Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fabrications and Imposters

Last night I dreamed I was looking for someone. Twice I thought I had found them; but I soon realized they were imposters. Then the third time, I finally found the real thing...but unfortunately I woke up.

One of the imposters was Zelda from Pet Sematary....or at least something that looked like her. That was kind of creepy.

This morning, Jack and I watched iCarly. The episode was about a real life YouTube star named Lucas Cruikshank, who has found fame by portraying a character named Fred.

Sam and Carly showcase Fred's video on their iCarly webcast. They're about to show another video, and then their producer Freddie suggests otherwise. He admits he doesn't find the videos to be that funny. He isn't rude and nasty about it. He just states his opinion.

After stating his opinion, all hell breaks lose. Lucas declares his feelings have been hurt, and he's quitting his little show. Soon everyone is treating Freddie (the non Fred-fan) as a pariah. His simple statement of criticism is blown out of proportion. Reporters interview Carly, Sam, and Freddie, then edit the news report to make things look worse than they are.

In the end (SPOILER ALERT)......

Lucas admits that he was never offended, and it was all a scam. He points out that having this big drama increased both his and iCarly's web visitors.

The show made me feel uncomfortable because it brought back memories of my past internet experience. I gave an opinion, and suddenly I felt like I was the victim of a witch hunt. I don't think any outright lying happened, but there was manipulation of opinion via editing, deleting, withholding information, exaggerating, etc.

For me, the incident didn't increase visitor stats on my blog....mostly because I kept the drama off of my blog. I wonder if it increased stats for the others in the story. Maybe...probably.

So anyway, I have a lot of this dishonesty synchronocity going on. Why? I have no idea.

Today (several hours after watching iCarly) I watched some clips from a documentary on the Australian Screen website. I've been watching them in order, and the first one I came to today was from the film Forbidden Lies. It's about a Jordanian-American woman living in Australia who wrote a book about honor killings in the Middle East. She presented it as fact; said it was a tragedy that happened to her friend. But some clever Australians uncovered the truth. Author Norma Khouri is a con artist. Her story is a lie.

I did some reading with Lord Wiki regarding other literary frauds. He mentioned The Education of Little Tree. We read that in my children's Literature class in college. I was going to say how stupid for the professor to assign that, and not realize it was a fraud. BUT now I'm thinking maybe we read it, and then talked about it being a fraud. I can't remember. So there you go. Sometimes we can't tell the truth because we don't REMEMBER the truth. But we can be honest in saying we don't remember clearly. I think that helps.

There's an infamous Australia-related example; Mutant Message Down Under. This is the one in which an American woman claims she spent spiritual bonding time with Aboriginal Australians.

There are other examples.

People find fame and fortune by telling lies.

You know....you can do that ETHICALLY by calling your work fiction. Simple as that. Fiction does sell pretty well, actually. At least I think it does.

Although I wrote a novel, put it online, LABELED it as a novel, and people thought it was true. I got all these emails from people telling me they understood what I was going through. I had to explain that it was a novel...fiction. Maybe a lot of people don't know that novel means fiction. If I was putting my true life story up, I would have called it memoirs....or a blog.

Why do people create these elaborate lies?

I'd say it's for....

a) attention (definitely!)
b) money (if they're getting their work published)
c) sympathy
d) the thrill of tricking people.

What are the consequences of lying?

Well, I think the biggest one is that it creates distrust, and often towards people who don't deserve this distrust.

I'm now reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This is the one in which the media and Ministry of Magic paints Potter to be a dishonest brat who's starved for attention. Now we the readers know the truth (well the fictional truth, at least). Harry Potter is completely honest and has REALLY been in horrible dangerous situations. He's not making stuff up. But the characters in the novel aren't privy to the knowledge we're getting. Why SHOULD they believe Potter? It's hard to do so when you've witnessed so many lies before.

A year or so ago, a young teenager pulled at the heartstrings of many bloggers. She was suffering from cancer. In her blog, she wrote about her troubles and sorrows. Other bloggers reached out to her, not just in the blogging world. They reached out beyond that. They called her on the phone. They sent her gifts. They sent out much love.

Then the cancer victim admitted it was all a lie. She didn't have cancer. She made it all up.

What a slap in the face to compassion. How are these bloggers going to react, in the future, when they encounter other people claiming to have cancer?

There's a brilliant scene in Swords and Crowns and Rings where a man won't allow some homeless people to seek shelter on his property. He cruelly sends them away. They stay anyway, sleeping with the pigs. One man dies from the cold. The others get angry at the farmer.

One of the characters (I forget who) defends the man.

Ah, here we go.... I got the book, and found the passage. It's Jerry who does the defending. Although now I can't even remember who Jerry was.

Anyway, he says...But if the farmer's wife had the bad luck he told us about, tools pinched, vandalism, maybe worse, his daughter done over, or his wife terrorised-eh? Can you blame him for locking things up?

When it comes to just compassion, I feel it's usually better to play the fool than the cold-hearted bitch.
But if you go beyond sympathy....it's difficult. What if it's money....lots of money? Should we help someone, or ignore them because we believe they're a con artist?

Let's say a wealthy teen from the suburbs wants some extra cash. She doesn't want to work, so she goes around telling people that she's homeless and needs a few dollars so she can eat...or buy a train ticket...or call her parents.

I'm sure there are many stories like this.

But there probably are also stories of people who REALLY are stranded and in need of some food and money. How many of those truly in need have been ignored and turned down because liars have taught us to be distrustful?

Then there's the whole safety thing.

Now I don't know how much is real, and how much is urban legend. But I've heard of the serial killer/kidnapper horror stories. Men trick women into thinking someone is in need. They use this as a lure, and then they trap them. You know....like that scene in Silence of the Lambs. Scary!

It's really hard to be trustful in this world.

What are we to do?

I guess the best solution is to be open-minded and open-hearted...but also skeptical.

While we're on the subject of honesty....

I just want to remind people that I don't usually post things the day I write them. So although my blog is very honest about what I'm thinking, and what goes on in my life....the timing of stuff is usually dishonest.

So when I say, last night I dreamed I was looking for someone....it's a LIE. Well, it is true as I'm writing this. But when I post it, it won't be true anymore. AH....unless I end up having the same dream the night before I post this.

And by the time any of you read this, I shall probably be finished with reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

I just wanted to make sure we're straight and clear.

I'm weirdly paranoid about misleading people....well, unless I'm joking. But if I'm joking, I reveal the truth pretty quickly.