Some people reading the following entry will know who the person is, however it is not relevant to name them etc.
3 years ago there was an incident which affected the way I feel about people I speak to over the internet. Basically I became friends with this person and I believed them to be genuine in what they were telling me about their health. I guess at times, I might have had the odd doubt about what they said but dismissed it as I had no reason to doubt what they were saying and felt guilty for doing so. However the incident that occurred was that the person claimed to be seriously ill in Intensive Care and pretended to be a family member expressing concern about the person. Looking back, I found it very shocking; especially given a few months before I myself had ended up in Intensive Care because of my Asthma. Anyway to the point, it transpired that it was all untrue. I was probably one of the people least affected by that situation as there were others who were lied to in worse ways/more significantly. But now the thing is ever since I have found it really difficult to trust people in online medical communities. I have said to my friends that when the person did what they did it shattered the trust between us all. Some people are now feeling they have to prove their illnesses which merely exacerbates the problem. I have to be honest in that I am quite wary about new people and what they say about themselves because of this experience and what makes me feel so guilty is that there is often no base to my skepticism. I didn’t used to be like this but this person, who clearly has some kind of psychological problems has affected how I view others for the concern that they will turn out to be the same which is unfair.
So anyone reading this now might be thinking why is she blogging about this 3 years later? Well the person has again been exposed for lying to a different health community which some friends of mine have been affected by last week. The level of deceit this time was on a much larger scale in that it went on for a longer period of time, people had formed very close personal relationships with this person and also because money had been raised for the charity (which supports the sufferers of the condition and their families as well as research etc) and now its unclear if people donated because they thought she had the condition and also because not all fundraising was done directly through websites like Just Giving.
I am feeling a bit conflicted about what has happened; one side of me is very angry and confused, the other tells me that this person has severe psychological problems and needs help. Things have changed too much with that person for me to want to try to help them all it does is make me greatly concerned for their state of mind to do the things they do in addition to the occupation they want to follow which involves a lot of patient contact.
Parents and school teachers always tell you to be careful who you speak to online and I’ve never felt I have gone against this as the focus has always been on those who are predatory and have ill intentions however these experiences have made me experience a side of the internet where people who are essentially harmless are ‘predators’ for want of a better word for sympathy and attention. I am acutely aware that people are not always who they say they are and thus I’ll remain skeptical of anyone like this which I think is a double-edged sword in that I find it hard to trust new people who generally are absolutely genuine.
There is no real point to this post but I just feel I needed to get some of these thoughts out.