The Strangest 4 days

I feel I really have to document what has happened in the last 4 days. To say they have been emotional is an understatement. Those who know me know that I really enjoy and see the value of Twitter. I have made many ‘friends’ there and find it a hugely supportive and helpful network. I have actually met several people that I follow and they are just as lovely in real life. But as with any social network, it doesn’t come without its drawbacks. I have a very trusting nature and really care about people. Now you might think that’s a good thing, right? Well yes, it is most of the time but occasionally that nature is exploited and I have discovered that I am very easily taken in and duped.
At the weekend I was told that a blog I followed last year was fake. I was so shocked that I’d been taken in by it and even donated money to help those people who were stranded far from home with a very ill premature baby and mounting bills. They had also exploited another couple with a genuine story and used their blog to highlight their own ‘dilemma’. This was bad enough but what followed next was devastating.
Another trusted and lovely ‘friend’ had documented her terrible time over the last two years. I won’t go into details because most people reading this know the full story. She called me her twitter mum and I felt honoured to be so. We shared tweets, texts and emails. We travelled with her through births and illnesses, marriages and deaths. Nobody could believe that one family could suffer so much hardship. I sent gifts. I donated to The Meningitis Trust. I tried to always be there through the bad times to console and through the good times to congratulate.
Then Wednesday night brought a flurry of Twitter activity revealing the deception we had all been subjected to. Photographs of someone else’s twins from their blog – that was bad enough – but later in the evening, photos of the alleged wedding a couple of weeks ago. They were indeed someone’s wedding – but not that of the person who drew us in. Even worse, I collected all the tweets on the wedding day, along with some of these photos and made them into an Apple album (which was not cheap!) and posted it to them. This means that I also used someone else’s wedding photos without their consent.
The Twitter community was affected terribly. We had grieved, lit candles and shared some pretty raw emotions and were left with incredulity that someone could do such a thing.
Even now, in my own heart, I am confused about which bits were real (if any) and which were pure fantasy. I’m shocked that anyone could use others’ photos and wonder how these people will react when they find out – as they most certainly will. 
I can’t understand the reason behind this and won’t even try. But I hope I have learned from this. I won’t run away from Twitter because there are so many lovely. genuine people on there. But I will certainly be much more careful about investing any emotion on people I have never met.

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9 responses to “The Strangest 4 days

  1. Well done Lynda. I'm so glad you have written and have been able to lay some of it out. I'm like you – not sure what to believe and my involvement was not where near the level of yours. I had to write a post too so that I got it out of my head. It is still in my heart though. I'm not ashamed of that because, as I told you, that is the sort of people we are. We will & do get hurt but we the best of people. We have yet to meet but I know you as a supportive person and hope that we can continue to be virtual friends until we can meet! x

  2. Well put Lynda. I think you have put a lot of people's feelings into words. I'm really sorry that you more than any of us were so betrayed. As I have said to you before, it is all a testament to what a kind and caring person you are.Just know that as much as you have invested your emotions in your Twitter friends, others are doing the same for you.I may not exchange tweets with you often – I'm almost as shy on Twitter as I am in real life so not great at small talk! – but I do feel glad to have you as a Twitter friend.

  3. Thank you for writing this Lynda. I can only begin to imagine how betrayed you must feel after investing so much emotion (not to mention time and money) on these people.I too was sucked in by this deception, even though I have always been very wary of following or allowing followers that I don't know personally. Social media has so many merits, but like anything in life there will always be those who choose to use them to amuse themselves by extorting time, money and/or emotion from trusting people. For those of us who do get sucked in, intelligence doesn't come into it; anyone capable of feeling is a target. I will continue to use twitter for my PLN, however, unless I have actually met (in person) a tweeter I will find it very difficult to take anything that is said at face value. And this makes me very sad 😦

  4. I was one of the sceptics I'm afraid but even I am still see-sawing between being aghast, confused, curious and downright angry. At the moment I am angry. Really really angry and I'll tell you why. I hope that 'Harriet' reads this…My mum, the author of this blog, is one of the most caring, generous, trusting, loving and helpful people you could ever meet. She is the ultimate 'people person' and has a genuine belief in the potential of others that others cannot sometimes see, as can be evidenced in her years of teaching in deprived areas. She is so selfless and if she sees or feels someone is in trouble she will always put their needs first even at the detriment of herself. In this situation, she formed a relationship, she shared the joys but mostly, she actually felt the pain of the story. This caused distress, real, body wracking grief and unhappiness. I don't think even this though was greater than the numbness, pain and anguish caused by last night. I really consider that the perpetrator of this is guilty of emotionally abusing my mother and if I could get hold of him/her…well I'd have a few things to say!We aren't beaten, we have REAL relationships, REAL love and REAL respect that will see us through. Mum will continue to give her heart and trust willingly, because that's who she is. I just hope that no one ever dares to take it for granted in this way again.

  5. Well said Lynda.. And everyone else x

  6. Thank you Lynda. I feel so sickened when I think of the prayers, tears and thoughts I have used over the last 21 months. I will never understand her/him/them. When I think of the confidences I shared via email and twitter My stomach knots again. I have foud myself doubting the integrity of other twitter people today. That is unfair. I have met some titter folk so can prove I am real but should I fel I have to? Sad week. I haven't told my family and friends. Feel it would give the rest of my twitter friends a bad name. Unfortunately it is difficult to switch emotion on and off. You are in m thoughts. Take care, hugsAnn D. @miiesd

  7. Lynda. I too have experienced a strange series of emotions relating to this most peculiar story and have found myself surprisingly preoccupied with it. For you, however, the impact must have been so much more profound. I am truly sorry for the position you, and so many others, have found yourselves in amongst the fall-out.Can I share some thoughts relating to my own experiences that I know have helped me a little these past days? Firstly, I was thinking back to the days when hitch-hiking used to be far more prevalent in the UK than it is now. We used to frequently see hitchers at motorway junctions and main roads out of town and, as a regular hitcher myself, I would often stop and give these people lifts. After a small percentage of such journeys, I would sometimes be left feeling a little ‘odd’. The conversation with these strangers would necessarily include plenty of ‘back-story’ and there were clearly occasions where people were duping me, or taking the opportunity to live out and describe a kind of fantasy existence to me in the safety of a completely anonymous social encounter afforded by the offer of a lift. Now, this didn’t bother me too much, I put it down to the fact that some people are more needy than others, might have a social problem or whatever and the brevity of it all meant that there was little in terms of emotional commitment on my part. So, this is clearly nothing new and it seems, having read up about it now that social media, Twitter, online fora, blogs etc can, for some, provide a more extended hitch-hiked ride. Perhaps there is also a spectrum of needs and behaviours with those of us who might idly fantasise about what it might be like to have a dream job at one end of the spectrum and more serious cases of Munchhausens by Proxy and Munchhausens by Internet at the other end.Secondly, I was thinking about mental illness and the impact it has upon those around the sufferer. Again, there are degrees of mental illness and variations in the illnesses themselves all with varying impact upon friends and family. Consider the alcoholic: they are aware of their destructive behaviour, it has a profound impact upon immediate family and those that care most about the sufferer. The people closest and those that care the most (and invest the most emotionally) are often those that suffer the most in the fall-out. The alcoholic may be aware of the fall-out and the potential damage they are causing but, because they are ill, they may not be able to stop the damaging behaviour. Along side this, the nearest and dearest continue to invest – because that is the sort of people they are. You invested in someone who is ill. You did this because of the kind of person you are. You didn’t know that the person was ill but this doesn’t invalidate your investment.Keep being you. I hope you will feel better soon.Dughall

  8. Thank you everyone for your kind messages. I am only one of the people hurt by all of this. We seem to have been through every negative emotion but we just have to draw a line under this and move on. I actually feel a hole left by the loss of this person I thought was my friend but I have certainly learned a valuable lesson.

  9. Well, this explains a lot. I followed the story on which you talked about and used to check in once a month to see how things were going. I went to check this month and everything had disappeared. I guess this explains it.

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