The Faces We Wear
Of all my journeys online, it has been in the Second Life and Plurk community that I have felt the most different than everyone else. I never find my opinion to be the popular one. I never seem to 100% agree with most of what is said about a situation. Sure, we all agree on certain points, but only a few people and I see exactly eye to eye. Though, to me, that’s the beauty of Plurk. A situation can happen and you can see multiple views all at once, or in my case 214 different views. Taken into account the number of my plurk “friends” that are inactive, I’d say more like 125 different views. Each view may be slightly different, but in my opinion, when a situation such as someone being accused of being someone else occurs on plurk, most people fall into one of the major categories listed below:
You have done something. You’ve either lied or upset someone in some way that makes them think you lied. Perhaps you just performed differently than they expected and you were labeled unjustly or perhaps you are actually a liar and spend your free time trying to make others miserable. No one will ever really know for sure except you, unless you confess to someone. If you do confess to someone, most likely they will not keep your secret forever. If you don’t confess and you never admit, then you could trip yourself up by getting close to someone else and providing conflicting details. Being a liar and being close to multiple people is very hard to maintain over a long period of time even online. People will begin to get suspicious the closer they get. Once their suspicions, whether true or false, arise, you really only have four options:
- Provide proof their accusations are false. Know that some accusers will never be satisfied, but it will at least help make the people who feel they were injured by your deception feel better, if the proof is valid.
- Ignore it and hope it all goes away. You’ll still have some supporters and new people may be swayed by your charm in the future. Just remember that these accusations, if not completely unproven, will eventually surface again.
- Confess. Beg forgiveness. This may or may not work. Most likely will end with the same results as #2.
- Reinvent yourself and start all over again. This will serve as confirmation that the accusations are true, but you won’t have to face them. Usually after a few months, years, the same issues may come find you on a new account if your lies continue.
The accuser(s) is the person or persons that make the accusations public and most likely are also an injured party. They sometimes provide proof or speak of having proof. The reputation of the accuser and their closeness to the accused will determine if the accusations are believed or not. Sometimes the person is outing the accused for the good of the community or sometimes for their own benefit. Though, the intent is usually fairly obvious. If the accuser has nothing to gain from the accusations, then most likely their intentions are genuine. Usually the only thing the accuser or accusers have to gain is the blackballing of the accused. If the accused being a social pariah does not in any way benefit them, then most likely the outing is sincere.
“The Injured Party(ies)”
This group, whether small or large, are the ones that feel betrayed, deceived or hurt, whether real or imagined. They believe they have been the receiver of lies. Perhaps the secrets they whispered only to you have spread far and wide in the community. The accused may have played a part in attempting to destroy their “relationship”, etc. Some of the parties in this group may have an actual claim for damages against the accused’s trollish ways, or others may claim that if a person was not truly the way they inferred they were, then they are owed damages. Either way, the people in this group will want to share their story about how they were injured and/or always suspected the accused of being a lying snake in the grass. Whether involved first hand or not, real or imagined injured parties will speak of the devastation for years to come. These stories will especially be told and retold when the next accusation occurs.
“Supporters of the Accused”
No matter what information is presented or not presented, this group will always support the accused. Perhaps “the accused has always been nice to them” or they don’t really care what’s been done or who has been hurt because all of their interactions with them have been polite and above board. Usually, they don’t know the accuser that well or the accused didn’t have a reason to deceive them, so they have not been hurt in the situation. Whatever the case may be, for sickness or in health, they have the accused’s back.
“The Unaware and Just Don’t Care”
There are those that know nothing about what is happening and do not care to know. They are all wrapped up in work, reading Reddit, sexting coworkers, recovering from the holidays, etc., and are much too “busy” to be concerned with an outing of an alt.
“The Unaware and Always Out of the Loop”
This is the group of people that never know exactly what is going on, but are always curious because they are usually bored or want to see if it concerns them. Usually you can spot them easily, because they are always saying something “not seeing the drama on their timeline” or “asking what’s going on”. They usually get informed via a private plurk, realize that the reason they didn’t know in the first place is because it didn’t apply to them and move on with their life. No harm. No foul.
Here’s the thing, we at all at one point or another in our online world stand to be in one of the groups mentioned above. No matter where we fall in this situation, I believe everyone, including the accused, deserves an opportunity to be heard and respected. Whether you decide to believe the accusers or the accused does not give you a right to bash anyone that choses to believe differently.
I respect someone’s right to hide behind a persona, but I also respect someone’s right to demand honesty in their dealings with people online. You can be whoever you want to be on my plurk line. I don’t expect honesty in your public plurks, though I would like to believe that it exists.
It’s a person’s right to say when they draw the line with their expectations of honesty with someone. If you talk privately with someone about real life issues and your relationship is based on the private conversations that you share, then of course, if they find out or suspect that the entire basis of your friendship could possibly be a lie, they have a right to be hurt.
Sometimes what is so often referred to as drama online is actually just life, good or bad. No matter what category you fall into in this situation or one that may happen in the future, perhaps knowing we are all one step away from being an injured party, an accused or an apathetic bystander may help us treat the others involved with sympathy and respect.