30 January 2016

When it comes to people online, I can be fairly easy going. If I find, after knowing you for a while, that you made up a background story for yourself just to make online life more fun—and you don’t do it to for emotional or financial manipulation—I can shrug it off. I’ve known a few people over the years who have changed the details of their lives to make themselves more comfortable in chat rooms and interest forums, but they didn’t do it for any gain other than to have someone else to talk to. The person that stands out the most in my head is someone I met on Prodigy a billion years ago; “he” was actually a woman, but inverted the details of her life because she frankly did not want to deal with the way some men online behave toward women. She never asked for anything, never made up any horrific stories garnered to reap sympathy, never used personal tragedy for money.

She simply wanted to play online without being hassled. I get that. It didn’t bother me when I found out, because I understood it.

What I have a more difficult time shrugging off are the people who exist online to get something: attention, money, or both. Half the time I can’t figure out what it is they really want, but what they’re doing is several levels of wrong, and it’s hard to shrug off.

There’s a cat blogger who has created quite the life for herself online, even going to the extreme of sucking up pictures from random of other peoples’ kids and someone else’s husband, and presenting them to the world as her own. I’m guessing about 80% of the people involved in the Cat Blogosphere know that most of what she posts is complete bullshit (other than a couple of cats, we’re not even sure she’s had most of the cats she’s claimed to have) and I don’t think anyone would care…except that she’s taken money from us under the guise of some hard times (that some shrewd CBers have proven to be false) and she’s claimed to have had breast cancer (which I seriously doubt, given the details she provided.) If she’d just created this fantasy life, I would have uttered =meh= out loud, and moved on. But she didn’t: she took money and she played the cancer card.


Poke around online long enough, and you’ll find a plethora of similar stories, people who have this horrible disease and get others to host fundraisers so they can meet their rent, buy food, put clothes on their kids’ backs…and then they’re outed as being liars.

It’s a crime, you know. Some have been prosecuted, most have not.

The whole crapfest came to mind again today when presented with evidence that a 3 Day rock star—someone who has, through cultivation of a very large team of walkers and crew members—raised over $300,000 for the 3 Day. She’s done an incredible amount of good work by claiming to have had breast cancer multiple times and using that platform as the basis for her fundraising.

But…she apparently never had cancer at all.

And, you know, I could almost shrug that off. This is a cause that becomes so personal to a lot of people that it becomes a mission. There are, within the 3 Day community, a few people that I honestly feel have a calling to do this. They walk multiple events each year (some walk all of them, raising a minimum of $2300 for each walk) and they do it because they NEED to be a part of the process that eventually finds a cure.

I thought she was one of them.

But…but…but…other people, online and in real life, have held fundraisers for her, and she took the money. All the bits and pieces of fine details are not yet clear, but the big picture is this: she manipulated literally thousands of people into honestly giving a damn about what she was supposedly going through, she had people in emotional turmoil and agony over it, crying real tears, and more than once. She was fine with other people hurting for her, and she was fine with their efforts to raise money on her behalf, and fine with taking it.

And that’s where I draw the line.

Play the cancer card, take the money, and you’re quite the wretched person in my book.

I don’t know how she started down that path; maybe in the beginning it really seemed like a good way to fundraise for a decent cause. Maybe she never intended for it to go that far. Maybe all she ever really wanted was to cure a disease, and this was the only way she could think of. Maybe. Lots of maybes.

I’m annoyed by it all; I have no personal stake in her charade other than being a part of the same community, and being a face in the crowd that cheered her on as she created this amazing team of people and as she became a motivational speaker for the cause. I’m not broken by it, but I know others who are clearly gutted because they developed a real and personal connection to her.

There are a whole lot of totally gobsmacked people in the 3 Day community right now. They want answers, and those may never come. I have no idea what will become of the team she created, but I hope they stick together, change their name, and soldier on. I hope that their spirit isn’t broken.

For everyone else who takes up a cause—any cause—people who do this make it that much harder. Fundraising is already difficult, and when news like this surfaces it can make wallets snap shut with a loud pop, because potential donors can’t trust the information being given to them.

If you do this, if you lie about being sick for the sake of attention and money, you not only put yourself at risk for the repercussions, you make life that much more difficult for those caught up in your web and the people around them. You destroy trust; it’s the bridge that you not only burn behind you, but incinerate everything within a 5 mile radius.

Not everyone is outed (the cat blogger in question has never been publicly outed, but has been privately…if she was unaware, she’s probably figuring it out right about…now) and that’s where several levels of wrong exist: when people come to understand that there are more liars out there than they realize, their support ends. In the case of the 3 Day, this will probably cause a few participants to walk away.

I can’t blame them. It’s hard to walk 60 miles in 3 days when your soul is bleeding.

I will walk this year; the Spouse Thingy will walk this year. And I promise you this: I will not engage in emotional manipulation to raise the money for that. I may beg, I may offer to do weird and humiliating things, I will have prizes, but I will not lie about something so important just to call attention to myself and reap whatever benefits that might bring.

If you got caught up in any of it, I am truly sorry. But know this: whatever you donated, whatever tears you shed, however deeply you cared and how hard you worked to help her, it came from a very good place, and you deserve the karma that brings.

And people do actually do things like this: karma’s gonna bite you in the ass.

Karma always wins.


Unknown said...

I'm so sorry to read this Thump. I'd like to know how you found out about the 3-day person (I'm pretty sure I know who the cat blogger is)
I have little patience for liars ... no matter what their reason!

Carolina Cats said...

What a shame. I can't understand people like that. Like you, I hope that her teammates remember their own motivation and continue to do the good work because it is needed so badly.

Thank you and all the others for the work you've done and continue to do.


Just Ducky said...

Sad that people invent stuff to get money, which takes it from the people who could really use it.

Lucy Furr said...

I can't do the walks due to physical problems, but I do donate what I can. I am on a fixed income. I trust in you Ms. Karen as I have seen the extremes you go to in order to raise awareness and money for a righteous cause. I salute you for your hard work and dedication.

Mark's Mews (Ayla, Marley, and Laz) said...

I have a few suspicions of bloggers who ask for help myself. I think I even got scammed once and sent soney to someone faking it. But that pretty rare for me. My BS detector is usually very good.

No one is perfect about that, though.

Fool me once and I'll be very surprised. And I'll learn.