Sunday, September 15, 2013

What a tangled web we weave

When first we practice to deceive...

So they say, and based on one experience I had on line it seems to be true.

Way back in the olden days, before twitter, message boards were very popular. I think some still are.
I was a member of a popular board for parents. Both mums and dads chatted about kids, life, jobs, all sorts of things. Some of us flirted a bit, nothing serious, we were mostly all in relationships. Some of us made friends and exchanged Christmas cards, talked on the phone, chatted via email that sort of thing. And about 20 of us became really close. All women and one dad.

When a few of us were banned from the message board site (don't ask, that's a WHOLE other story) we started our own board.

The dad on the board was in his 30s. He had a young wife and a young daughter when he first joined. Later his wife got pregnant again and they had another girl. He was really nice, worked in the city doing shares or something, was good at financial advice. Often discussed schooling, wanted advice on his daughters, that sort of thing. His wife wasn't keen on him sharing things online, so he used a pseudonym ("Bis") , for himself and "fake" names for all his family, much like I do now.

He was witty and clever, very chatty, often flirty, but never stepped over the line. He was nice, and fun.

We were all friends on the new board, still talking about family life etc for over a year
Then one of the ladies on the board broke up with her OH.

Soon after that Bis needed to travel on business and suggested he meet her as he would be in her state. She agreed, they met and had lunch.

But she was worried, he appeared a lot younger than he had claimed, and he was a lot more flirty than he was online. But the meal passed without major incident and they said goodbye.

When he returned home after his trip he stumbled on a family crisis. His wife was having an affair and was planning to leave. He was devastated. She would be taking the children and he didn't know what to do. He hoped maybe he could stay with one of us, specifically the lady he'd met.....

But this tangled web was so tangled by now that even he realised, that despite keeping copious notes about what he'd said, ages of his girls, etc etc he couldn't continue. He liked the lady he'd met and wanted to ask her out, but the "affair" his wife had wasn't the lie...

He told us he needed to come clean.

It was ALL a lie. He was not 30. He was not married. There were no children. He didn't work in the city. There was no business trip. He didn't even have a girlfriend.

He had joined the message boards when his then girlfriend had aborted his baby. He had wanted to pretend he was going to be a dad, he had been so upset he had invented his perfect family, and the lie had grown and grown.

He had grown to like people online. But he couldn't stop the lie. It was too big, it had a life of it's own. He had tried to 'remove' his family only when he wanted to ask the woman out...

Everyone on the message board was shocked. They immediately banned him. The woman he met was freaked out and wouldn't speak to him ever again.

I kept on touch for a while as did my friend Mimi (she's real, I've been to california and net her) but it was odd, not knowing what, if anything was real.

Sometimes I think of him and wonder what he's doing now. I hope he's ok. The story was strange and sad. But it makes me behave differently online now.

There is an old New Yorker cartoon where two dogs are using a PC, one is saying to the other "on the internet, no one knows you are a dog" it's true. None of us know who the others are.

Take care out there.

Do you have experience of online lies? or online truths? Link up below. Thanks  


  1. I was involved in a similar situation to this when I was 15/16 - a person I was very close friends with online 'died' and then hadn't died and then died again and now can't be found anywhere. Pretty convinced 'he' must have been a figment of someone's imagination but I was far too emotionally involved in it all and now don't believe anyone is real until proven otherwise ;)

  2. Oh gosh, this does bring some painful memories from earlier this year when I found I was being scammed by a man masquerading as a dying cancer sufferer. I fell for every little word he tweeted. Why? Because I don't lie on Twitter, pretend to be somebody that I am not. Guess, I just assumed that everyone else did too. What a gullible numpty!

    Thing that hurts me more that the money I sent was the Christmas gift parcel I made up with my kids for his whole family. I am cross that I involved my kids in his deception.

    Never again.

    1. I remember :-( so sad because it turns nice helpful people into cynics that no longer want to help.

  3. I've been watching Catfish and it is sooooooo sad and scary! I know you and your fab fashion sense are real though lol :)

    1. I've never seen that but just looked up a synopsis - some very mixed up people in the world and I guess the internet allows us to meet them all!

  4. In the premmie/baby loss world we get this reasonably often, and its very sad when it does happen.

    I make a decision to take everyone I meet at face value.

    I was accused of being an internet fake, which I found really quite funny, its actually quite hard to prove you are who you say you are!!!

    1. I try to do that too - oddly it's easier on twitter where many people don't have 'real' names or faces.

      But like a previous commenter said, you can get caught up and want to help. I do still help sometimes, but am very aware that money etc that I send may just be going to a fake so I tend to give and help less than if I was sure. Which makes me sad.

  5. Very interesting story, and certainly a reminder to not trust too easily.
    While it's totally wrong for someone to lie like that, I do feel sorry for them as they must feel very sad in their own lives to need to create a different one.