I understand that people online exaggerate, bluff, brag, and outright lie about the minutiae of their lives. Typically, that doesn’t bother me. I don’t care if you’re a 62 year old housewife from the Midwest who lives on the Internet as a 25 year old blonde with a huge rack. I don’t care if you’re a basement dweller who hasn’t seen much daylight for the last ten years but put yourself out there as a hard core biker with a farkled-out Harley Road Glide.
I don’t care because there’s not a lot of chance that someone will get hurt by whatever fantasy you’re living online. Suit yourself. If you’re not using your online persona for monetary gain, or to inflict pain on someone else, no big deal; if you do it to protect yourself, go for it.
But if you play the cancer card, or any serious illness card, if you put out there that you’re battling a horrific disease when the truth is that there’s not a damn thing wrong with you…I care about that. And I judge you HARD for it.
People do get hurt by that. You’re not only toying with peoples’ emotions and deep fears, you’re detracting from those who do have those illnesses. And when you’re found out, you also call into question the people whose lives are legitimately consumed by the simple act of trying to stay alive. You lie, you get caught, and people start looking hard at others who are fighting the fight you supposedly were. After all, if one person can try to get away with it, why wouldn’t someone else?
Here’s the thing: that lie isn’t sustainable. Face it, if you lie about having breast cancer, you’re going to trip up on the details and those who know a whole lot more about it than you do are going to figure it out. If you pile on top of that some fairly unlikely scenarios—oh, I had breast cancer for a few weeks last year but I’m all better now because I swallowed the red pill and had 3.2 x-rays while I hopped up and down on one foot—you’re adding flash to bring out the details of the picture you’re trying to get everyone to accept.
In the last year I’ve come to be made aware of three different people who are most likely lying about their diseases. Things just don’t add up. The devil is in the details, and these devils lack the highlights and lowlights that make their stories plausible. I’m not the only one sitting here puzzling it out; we’re all doing the same math and getting different answers.
Why does it matter?
It matters because we know others who truly are battling illness and disease, and our hearts break for what they’re going through.
It matters because things like this make people care, make people cry, make people hit their knees and beg the high power of their belief system to grant mercy to someone who’s just making up things as they go along.
It matters because it makes people feel impotent, being unable to do something to just fix it, to wish away the disease and everything it brings; it spurs people into getting online and checking every day, two or three or a dozen times, just for good news about the person they care about.
It matters because it’s mean.
Pretending to be John Doe, artist extraordinaire, doesn’t matter; that’s your own fantasy world and as long as you’re not asking people for money or other things, it hurts no one. Pretending to be Jane Doe, cancer victim, is so many kinds of wrong I can’t even begin to count them all.
If you are doing this, or have done this, you suck.
People know, and you suck.