Trust and the Interweb

Yesterday during lunch I was waxing nostalgic with a friend about some baseball homerun history. We were discussing how nice it was back before we knew about all of the steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. Back when we could trust names like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Alex Rodriguez. When we could just kick back, watch them do their thing and simply enjoy it.

Then one by one the big names started going down. Each fallen star piercing through our faith in the game like a bullet. You really try not to become cynical, but after a while you just get worn down. Fuck you Manny Ramirez. Fuck you baseball. Fuck everybody and everything.

And that is how it is sometimes on the internet. You hang around long enough on the web and you are sure to see some pretty messed up stuff. Eighteen year old girl dies of cancer a few days ago. I am saddened by this. Eighteen year old cancer girl turns out to be fake. I am angered by this. What the hell am I supposed to believe anymore? Do people have no shame?

I’ve seen many people who take great pride in being cynics and skeptics. I for one refuse to be one of them, no matter how much society pushes me to. It is a very sad thing not to be able to trust in things. To always be looking over your shoulder, to lose your faith in humanity. I don’t want any part of that myself.

So do me a favor people. The next time some little girl posts about dying of cancer don’t automatically call her a lying bitch. (Even though that is apparently what happened in this case.) Don’t become that person.

The world is already cynical enough without you.

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63 comments

  1. Ha, shrug. I’ve been that cynic for awhile now. Then again, I fell in love online, with a boy that – at the time – I’d never met. So maybe there’s a bit of hopeful optimist left in me.

  2. Eh, it’s the web. I won’t be an automatic cynic and I’ll continue to be disappointed when things like that happen. But in the big picture, does it really matter? Even our friends and co-workers disappoint us in the none internet world. It’s a part of life. 

  3. I really liked that girl, too. She was a friend of mine.Hard to respect someone after that, but you’re right. She’s just one individual. It doesn’t mean everyone who claims to have cancer is lying.

  4. Well, let’s see what happened here… A bunch of people cared about a girl they thought was dying, and they prayed and worried about her and friended her. Not exactly the end of the world. I don’t exactly feel betrayed because I prayed for someone who didn’t have cancer. Clearly, she had other issues.Oh, and the first part of your post (about baseball) reminded me of a Styx song from ages ago… “Show Me The Way.” It includes a lyric that goes “I’m more confused as the Saints turn into Sinners. All the heros and legends I knew as a child, have fallen (never could get the next part) and I feel this empty place inside, so I pray that I’ve lost my faith…”iTunes is taking it from there for me! 

  5. I don’t openly post about my troubles too often, because I don’t want pity.  Where there is life there is hope.  For individuals and for the species to get their act together.   

  6. I’ve been around teh interwebs enough that she triggered the alarms in my head. In other words, I’ve learned to when to be cynical, to have some idea of how to distinguish between what’s fake and what’s real. Someone who’s reflexively cynical is no smarter than someone who’s reflexively credulous.

  7. As we all told Dan, it’s OK to love and support someone even if you turn out to be wrong; I’d rather people love too much and sometimes suffer the consequences than go around constantly spiteful and cold.

  8. It’s sorta like that time I made a post stating I was famous in Russia, using really fake pictures. Some people believed it. There are very gullible minds out in the internet. Not everything you see or hear is true.That’s why we have Wikipedia. ha

  9. Plus anyone’s dying wish to have 1000 Xanga friends is a bit egocentric to me. My dying wish would not be anything related to the internet, it’d be to travel or see the people I love. I’d be too busy and far away to check my Xanga.

  10. I almost always try to trust the people on Xanga, but in the back of my mind, I always remember that I don’t really KNOW them. You never know if people are who they say they are. The thing about trusting people is that you have to have a little faith in humanity in order to trust… sometimes it’s worth it, other times you get shot down. It’s part of life. For the most part, the people on Xanga I know are quite trustworthy and the ones who aren’t are rather easy to spot.

  11. I prefer to take people on the internet at face value (unless they’re WAY out there, like BBDD or Perez_on_X). I’m not as naive as you may think, I just choose to err on the side of compassion most of the time. What I consider the greater betrayal is publicly posting about unsubbing a xanga friend, publicly posting a private message, publicly outing somebody’s alternate xanga username by sharing their IP address AND their home address, publicly denouncing a xangan AND his wife and children. I’ve seen all this and more and I think it’s much more abhorrent than some kid lying about cancer to get attention. I pray that she was lying, because the thought of an 18-year-old dying (of a brain aneurysm, to be accurate) makes me feel much worse.

  12. My friend asked me why I still mentioned Ken Caminiti as a talented, trustworthy person, despite what we know about him. The difference between him and McGwire? Ken was always upfront about what he did. He admitted to using steroids before it was even against the rules. Internet is trickier. Trust doesn’t seem to be a virtue on the internet. There’s a difference in believing your hero did things legitimately and believing somebody who pops up and claims to be dying of cancer. It’s all about grains of salt.

  13. came over on a rek … great post … i see skepticism is a must in this “small” world we exist in … especially when we are not tete-a-tete … messed up world, yes … do trust and skepticism balance each other? … cynicism is always an option … sometimes an unpleasant one … i still trust people until given a reason to not trust … i too “believed” the 18-year-old dying … harumph … oh well … i’ll do bettah tomorrow …

  14. I’m the eternal optimist, but my spirits are damaged by deceit. It did seem WAY over the top though. I mean,it’s like a compounded tragedy… your mom dies from skin cancer andyou’re diagnosed with the same disease when you’re 5… you give birthto a child you claim is your sister because you were raped by your ownfather… and then when cancer becomes aggressive and you’re given 6-8months to live, you instead die prematurely due to a brain aneurysm.I dunno… very X Files -ish to me.

  15. yeah, there’s too much cynicism in the world, and on the Internets.  part of it is because people try to make heroes of celebrities, only to learn that they are just regular people, too.  i don’t see why that should lead a person to be cynical, but apparently, it does.  that’s why i work hard to maintain the image that i’m perfect.  i wouldn’t want to cause any sort of disillusionment.@Kestryl – oh, stop.  you are SUCH an eternal optimist.  must i repost the blog outting you as a gentle, kind, WARM-HEARTED person?  must i? 

  16. I am very very careful online I have had my life put in danger by allowing too much information to get out, but I still tend to believe what people tell me unless they give me a reason not to. I will gladly show care and concern for a 1,000 people only to learn that 999 of them are liars rather than becoming so hardened that I let the one person out of a 1,000 who simply needed a human to reach out to slip past unnoticed. I will happily be made the fool 999 times for the sake of the 1 real person who really needs a friend.

  17. I keep quoting Oscar Wilde but alas: “The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”I made up my mind a long time ago it is really easy to be a cynic, I decided I didn’t want my life to be easy.

  18. What is it about the internet that jumbles cells in that crazy cramped area between the ears?  Why can’t people be decent and human even on the freaking web?  Bravo to your post

  19. Great post. I am a forever optimist and try to see the best in all people. When something strikes me as odd, I like to dig a little deeper and see if it’s nothing or something. Most of the time, it’s nothing and my ‘best in people’ attitude is confirmed. This last time I dug a little, I found something really off. I wanted to share what I thought with others because it was so wide spread around xanga.This girl was one person in a million. I hope that once this all dies down that no one will feel jaded because of it, myself included, and will still offer compassion and support to the next person who needs it, without a doubt that they are being truthful. 

  20. This post reminds me of how when Michael Jackson’s death news first came out (well, at the time, the question was whether he was in a coma or dead), people were being cynical and stating how they wouldn’t be surprised if the whole thing was a sham. Others downright claimed that Michael Jackson’s death was a publicity stunt, without knowing any better.I mean, of course one can’t ALWAYS put trust in something or someone, but there’s a difference between in being cautious and just full-on skeptical, mocking anything and everything in sight. Mockery just turns people off.Great post.

  21. They say to  trust a woman’s  intuition, and I can’t speak for other women, because I’m not in their head  to know what their actual intuition was, but for me I’ve only been wrong once.  And it was in a situation where  I thought someone was a decent person at heart with a few quirks.  He turned out to be an awful person.  But I’m pretty certain  he’s a true sociopath, so  I  let myself off the hook for being wrong.  I’ve been meeting  people online for nearly 10 years.  I allow myself to be a bit cynical/skeptical so that I don’t end up meeting, in person, a psycho that is going to cause harm to me.  I think in this world there’s a need for a small bit of skepticism and that it’s just called common sense.  Online and  IRL.  I think that I balance between  skepticism and too  trusting.  I’ve been hurt a lot, and I still  keep trusting, and I agree, that it’s better to trust and be hurt than to write all people off and remain alone.I went to her site with the intent to follow through with her wish.  Then I read a few  things, and realized she was lying.  And then I was torn  on what to do.  Obviously a person has issues if they’re willing to go online to trick people to get attention.  What harm would be done with just a little bit of attention?  None.But then one of  my best friends is fighting cancer.  And I have lost other people I’ve cared about to cancer, and  it  angers me when  people lie about such things.  It angers me when people prey on others’ compassion and kindness.  Then again maybe I’m just more judgemental of liars because  for so many years I sought attention and compassion and pity through lies.   Awful lies that I am so ashamed about.  And then something tragic really happened, and  I realized what hurt really felt  like, and  I know I’ll never  lie about anything again.  I hate that I took advantage of others’ kindness to feed my selfishness.  But then she took her site down before I could pick which side I’d choose.I  will continue to  choose kindness first.  But  I will also continue to  be skeptical about the important things.  I think I balance it well. 

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