Monday, August 25, 2008're breakin' my heart

Those words from a Linda Ronstadt cover of an old Knickerbockers song keep running through my head.

Saturday morning, having read the blog post of a young man we've come to know over the past few months, something began gnawing at me. The post seemed a bit odd. There were things about it that seemed odd...but I went on to other things and kind of forgot about it.

We hosted a party Saturday afternoon, so there was plenty of preparation to do for that, which kept my mind off the blog post. Jeff took the train out from the city to help us get things ready. (What are best friends for? Thanks for all the wonderful help, Jeff!) Friday night, we cut up a large platter of veggies and I made some dip from scratch to go with them. Jess would be grilling burgers and dogs for our 10 or so guests. Friday night, Jeff and I had also worked on the base for our specialty drink for the party, pink lemonade martinis, as well as freezing 6 quarts of homemade vanilla bean ice cream. We already had some Cherry Pie ice cream in the freezer that I had made the week before, so we were set with that, and I had about a quart of chocolate chip cookie dough that I had made the week before that would be used to bake cookies during the party. And Saturday morning, I made a tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella salad in a balsamic vinaigrette with tomatoes and basil that I had grown.

Some of the guests brought dishes as well, such as a cucumber salad, a lentil salad, a fresh fruit salad, and two kinds of cornbread, so we were set for food and then some. We had a really great time and the food was delicious. Jess did his usual fabulous job as the grillmaster. The cookies and ice cream were terrific. And everybody loved the drinks.

In the evening, when everyone had left, Jess, Jeff and I were relaxing and Jess mentioned that another friend of ours had registered a suspicion with him about the aforementioned young man's blog. Jess made a Google search related to the most recent post and found it to be lifted directly from another person's blog who lived in the UK. And so it began.

Over the next 30-40 minutes, we began Googling phrases from posts in the blog. I went back through some of the posts that I had remembered as having particular oddities or those that seemed to be not of the usual writing style of the young man in question. In almost every case, the posts that I had remembered as being odd were indeed showing up under other peoples' blogs with much earlier dates of posting.

Now some of his blog posts may indeed be really his work, but it is clear that a number of others aren't his, and it seems quite suspicious that within hours of Jess' posting about his findings that the blogger in question suddenly deleted his entire blog. At the least, he's been dishonest in posting material as his own that isn't his, and at most, he may not even exist...except in someone's mind. It's troubling to lose a friend this way. Even if he does exist, he has lost our trust, and that is the saddest thing of all to me. We thought that we were developing a nice friendship with a very bright and very mature young man who, sadly, turned out to be deceptive.

Interesting, too, since he had recently blogged about the fact that he was becoming much more discerning in his choice of friends because he was recognizing that there were those friends who would only hold him back. If only he had listened to his own advice. But there's reason to suspect that he didn't write those thoughts himself, instead stealing them from someone else's blog. It's sad.

So now we've been burned twice in as many months by persons pretending to be people they are not. There hasn't been any loss to us as the result of these acquaintances other than a loss of trust in people we meet via the blogosphere, but that's a very important loss. We have met a number of people through this wonderful medium, many of whom we have had the privilege of meeting in person; some we have visited with by phone and e-mail, but not in person yet as distance and schedules haven't permitted. Smaller still is the circle of friends whom we know only by e-mail and blog posts, and it's those relationships that this experience will touch the most, because it's those "unconfirmed" relationships that will now be most subject to suspicion...and it's not a good feeling.

As much as it's been an eye-opening experience, for me it's been a mind-closing one. I am the shyer of the two of us; Jess has always made friends more rapidly and in greater number than I, and many of our friendships made through blogging have been a result of Jess' efforts more than mine. This latest brush with the darker side of Internet interaction is causing me to question the wisdom of making friends through what I once considered the almost-ideal way to meet people. I've always thought that it's a great way to meet people with similar views since you learn about the person's likes, dislikes, triumphs and tragedies through a non-threatening medium that generally encourages the user to just put it all out there...and many of us do...because it's fun to find others who think like we do.

It also permits you to get a much more intimate understanding of the person in question in a shorter time than conventional means, and this is great because we're all pressed for time these days, and it's always good to have friends. Friendships don't come easily, but they seem to develop more rapidly through this interaction. So it sucks when something like this happens and ruins the karma.

It's all just a little more than unsettling.

Fortunately, there are friends who are very understanding, and one of them called us last night, having read Jess' blog post about the situation. He's a friend whom we met through blogging, and he's a rare find. He called to reassure us that he's not real (ha!) and then we proceeded to talk for an hour and a half on just about everything. We share so much in common with him that it's uncanny. Our friendship is illustrative of the good things that come out of blogging. You're awesome, Pete.

You may have noticed I put a playlist on the page here; it's probably not a good thing for those of you who read my blog at work (such as the aforementioned) so I imagine I will dispense of it rather quickly. I just thought it would be fun to throw a few songs out there that describe my mood right now, including the Knickerbockers song I referenced at the beginning of this post.


At 9:54 AM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Dantallion said...

Sounds to me like, despite the nonsense, you've come across some pretty normal, decent folks out here in Blogdom.

(Of course, I'm using the broadest possible definition of 'normal' and 'decent'.)

Both you and Jess are such remarkably genuine, warm and generous people, I hope the people you continue to encounter out here are both real, and appreciative of everything you bring to the table!

At 10:45 AM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Michelle Ann said...

That's awful. It's really sad that people are willing to deceive in order to connect with others. But, you can't really connect if you aren't representing who you really are.

At times, my blog can be a little TOO real for someone that wants to casual read and catch up, but isn't that the whole point of this medium?

You can put yourself out there, warts and all, and if people like what they read, they will come back and if they don't...well that's fine too.

I really enjoy the people I have met on the blogs and would be "perklempt" if I couldn't catch up and read all the goings on...

Well, I hope this doesn't spoil the medium for you. I really enjoy reading about you, Jess and the have a wonderful life, kind of like mine! :)

At 10:06 PM, August 26, 2008, Blogger Marc said...

Dan: yup, you're one of them. Thank you for the kind words!

Michelle: I don't think it will spoil it for me, it just taints it. Makes me a little gunshy. But I really do enjoy making friends this way, and I've made a number of them, yourself included!

(By the way, to everyone else reading this, Michelle and I met through pinknest's blog, where she's a regular commenter like me.) Thanks to Anita for the introduction!


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