I was talking with a few people at the munch, and we got on to the subject of fantasists; people who present a fantasy version of their lives as reality on twitter.
Of course, we all have a tendency to exaggerate or downplay certain aspects of our lives and relationships, and we have every right to do so. We are under no obligation to share more than we want to, just because we have a kinky twitter account or a sex blog. But this concerns people who are being outright dishonest, and lying to people who are part of the community.
The romantic, catfish-style deception has been covered by podcasts and blog posts, and we know (in theory at least) the red flags to look out for. We were more concerned with the deceivers who lie to a huge swathe of people, people who consider them friends. The ones who invent an entire fictional life, populated with fictional characters and creating fictional drama to gain attention, sympathy, admiration, followers and blog clicks.
Mentioning no names, of course.
Obviously, there is a mental health aspect for some of the people who do this, while some seem to do it purely for entertainment or the attention; should that change the way we view them and their actions? Does the motivation behind the lies ever excuse them? Regardless of the deceiver’s emotional or mental state, their lies and deceptions are real. The betrayals are real. The damage done to relationships, friendships and reputations is real.
Do we have a responsibility to make our kinky friends and acquaintances aware of our suspicions? Especially considering their reputation within the community might be damaged if they innocently become associated with the deception? If we quietly mention our misgivings to those we trust, we may discover that many other people have reason to share our doubts, or that those doubts were unfounded. What should our threshold of evidence be before we make our reservations known?
How might we warn people who are being deceived without exposing ourselves to accusations of bullying? Nobody wants to see the community torn apart by anonymous “tips” that so-and-so isn’t who they claim to be.
Once a person’s deception has been recognised, how it it best handled? Confront and challenge? Withdraw and disengage? Or carry on as if nothing has changed?
Most importantly, what about the risks involved with those dishonest blogs/tweets being cited by respected community members, unaware of the deception? With the dishonest person being recommended as a knowledgeable resource, when their actual experience is very different to what they “advertise” on their twitter, blogs or websites? Does this put new or naïve people at risk, when they get a portion of their information (or form their expectations) from someone who is posting what is essentially a soap opera? Particularly when they have been directed there by someone who is genuinely respected and trusted within the community, and whose recommendation carries weight. It’s like your trusted family doctor telling you to watch General Hospital for medical advice; at best it’s inappropriate and misleading, at worst it’s downright dangerous.
Well, those are just a few of the points that came up during the discussion, and I certainly would be interested to hear your thoughts, dear reader. Obviously there is a tiny chance that someone reading this might turn out to be one of those deceptive people, but….
Ultimately, we all know how vitally important honesty is, and how a betrayal of trust can damage the community and everyone in it. If we value this community, I believe that we have a responsibility to protect its integrity.
Mentioning no names, of course.