Wednesday, June 2, 2010

You don't know me

Most of you who are reading this don't know me at all in real life.  Some of you who are my facebook friends have seen photos of me, my children, my holidays and so have a feeling that you know me somewhat.  But, there is so much about me that is not really only 'known' based on what I say.  I say I am single - but how do you know?  Have you seen this acknowledged by people that you know for sure know me well, live in my city, know my family?  I say I am an accountant?  But how do you know?  From photos that I have posted of my office?  That does not say that I am an just says that I work in an office.  Or perhaps just that I visit an office sometimes.

The fact is, people just don't know who they are dealing with online.  We can chat, we can talk on the phone.  Even meet.  But, unless we know someone in their 'regular' life, we can be sure of nothing.  I know this for a fact.  I have seen people with apparently full profiles, including photos of their house inside and out (large, three story with extensive grounds), of dogs, of the orchard they owned, with a job as an investment banker, and with extensive travel behind them.  Now, I have a very good memory.  And, perhaps due to my profession, am very awake to inconsistencies.  I saw a few, I probed.  Turns out none of this was true - the guy in question had not travelled as he said...did not live in the 3 story house but rather in a 1BK...and worked in a caryard.  None of these bad points in themselves...but they became so due to his deception.  And they impacted very negatively on some others.  One girl, that went from the US to India to meet him, but was shocked to find the truth that emerged under her Uncle's questioning.  Another,that had met him when visiting family from Canada, not only believed that she would be marrying him, but sent money to his 'sister' to buy him a gift after his terrible motorcycle accident (all lies, the email account of the sister was actually another identity of his).  So, it shows just how far and for how long people can be deceived.

I am not saying that I am not who I say I am.  But, I am asking you to consider just how much you know me. Photos of children and of me or, perhaps, of an unsuspecting friend or stranger, can easily be obtained from Picasa, flickr, photobucket or the huge number of websites that provide stock images.  A character can be feigned.  I tell people that I travel, that I work hard.  Perhaps I am on welfare and actually bitterly jealous of those who do.  Perhaps I see some of you as more fortunate...and want your money.  Perhaps I see some of you as 'hot' and want your body.  Or maybe I am just looking for acceptance and respect that I could never find in my real persona.  But, you just don't know.

Maybe now you will start checking me out.  On different websites.  By google search.  Searching by username, searching by email if you know it.  Checking the posts on my blog to see if there appears to be any comments by people who know me 'in real life'.  Checking my facebook to see if there are neighbours, friends from school, family.  That it is not just a list of people I found through groups or friend suggestions, or other connections.  Whether people on my friends list are tagged in my photos.  Do it.  Please.  Do it before trusting me with your facebook friendship beyond limited.  Do it especially if you plan to meet me.

I am not saying people on the net are generally bad.  I am just saying, please be careful.

The trigger for this - I see this guy back on facebook...he has an open profile.  Once more, he is adding NRI girls from North America.  I can't warn them.  But I can warn you.  All is not necessarily as it seems.


  1. This one thing has bothered me from the beginning about net....Virtual friends are virtual only, till we meet in person.

  2. Good blog it's true very ture what you say we are not all bad and lie but there are some out there that do this and make it bad. Renu you are very right on this. Also my feelings are why lie be honest because if you are not it will come back to you and you will have bad karma

  3. lolz! Well, and to think of it, I had agreed to meet you up during your next India tour, without even hunting you down on each of the social networking sites and the mighty Google! Sheesh! I guess I gotta get back to work and find out every guy (or girl?) you ever slept with!! :-p

  4. Brutally honest Cathy!
    I spoke about such fraudulent profile users a few months back, when I had been duped myself by a seemingly harmless girl living in the States and was so very friendly...As it had turned out, the pics she was using were not hers and the gurl after many months of communicating through facebook uploads completely vanished in thin air...

    There is lot of weird stuff going on over the internet and caution n discretion to personal matters is the only least unless you are surer...
    As for you...OMG...u have now made me really nervous about u!;-)
    Now there has to be some credit given to knowing and getting to understand someone also...!
    You are an awesome friend and shall remain:-)

  5. @ Renu, that is exactly it. And, while most people are good and mostly as they seem (and I say this having met about 20 friends off the web), there is always that risk that someone is not. I think that the important thing is to know how to protect ourselves - meeting in public, being aware of inconsistencies etc. That way, we can enjoy meeting the majority of great people, while being safe from that minority.

  6. @Nickelo Thank you :) And yes, I totally agree with you on 'why pretend' (and I think we would all be a lot safer if everyone did believe in karma...some people would behave so differently) be praised for something you are not...or to bond with people only by pretending...just not for me. I would rather have limited people who know than many who liked my invention.

  7. @Shayon Well, you are still going to have to meet me. I just want you to live in fear of it mwahaha :D Go on, stalk me, it will make me feel important :P Although, of course, that reminds me to mention...some people will maintain the same persona over blogs, social networking sites, even on chat or the sites may all tally it is still important to be alert to inconsistencies, and also to look for obvious signs of someone who is not being honest...lack of 'real' friends, few photos of them etc.

    So be afraid, be very afraid :D

  8. @Queen Thank you :) That means a lot, from you :)

  9. @Suruchi Yes, I remember it well :) And have encountered it myself...through the 'Feed a Child' application on facebook of all damage was done, but for some reason a woman with a daughter of working age was posing as being in her 20s and flirting with a 20-something guy (oh, he is really good looking and one of the nicest guys I just (seriously just...maybe I am dumb) occurred to me that maybe this was her entire reason!)

    Do be afraid. I am not called Wicked or Evil for nothing :P Of course, you know Harsh online who knows me in real, but is possible he is just my wiser, more moderate alter ego. Or he could be keeping secrets for me...I know, I have done that...

    And thank you :D (of course, you could just be saying that out of fear now that my evil is truly revealed :P)

  10. Hmmmm, should I really be saying anything at all? good post Cathy. :)

  11. hey...
    interesting post...indeed one cannot trust what they see needs to be very careful these days and must avoid sharing personal details....

  12. OMG...he is????? No way. didnt tell me about the two that met him!!!

  13. @Sakshi Well, I think this shows just how really anyone can be taken in by someone determined and smooth enough...the girl from the US was highly intelligent and very successful in her work...and yet went so far. And, thank you :)

    @Oxymoron Thank you :) And so right...even where people have no intention of deceit, you are only seeing a certain percentage of who they are, whether online or in real life...and when someone seeks to deceive it is very difficult to detect if they are reasonably clever...especially without the visual cues/body language. Yes, must add not sharing personal details to the list along with not planning to meet them - not addresses, not school name etc.

    @Laureen Yes he is lol...and I'm sure I was the girl who lives near you (I remember I showed you her photo)...the odd thing is this same girl is back on his list even...maybe he will get his money and green card yet! Will remind you on chat :D

  14. Hmmm dont know what to say... these are things i thght any guy/gal who comes online shud kno

  15. It's a paradox isn't it, whom to trust. I think personally it's just best not try to contact or try to be personal with anyone on the internet. It's good for them and it's good for me.

    In general more you entangle yourself with some one more chances of getting hurt. It's a risk we all take, but like you say even it might feel bad its better to play safe.

    I still don't get how some really nice women fall for a guy who is really a piece of work and vice a versa. Some things just go beyond logic.

    Oh BTW as long as any of you are on social networks and you are using it for personal are never safe no matter how good you are at hiding stuff.

    and also to all the people who are used to pirated softwares ( remember nobody gives things for free). Think about it, you spend months cracking a software and you just give it out for free! there is a always a catch.

  16. Thought-provoking!!
    And true..."trust" is just a given these days...specially online...
    Nice post! :)

  17. Hey Cathy...
    There is a cute little award waaaaaaaaaaiting for you on my blog....
    Please get your cute bum there and receive it...I am kinda tired holding it now...;-)

  18. @Sid Well, I guess we all know to be wary, but also can come to bond with and trust people, and feel that we know them. But of course, some people, while appearing very frank about their lives, are actually deliberately making people think they are other than what they are.

  19. @ санжог Hmm, I couldn't see myself avoiding altogether - I have met some great people online, who have also been great in real. And think it can be safe and entirely positive. There are some things though which can make us feel more assured (if someone has their schoolfriends and family on their facebook page with posts, photos etc) and some that should make us worry (no apparent irl friends, not using real name, not using real photo).

    It is definitely a little scary how much information there is 'out there' about us now - and able to be found so readily - from linkedin, facebook etc. Including our current location where this feature is used.

  20. @Shalini Thank you! :) Trust is always an interesting thing - and yes, especially online, where we lack the other cues...I must admit, I have trusted some people online (and still alive and well)...but do check out a few things.

  21. @ Suruchi Thank you! :) I will run over and check it out for sure! :)

  22. ohh i completely agree with you...about crazy nuts running around the net..i wish people would have more sense, use their brains a ,il more in figuring out whats true n whats not..and of course i really hope people dont mind anyone else's know let people do their stuff, as long as someone is not troubling you, stay away...Cathy i guess young kids, insecure people , people who seek attention r the ones who mostly fall prey to such kinds!

    PS: I still wanna meet the beasties when you come :)

  23. @Sulagna Oh yes, they definitely need to try and figure it out - and you are right, the problem is that it is the vulnerable who often fall prey.

    Interesting that you mention not minding anyone else's business - as, in some cases, it becomes necessary to protect others. For example, if some sleazy guy is luring very young women or girls. In this case, I think it would be irresponsible to take the approach of just ignoring if they are not specifically bothering you. Would you, say, let some guy alone if you felt he was a threat to Nil? I know I would not.

    I also believe there is a clear difference between someone perhaps misrepresenting themselves without risking others, and deliberately deceiving and aiming to get others closer. For example, if I wrote in this blog as a 24 year old with no kids, just about travels and work, perhaps a few little lies about clubs and all, but did not engage with people personally, that is fine. But, if I were to then add these people in facebook (still not revealing truth), on chat, or meet them in real still under such pretext, then that is very different.

  24. hey but that doesn mean ppl arent true on the net ..!!!!!
    there r a lot o genuin eppl out ther ..
    besides if u be just a lil careful as to not get emotionally attched to n e one from the net ow does it make a diff ..?
    u don have to stop blogging ,,
    i was sik of it too it happens when u get stukin tat writers blok ..
    blogging can sometimes seem meaningless
    but its onli when u keep writing that u reliase how much veevry post id n how exciting every comments ..!!
    i insist don stop blogging ,,,i have a very few blogger frns as it is cant afford to loose n e mm

  25. Excellent post...One should nevr form strong relationships on virtual knowledge only..for that meeting personally is a must.

  26. Amnn, I totally agree - there are a lot of good people out there on the net, and of course (as shown by me :P) even the very best and nicest people are on the net. It is just a matter of caution and reasonable common sense. While some can apply that, I think others are more vulnerable and so are reluctant to see even obvious warning signals.

    It is true that blogging can seem meaningless - and I did delete a lot of my old blog posts because of that - but then, it can also be a lot of fun, a nice way to meet people, and now that I have deactivated facebook, a great way to waste time and avoid ironing :D

    Since you insisted, here I am...:)

    Rene, thank you :) And yes, I totally agree - if we meet someone online in isolation from their 'real' life, then there should certainly be reserve. We can form strong and even trusting bonds on the net, but meeting is necessary to be sure it is 'real' (and yes, I have seen people who are old enough to know better - those in their 40s even - who have become engaged without any meeting!)