Who Do You Think You’re Talking To?

It just occurred to me that my most recent posts concerning January’s two-faced-ed-ness (is that a word… it is for now) could be interpreted in a different way from how I perceived them when I wrote them.

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“I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” ― Lewis Carroll

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That’s a given really for anything we say. What we think we’re saying isn’t necessarily what others hear.

My mind has been trained to suss out different interpretations, not just of what I say but what others are saying too, but my mind doesn’t always do what it’s trained to do. Sometimes it presses an off switch and that’s that. I just focus on my own view and live and let live or interpret, which can be a fun and insightful way to experience life.

We all have those kind of switches.

That switch of mine is a bit temperamental (or just mental), and sometimes malfunctions. Like me. I’m a messy muddle-headed being, who is often away with the fairies of thought. I get distracted very easily, think I’ve explained something when I haven’t, or tried to explain something and ended up confusing the issue. Stuff like that. I can be razor sharp… or a big fluffy cloud of nothingness.

Maybe others think that my ‘two-faced’ posts mean I’m hinting that I’m being two-faced online and not in a good way. I’m not. I know that… but how do you know that?

After all I am using an alias… but not to deceive. I know that… but, again, how do you know that?

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catfish

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And how do I know that about the others whom I meet online? Whose blogs, websites, Twitter or otherwise I follow, and perhaps invest myself in?

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“Artists use lies to tell the truth. Yes, I created a lie. But because you believed it, you found something true about yourself.” ― Alan Moore

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I’ve been fairly lucky with my online interactions since I first started participating rather than shyly lurking. I started on Twitter… as I said, I’ve been lucky and I appreciate that a lot.

I appreciate it more since I’ve been watching Catfish – the TV series. I saw Catfish – the film a couple of years ago – a must see if you spend time online and making social connections that way.

The term – Catfish – comes from something the husband of the woman in the film who ‘deceived’ the creator of the film and series – Nev Schulman – said about what his wife had done.

She had used pictures of a model/musician which she had found online to create a ‘fake’ profile. It started out as a fantasy for her, a way to escape her offline reality using the creative freedom of the online world . She hadn’t meant for it to become what it eventually became, things just snowballed – something which is a regular feature of the TV series spin-off.

Real people getting carried away by a creation… and then not knowing how to get out of the web they’ve created and which has taken on a life of its own and trapped them inside of its sticky tendrils.

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“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

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Some of the stories are very poignant and it is hard not to empathise and understand, even with those who did it to intentionally deceive and cause pain to others. Their intentions were inspired by their own misery and sometimes… we’ve all been there and done a bit of that, maybe not gone as far as they went, but you never know… why do we stop when we stop, what stays our hand? Is it us or circumstances or…?

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“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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Most of the stories have a happy ending of sorts, very few of the ‘deceivers’ meant for their initial ‘deception’ to become what it did. And at the end of the day, they really were a real person communicating and connecting with someone else, they just don’t always look like the profile pics they’ve used. But they are who they always were.

We are who we are even when we’re consciously trying not to be ourselves. The truth will out… one way or another.

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“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” ― A.A. Milne

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I have to confess that I’ve ‘Google Image search’ ‘d a few profile pics, particularly when a profile seemed a bit ‘too good to be true’. Mostly with Twitter. Mostly out of curiosity or simply admiration for an image. A rather popular Twitter account who inspires many uses a stunning photograph by a Russian photographer – I just loved the photo and wanted to know more about it, see a better resolution of it.

I haven’t considered what I’d do if I found out that someone was using the pics I’ve shared of myself as the profile pics of some ‘fake’ account. Someone might… it could happen to anyone of us. Once we share ourselves online… in some ways we’re fair game for someone else to use our images, face, name, etc, for whatever reason or purpose. We don’t expect people to do that, why would they? But they might… and since there are billions of people online, would you ever find out?

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“How it is we have so much information, but know so little?” ― Noam Chomsky

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There was one story which is probably my favourite thus far, it’s from season 3 of the TV series. A young girl made friends with a young guy on My Space when they were teens. They shared a profound connection and then one day he was gone, all traces of him online were deleted. Years later he reconnected with her on Facebook. She felt the same about him, yet something worried her – was it really him? And who was he really? All her attempts to speak to him face-to-face were thwarted.

So she contacted Nev, Max and the Catfish team to help her meet her online friend offline.

Judging from all the info she had and which they researched, they began to suspect that he was ‘fake’. His profile pics and his name were used by many accounts on Facebook. He had a Youtube… which meant his claims that he didn’t have a webcam to video-chat were probably bogus. He also claimed that he didn’t have a phone…. but who doesn’t have a phone these days!?!

SPOILER – He actually turned out to be exactly who he claimed to be. He had had a webcam, but it had been sold to pay the rent. And he really did not have a phone. The reason he had disappeared years before was because his parents had banned him from his online activities as they were worried about who he was meeting online and whether these people he was connecting with were real.

Great story!

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“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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It’s good to be aware of the cautionary tales which exist, but it’s also important to realise that sometimes risks are worth taking because people are who they say they are… pretty much.

Pretty much as in… how we perceive ourselves, isn’t always how others perceive us.

I am who I am… but who do you think I am?