conjure up a plot such as this. What is staggering is that this has arisen out of the activities of a 14-year-old boy."

The court heard that the 14-year-old star pupil - the court ruled he could only be referred to as "John" - met 16-year old "Mark" - both false names - on the internet and they struck up a friendship, real as well as cyber.

But the younger boy, depressed, confused and suffering from a psychological disorder, had retreated into the virtual world of the net and lived a fantasy existence.

He created a number of fictitious characters and situations which he manipulated to brainwash his new friend.

The court was told that John had felt an "emotional intimacy" for Mark that he had never felt before - and this, it was said, was the key to the whole extraordinary affair.


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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 12:40 PM
Response to Reply #20
28. Thanks for the link...that is bizarre!
But in all cases of deception, it takes two - someone (evil/lonely/twisted?) to do the deception and someone either lonely or naive enough to believe it all.

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Just Me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 12:29 PM
Response to Original message
25. Wow! Your article should be posted as instructive reading material,...
Edited on Sun Feb-27-05 12:39 PM by Just Me
,...for all those involving themselves in cyber-discussion groups.

My only comment is that, I choose to avoid becoming completely cynical which will render me, from time to time, vulnerable to betrayal. I will not allow a few predators to completely destroy my ability to trust even if I do get burned every once in awhile.

I figure, over time, the deceptive/predatory ones ultimately get screened out leaving the most honorable and trustworthy.
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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 12:52 PM
Response to Reply #25
31. I choose not to be totally cynical as well.
I call my self a "realist" and define that as a cynic with experience to back it up. :)

That said, I just go with my instincts, and those usually let me make the correct decisions. Sometimes being a skeptic is a good thing, at times you just have to follow your heart...but that don't mean you close your eyes and ears to the rest of what's going on around you.

And you're correct that in time, it usually works out - living a life based on lies will eventually get you caught. Our only problem is every time we get 'em screened out, damn if someone don't make a new batch of 'em!

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lonestarnot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 12:38 PM
Response to Original message
27. It's never a good idea to lie.
After reading this long post, that is all I can come up with. LOL
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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 12:53 PM
Response to Reply #27
32. Would you please inform the Chimp in Chief for us?
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lonestarnot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 08:52 AM
Response to Reply #32
63. Bitch won't listen to me! n/t
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eleny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 12:40 PM
Response to Original message
29. Thanks HFH
Since I joined DU this has happened several times. One of those times it was folks who came in to intentionally dupe us as a tactic to make us feel small. When they finally revealed themselves, I thought - fine and who cares. My husband and I have been on the net since the early 90s, before that it was bbs. And still, being in groups, you get collectively duped.

For me, it's best to learn the lesson and move on. No energy spent lighting torches and storming the castle. I need my energy for the biggest fight of this country's life.

All this reminds me of one important learning experience for me. I was considering backing Clark for the Dem nomination. I wrote to Parenti, the Progressive, and asked what he thought of him. Parenti emailed back a few days later advising me that he thought Clark was a war criminal. Okay. Now what. No sense in arguing. I asked for an opinion and received it.

Sometimes you don't even agree with those you admire and maybe sometimes they give you something to think about. But no lighting torches, no forming gangs in the night. No "how dare you!". Just listen, learn and keep moving on. And hope with all the distractions, let downs and loss, I don't waste precious energy as the right wing would have me do.
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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 01:07 PM
Response to Reply #29
34. You're quite welcome!
One of the things I've always said is that those who try to gain stature by standing on the backs of those they've kicked to the curb gained nothing.

I think in the outing of fraudlent online personas, there's more than one kind of reaction to it all. There's the example of how you and your husband take it, there's those who are aghast at it even happening, there's those who will do a little digging beyond that, and there's crusader types who seem to love the challenge of seeing what all they can find. I don't think the crusader types do it for the glory (although some may), it's the challenge of the hunt so to speak.

I think what you mention about not agreeing with even those we admire is the Democratic and liberal movement's greatest asset...the ability to see in more than black and white and to enjoy and even celebrate all those shade in between. Marching together doesn't mean marching in lockstep.

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eleny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 01:21 PM
Response to Reply #34
35. Definitely
I'm a big Mike Malloy fan. The night he announced on his *national* radio program that he was no longer a Dem, I was so conflicted. For a few minutes I even felt small for not leaving the Party for more progressive waters myself. It was an awful evening.

But he had to do what he had to do and I had to accept it. I didn't like that people on the right, all over the country, were probably cheering at what they might perceive as a disintegration of the Dem Party. He wasn't posting on some internet bulletin board. He was broadcasting from coast to coast. So I've had bigger bitter pills to swallow than what's happened here these past few days.
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Misunderestimator Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 02:49 PM
Response to Reply #34
40. "Marching together doesn't mean marching in lockstep."
Just had to repeat that. :)
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Carni Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 12:50 PM
Response to Original message
30. I have a small close set of political friends I met online in 97
There are about eight of us left and the only way a new person gets on the email string is if someone who knows them long term brings them in.

It has truly been a delightful experience knowing these people...
but I to be quite frank in 1997 I didn't know jack about the net and wasn't paranoid like I am now about fakes, trolls and repuke infilitrators.

Even our small group at one point in time had a double agent or two in our was sent by the group to help the member, eventually the *death* of the mole occurred and all sorts of other intrigue took place.

That was pretty freaky and not something I want to get involved with ever again (nothing like thinking some phony whacko has your real info, phone number, name and location)

Now I am rather leery of all online personas in general.

I've never used my real name when writing on the net about political matters, because I don't want to be stalked by some right winged nut...beyond that what you read is what you get.

You can meet someone in person and get duped so I guess this isn't any different!

In any case great post and a good reminder to us all!
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Lars39 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 01:50 PM
Response to Original message
36. Thank you for the insight to the early internet days.
I had no idea. I thought I'd gotten internet savvy, but after reading that, I feel very naive.

People that can work on multiple layers of lies like that are sociopaths,imo.
It would never occur to a normal person to 'die' and then come back to mourn.
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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 02:10 PM
Response to Reply #36
37. I don't know, I think I'll have to admit to that
Call me odd if you will, but one of the things I've had as a recurring thought throught my life was "Who would show up at my funeral, and what would they say about me?" Not out of any morbid sense, but seeing who would be at gravesite might be telling as to whom your true friends were. (I suppose this is less applicable nowdays since we all now have online friends and acquaintances who are mostly prohibitively too far apart to attend even if they wanted to.) It's also something I'd never really do.

I guess for some folks, they advanced it from the "what if..?" stage and decided that online would be a way to "poll the audience" as it were.

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Lars39 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 02:43 PM
Response to Reply #37
39. I think everybody speculates, trying to separate the
acquaintances from the 'true' friends.
But to take it further...mind boggling.
Life's too short to live a lie.
What's a little disturbing is the thought that those people
I've shared information with might not believe me,
because of the people that play these on line games.
Makes it harder to trust.
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Misunderestimator Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 02:28 PM
Response to Original message
38. I enjoy your writing very much....
it's rare that a 20+ paragraph post would keep my interest to not give in to skimming it. Good job! :thumbsup:
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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 03:19 PM
Response to Reply #38
43. Thank you!
I'm glad you've taken the time to read it.

I was concerned when I was composing it early this morning that it might be too long to get people to actually read in depth, as well as wording it to avoid mentioning <those names that cannot be mentioned> because I knew after the original opus thread locking, any similar thread by name would soon to follow, considering it's ability to inflame folks further on both sides. I think I expressed my opinion on that matter already in the original opus thread.

I just wanted to reflect a bit of history online as I've seen it over the years, and open up a dialog on why these things happen, why people do them and why folks allow themselves to be suckered or manipulated by them, as well as to be a warning to those who aren't already in the know that this stuff isn't a rare occurance.

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Blecht Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 02:52 PM
Response to Original message
41. Nominate for Greatest page
And all bow down to Hammies!

Just kidding about the bowing down part. Awesome post. Captures many of my online experiences in a nutshell.

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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 03:22 PM
Response to Reply #41
44. Ya couldn't bow that far anyway!
Us rodents are pretty low to the ground. :)
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Ladyhawk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 02:58 PM
Response to Original message
42. I've run into this myself. :(
"Cults of personality soon follow, where their "leader" can do no wrong, and who are rabidly defended against any and all accusers, no matter the real facts presented."

This is exactly what happened to me on another forum. Unbelievable, but it happens.

If you want to, google away at me, but my screen name isn't unique. In fact, I found someone else who uses my screen name who breeds parrots. I used to breed parrots, so the two of us could easily be confused.

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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #42
47. No reason to google you to begin with...
I don't see any chest thumping or anything that would make those "spider senses" go off anyway.

Now parrots? I so miss mine. :(

During my divorce, I was for a while out of permanent housing, and really couldn't care for my Senegal as he deserved. He had never liked anyone but me, but took right up with a dear old friend who lived alone and suffered from MS. I decided rather than to try to keep both of us in a bad situation, I'd give him to my friend. They've been best of pals ever since, and with her being homebound mostly, he gets far more love and attention than I could have ever given him even today.

But that's another thread in itself. :)

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Ladyhawk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 07:17 PM
Response to Reply #47
58. Wow HamstersFromHell, I'm having to give up my Senegal, too.
I haven't been in the best of health, either. I have some herniated discs that are causing a lot of pain. I've decided my Senegal, Darla, needs a new home because past and current illnesses keep me from giving her the home she deserves. I've filled out the forms for her to go to The Gabriel Foundation, but first I have to get her to a foster home. I'm just starting to shake off a bunch of migraines that were sidelining me, so hopefully I can make the trip soon. (I think part of my problem is I know it's going to be hard to let her go and I don't want to deal with that.)

Here she is:

I raised her from the egg.

Funny world, isn't it? We both ended up with health problems that led us to finding our Senegal parrots new homes. *shakes head*

I hope your MS is in remission and that you are feeling better. I'm also glad your little Senegal found a good home and that you had the compassion to give him up. That's very, very difficult.

I trust The Gabriel Foundation to find Darla a good home. I'm keeping my Amazon, who is currently "being wet" on my shower curtain rod. :)
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Lars39 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 03:47 PM
Response to Reply #42
50. I saw that from afar, LH.
The 'Docs' were vicious in support of his viciousness.
I googled my screen name, and there is another Lars39, but I think she's German(?).
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Ladyhawk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 07:33 PM
Response to Reply #50
59. Yeah, that was bewildering and painful. I still don't understand...
...why everyone sided with the perpetrator. Well, most of them did, anyway.

I learned a lot about human nature--mine included--that I would rather not have known, but it will protect me in the future.

Before in situations like this, I would have just left and cried about it. This time I tried a bit of revenge. Although it felt good at the time, it didn't feel good AT ALL afterward. I've decided that revenge is counter-productive...certainly not for me.

So, I've been trying to find the middle path, one where I can allow myself to identify dangerous or hurtful people, avoid them, but not hate them. Boy, that's tough! I think I'm erring on the side of caution and need to learn to let more people in...that will take awhile.

I've also decided it's OK to be angry. Anger is a sign something is wrong. If I'm angry, it's up to me to decide how to channel the anger into a change that will lead me to a place where I'm no longer angry.

Geez, don't you wish our lives were longer? I could live for thousands of years and never learn all I need to know. :) Human nature was never my best subject. :D

I doubt anyone would confuse you with the Lars39 in Germany, but isn't it odd there is a Lars39 in Germany? :D "Lars39" seems pretty unique to me. The other Ladyhawk not only raised parrots, but we both wrote articles that are published on the Internet(s) concerning the subject. Good luck figuring out who is who. :D

Hmmm, I don't want to turn this into a dissertation, so I guess I'll leave it at this: half a dissertation. ;)
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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 03:31 PM
Response to Original message
48. Fascinating
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Karenina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 03:35 PM
Response to Original message
49. Where's the DJ???
LIVING COLOUR, from the VIVID album 1988 CBS (Black Rock 51 W 52 ;-))
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gulfcoastliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 03:56 PM
Response to Original message
52. Amazing how the acolytes defend wholesale slander of their fellow members!
Nice analysis.
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 04:27 PM
Response to Original message
53. Honesty is always the best policy
I "assume" that some people here will try their best to disrupt. I choose to pay not attention to them :)

Anyone googling my name will find stuff from DU..and a "dating entry" not me :) and a bunch of stuff that was attribuited to me, but not mine. A poster who worked so hard digging through the election scams made the unfortunate choice of a name similar to mine, and is quoted gazillions of times as me. :( My email as flooded afterwards, and I forwarded them to him/her...It does "muddy up" the searches I do on myself from time to time, out of curiosity :)
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Runcible Spoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 04:43 PM
Response to Original message
54. no offense but....
Edited on Sun Feb-27-05 04:44 PM by FarceOfNature
I find it a bit creepy that someone would put that much time and effort into researching the background and identity of an online poster, even if this person was a "friend"...if anyone remembers Jiacinto (Carlos), he did the same thing to me years ago when I posted here under a different username...he creeped me out so much, found out where I went to school, where I lived, where my parents lived, everything except my cell phone #! I changed my username here because of that experience and had those posts pulled...I guess it was a good learning experience, I have since tried to get some of my personal info off the web, but my grad department puts up a lot of contact info on their website. I guess now I think it's futile to try and hide your identity online; the info will be there in one form or another and people will find it if they have the time and motivation to dig it up. I just don't see why someone would do this to ferret out lies. I mean, what is it worth? Yes you meet people who end up being real friends but to be frank we all are putting up a constructed identity whether or not we realize post things in such a way that you want someone to perceive you as "Democrat", "progressive", "witty", "activist", "cat lover",etc...I dunno methinks it is much ado about little...flame away......
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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 05:27 PM
Response to Reply #54
55. No flames at all.
The very reason I went after someone is they went after a friend. (And yes, I'd met this friend in real life on more than one occasion.) They wanted to play character assassin with baseless drivel, I returned same with the truth they were hiding and did it with their very own posts.

The reason I posted about it is to do exactly what we're doing now, opening a discussion about it to hopefully inform and enlighten others who "haven't been there" as to just how easy it is for someone to find out info about you, as well as the kind of very odd people who inhabit our little online worlds.

People think nothing of posting a message on a Yahoo group message board or a Usenet newsgroup or countless thousands of other places on the web, and freely discuss all kinds of topics, not knowing that "spiders" crawl the web for not only Yahoo indexes, but for DejaNews, Google, and countless hundred other "search engines". Sure, any good webmaster knows there's a "spider control file" you can write and include in a root web directory to allegedly "limit" the spider's searches to "this and this and that", but it operates entirely on the honor system, and a lot of search engines don't honor it.

The only "safe" posting you can make is on a site where you have to log in to even view postings, and there's always potential for compromise there as well.

I read an article once on how employers were doing DejaNews searches of usenet political groups to see the political leanings of potential employees. It's a rather slimy idea to me, but it's all out there, free for the taking and I'm sure there's more than one person in some corporate HR department who uses it and thinks it's a valuable tool to ferret out employees who think in ways that the CEO would appreciate.

C/Net did an article a few years back about "How much does the world know about you?" and by example, allowed you to enter a minimal amount of information - name, address, phone number, etc. - and allowed you to vary how much of that information was used in a search. It then funneled that info you selected into a few selected search engines and showed you what it found. It really shocked the people who tried it, and I guess word got around that this was an easy way to garner info for someone else's name as well, as it soon vanished off their web site.

But the majority of people whose lives haven't been affected by online scammers or general nutcases like some of us have encountered don't realize how easy it is to leave yourself open to such searches. They think if they have Norton AV running and scan with Ad Aware once a week they are somehow "safe". No one's yet invented a piece of software that'll ring a bell and advise them to the effect of: "I wouldn't post that because it could be used against you" or "Your boss might be able to find this."

And sure, we all post because we want to be perceive us as <insert favorite category here>. However, I firmly believe the online perception should match real life reality. To be anything else is a lie, as much to yourself as to everyone else.
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Runcible Spoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 05:54 PM
Response to Reply #55
57. thanks for the thoughtful reply.
I certainly think it's something we need to have a dialogue about. One of two things will certainly happen in the future. We may hopefully still have free "internets" :) but this freedom must come with a certain modicum of responsibility for what information we choose to share, as well as awareness of who can access this information; we need to have basic ways of dealing with identity theft and related issues. The second possibility is that this misadministration will curb our rights and shut down web access or severely restrict it, which will cause us all to go underground...either way we need to be aware of how information is accesses and used, and for your part you have been extremely informative...thanks again
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Unforgiven Donating Member (613 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 05:29 PM
Response to Original message
56. Great Post/Kick
and thanks. It appears there is a pretty fair amount of mental illness about in a lot of different places, even here at D/U.
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burythehatchet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-27-05 09:40 PM
Response to Original message
60. You did a nice job wrapping a lot of loose thoughts together
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HamstersFromHell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 03:36 AM
Response to Reply #60
61. You're welcome.
There's a LOT more to be said about this subject, far more than I could ever post.

I just want those who are relatively unaware to realize that it's not something that happens once in a blue moon. Sure, we see it here on occasion, but for everyone of those incidents when somone is being a bit less than honest, how many more are going on totally (at least to this point) undetected?

Hundreds of thousand of people make millions of posts on boards all over the net each day, and who reads what we never know.

As my dad used to say: "Don't do (and I add say) anything that you would be ashamed to tell the whole world." In a lot of cases, by posting you ARE telling the world.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 07:12 AM
Response to Reply #61
62. Funny coda
Great, post, btw. I had to figure out a way to keep a group from the predations of a really irresponsible person. It was an eye opener.

But, after reading this thread, I googled my screen name. No surprises there, just me. Google my name. Apparently I'm me, but also a BioTech prof at Columbia, the presidenta di defensa civile (Italy?) and, lol, a woman who raises parrots who is very active in PETA! I think I found the remains of two or three dockets. Yikes. lol
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Neecy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 10:08 AM
Response to Original message
64. great post
I've been online for almost as long as you, and I've seen the changes that you've described (and many similar bizarre characters along the way).

Reminds me how the Well required all users to use their real first and last names as usernames (derived from their credit card payments) as they reasoned that if you posted with your real name, you'd be less apt to flame and be confrontational, plus you'd also be less likely to adopt a fake persona. I'd be reluctant to belong to such a community today - some people are seriously disturbed and could easily stalk you with this information - but the original thought behind it was sound.

I've learned, often the hard way, to take everyone with a grain of salt unless I've met them in person, and not to get too riled up when a fakir is discovered. It happens all the time, and not allowing yourself to get personally invested in it is probably the most healthy approach.
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