Honor Amongst People Who Make Up Crap for a Living

Photo of keyboard and pen Recently, I found myself in a situation that I (a) never thought I’d find myself in, and (b) couldn’t quite believe was happening because stuff like this only happens in books. In short, without all the gory details, I learned that I someone I had a close association with does not really exist; the person behind the screen name is not the gender s/he presented to the online world, and our years-long “friendship” was just an elaborate game.

Ouch.

I’m not going to spend any time here rehashing events, pointing fingers, or “outing” this person to the internet world, because that’s (a) not the purpose of this blog post, and (b) not my style. Instead, what I want to discuss today is honor in your online interactions. And I want to assure you that I am exactly who I’ve claimed to be all along: a writer,wife, mother, grandmother, cat herder, and state employee (obligatory disclaimer: this blog post was not written during work hours or using state equipment).

Do you owe your online associates the truth about yourself? Well, my personal opinion is that no one owes anyone anything, period. What we give to others in terms of truth and respect should be freely given because we want to, because we truly want to build relationships, but not because we’re obligated. What you’re damaging when you present a false façade is your own credibility. That’s not to say that we, as writers or artists, shouldn’t use pen names or interact with people as the characters of our novels (which I still find more than a little weird, but to each his own) – but you should be honest about it from the start. Otherwise it’s just deception and people don’t like to be deceived.

In this age of accessibility, the personality behind whatever name you use when interacting as yourself should always be yours. Your business associations and personal relationships happen because others find something mutually beneficial or something otherwise appealing in how you present yourself. Your interactions with your fans happen because they want to connect with the real you, and if you give them a cheap imitation, they aren’t going to be pleased or loyal.

Rest assured, when you talk with me, you’re getting the real deal (you’ll know by the swearing and the sarcasm). And I sincerely hope that you’ll honor me by giving me the real you.

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3 thoughts on “Honor Amongst People Who Make Up Crap for a Living

  1. Lauralynn Elliott says:

    The gender was even different? Wow. That’s just weird. That had to be heartbreaking. I’m a little curious about how you found out. Did they tell you or was it another way? I don’t mean I expect you to tell me exactly how you found out…I’m just wondering if they just finally came clean.

    I’ll admit that I use a pen name. I’ve never kept that a secret. But the personality that I show all my online friends is completely genuine. My name is the only thing that’s not the real me. I’ve always said I’ve been married to my husband for many years. I have two grown sons. It’s all true. The funny thing is, the false name isn’t to hide anything from my online friends. It’s to hide what I WRITE from people I know in real life. And that’s another story. LOL

    • Sharon says:

      Nothing was true except the state in which this person resides. The personal details, anecdotal stories, the personality – all of it was a lie. The information was there, out in the open, all along, but I just never saw it, never put it together, until I was fed another version of the “truth” about this person from the horse’s mouth. But it was just another lie. So when I saw another friend backing away, I started researching. I’ve had nothing in response but snarky remarks, back-pedaling, and poor excuses for bad behavior.

      I used my pen name too, for the first three years that I was establishing myself. But those I chose to have personal relationships with knew the real details about me. I just see absolutely no honor in how this person manipulated and used people. I don’t have friends or associates who have no sense of honor.

  2. Jinxie_G says:

    I may use the Jinxie name online, but those close to me know my real name, as you have for the past 5 1/2 years you’ve known me. =) I could NOT do what this person did. I can’t even fathom the idea of it. I think it’s cowardice and it’s appalling, and this person can only damage their writing career by doing something so incredibly stupid.

    Great post, Sharon!

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