Catfish Tales: About the Time a Woman Who Didn't Actually Exist Became a Contributor to Pajiba
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Catfish Tales: About the Time a Woman Who Didn't Actually Exist Became a Contributor to Pajiba

By Dustin Rowles | Think Pieces | August 6, 2012 | Comments ()


True story, and I don't know if I've shared this one explicitly or not, but I know I hinted at it in the past: Around the time that the documentary Catfish -- about a guy who tracks down a potential love interest from Facebook only to find out she'd created a fake personae to pursue him -- came out, we had our own Catfish experience here at Pajiba. There was a woman who had contributed on several occasions to the site, and who was a very large part of the Pajiba Facebook community. She was very sweet, very clever, and as it turns out, very, very fake.

I never saw it coming, nor did most of the people in the Pajiban Facebook community. She had exchanged emails with many of us, confided us, and shared intimate details of her life. Likewise, many of us had confided details about our own lives to her. She even had telephone relationships with some of the others in the community and had become what might be considered in the Internet age close friends with many of us.

Her undoing, however, was the fact that bad things always seemed to happen to her. She divulged a cancer diagnosis to some of us individually (asking us not to tell), she seemed to frequently come down with a strange list of maladies, and extraordinarily dramatic things tended to happen to her on a weekly basis These events and these illnesses and conditions elicited our sympathies, and only after a great deal of time had passed did I even begin to suspect a kind of hypochondria, that she thrived on the attention. That this person didn't actually exist in the real world never even occurred to me.

How was she caught? It was kind of an amazing story, really. She landed a boyfriend (who we thought was totally real! We saw his Facebook page and everything!). However, weeks after she met him, this woman got in a serious accident that left her in a coma, news we got second hand via texts from the boyfriend. Another Facebook Pajiban (I'll not disclose any names in case they'd rather not be revealed, although they might share more details with you in the comments) began to get suspicious, and did some deep investigating. Ultimately, what he discovered after going as far as speaking to her actual father (who was clueless as to the alleged accident) was that the woman who was writing for us was actually an older woman who lived alone with her mother. She had created an elaborate online identity, along with a fake Facebook page for her boyfriend, for the purposes of being someone else specifically for this particular community of people. She pulled it off for well over a year.

After we discovered this, I tried, unsuccessfully, to lure her out with a comment diversion. After that failed, some in the Facebook community called her on her lies, and she continued to spin them even as it had become apparent that the jig was up. Eventually, she was backed so far into a corner of her own fabrications that she had no choice but to abandon her fake identity. She stopped posting on Facebook and Twitter, and so far as I know, no one ever heard from her again.

What would drive a person to do this? I suppose a desire to belong, to be someone else more appealing than she believed herself to be. The reality is, however, that she was funny and clever all on her own (that can't be faked), and I doubt anyone -- at least among the Pajiban community -- would've cared about the details of her actual life. She even used her real name (a common enough name that would've been difficult to isolate), which suggested there was as much truth to her fake identity as there were lies.

All of which is to say, I don't know if the documentary Catfish is real -- or, as many have suggested -- a total hoax. Regardless, people like the woman at the center of that documentary do exist. They're all over the world. You may not even know it, but you may be close Facebook friends with a completely made-up person.

The point? Because of this experience, I was more drawn that I might otherwise be to the news of MTV's 12-part series inspired on the documentary. Catfish the TV series -- set to debut this fall -- is a show that visits couples who fell in love over the Internet only to discover the real-life person isn't who he or she had been led to believe. I'm mostly curious about the motivations, the lengths these people go in order to keep the ruse going, the ultimate outcomes, and what the real people behind the fake identities are like. I know MTV is not typically the best platform for thought-provoking television, but if the network can bring the same level of thought to Catfish as they do to the Real Life series, it could be a compelling and insightful television series.

(It also might be worth noting that this bizarre tale was actually one-upped in the Pajiba Community around the same time when a woman in divorce proceedings with her husband -- one of my all-time favorite commenters -- used his email address and Facebook account to attempt to convince me to delete all of his comments and persuade me to divulge the details of an extramarital affair he -- to my knowledge -- was not having. Eventually, it got so confusing that I had no idea if I was exchanging emails with the commenter or his wife pretending to be him, so I quit responding to both of them. Sorry, dude.)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Uriah_Creep

    If I'd wanted to fool you fine people, I sure as hell wouldn't have chosen to be a
    middle-aged white Canadian man from North Ontario. No sir, shit is real over here. I would have been a sexy woman in my mid-twenties and probably living in Toronto. And living the high life.

    Are we sure about Dustin, though? His whole story has always seemed highly suspicious to me.

  • PissBoy

    I faked an orgasm once. I wasn't proud. My back hurt, and I had to poop.

  • damnitjanet

    Crap! I AM REAL! I swear! Seriously, I have no idea who we are talking about....

  • gunter

    Strange weirdness I tell you

  • becks2point0

    Eeps! That's awful and I didn't know about any of it. I also didn't realize that there was a divide of the female regulars and it makes me a little sad.

    As for the second part about the commenter's wife, she contacted me repeatedly also (for some reason she perceived that I was lovely and on her side) and I've missed him since he's been gone too. If you still read the site, just come on back. There's nothing to be embarrassed about. We all know someone with a slightly unhinged ex. Come back with the same name too because it was one of my very favorite.

  • Belkwinith

    Really quick - I had two roomates in college back in the 1980s. A tall roomate and a short roomate. I was the one in the middle.
    The tall roomate was cute, funny, rich, loaded with money and tons of school supplies. Anything you might want, she had. Binders, paper, pens, tons of supplies because she worked at the Campus store and "if you worked there you got supplies for free".
    She also told us that she had been "beaten and gang raped" by some criminals and that this was the reason why she was depressed or sad at various times. She told this to EVERYONE. So everytime she got sad or mopey, everyone would fawn over her and give her tons of attention. In the middle of the year, she was having a very bad time because the criminals were up for parole and she had to go home to testify at their parole hearings. Everything knew about this and we were all very supportive. She seemed to need a lot of physical hugs and attention at this time, so everyone gave this to her. People bought her gifts and cards and took her out, to keep her mind off the upcoming hearings.She went home on a Thursday for the hearings and to testify. On Saturday, having not heard from her, my roomate and I called her home. Her mother answered the phone and we asked her, "How did it go with Judy at the parole hearings?" Of course her mother had no idea what we were talking about. Judy was out camping with her dad and brothers. There was no parole hearing, no gang rape, no visits to psycatristics & doctors for her assult injuries... nothing. Crazy huh!Right then and there my short roomate moved out! She packed up her stuff and took off! Leaving me to confront Ms. Psyco-liar myself when she came back. So in she comes, and I ask her how it went and she mopes and cries about how hard it was to face these criminals and I let her go on and on and FINALLY I tell her to "SHUT UP! We all know it is a complete lie! How could you lie about something like this!?" She freaked out, packed up her bags and thenSHE left. Now I had NO roomates. Later in the year she was arrested for stealing from the Campus store. Turns out they had been video-taping her stealing money and supplies from the store. The stuff I thought was "free because you work there" was all STOLEN. Along with all her MONEY.
    What happened to her? Well, my short roomate found me on FB and she showed me that this Psycho not only got married, but she is a GRANDMOTHER! So go figure.

  • I used to be Pants on here, but I don't know how to undo the Facebook login thingy and also don't care if people know my real name, because I have nothing to hide from bosses or anyone else (I'm self employed and get to dick around on the internet whenever I want).

    I remember being surprised at one of the Pajiba cool kids being so utterly insecure that they had to fabricate a full life of sad stories, but it didn't piss me off as much as it made me feel sorry for her. She was probably very lonely and alienated a lot of people who could have been great friends to her.

    But while we're on the subject of long lost Pajibans, where's Ted Boynton at? I had a mad crush on his brain.

  • brite

    oh hey Pants...I've missed you and your blog. Goddamned Assbook ate everyone's blog ....including mine :(

  • There was a bad case of this (still ongoing, actually) at the Regretsy Forums when they were starting to pick up speed. A jewelry maker joined us after a few of the big charity sales and mentioned she was having trouble paying for...something. Medicine? Housing? It was something big and we all opened our hearts to her.

    We helped her out in a big way. Some of us bought jewelry or tarot card readings from her Etsy store. Others promoted her on social networking, wrote about her, and tried to drum up business for her. She raked in a bunch of cash and then flaked. Merchandise was never shipped out. Anyone who contacted her got a more convoluted story about LGBT discrimination, the inadequate access to low income health care/housing, and chronic illnesses that stopped her from walking a block down the street for weeks at a time to the post office.

    When her ghost accounts started showing up to defend her, she suddenly failed the smell test and was thrown out on her ass. Her Etsy accounts were destroyed with our negative feedback (like, dropping well below 50% because she couldn't send people e-mails of tarot readings) and she jumped right to Artfire and started doing the same thing. She's still grifting people through her blog (just set to password protection so only her loyal followers can buy her necessities off of her Amazon wish list), Facebook, and various religious organizations. She's shifting from Pagan to Vodun right now as her gravy train takes her and her boyfriend New Orleans-way. I'm pretty sure that's where she's finally going to be caught for real. She falters when she deals with people in person. Easier to lie when people don't see the truth every day.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I showed up here after Dustin wrote a very scathing post about Perez Hilton and I haven't left since but I'm apparently too apathetic to get involved with others like some of you have, I don't even remember this Sarina person. I feel fortunate, I've been deceived online in the past and this would have seriously pissed me off, especially with her cat stories.

  • Kate at June

    I find myself lying at random times for no reason, like telling strangers that I'll never see again that I'm on a soccer team. (They asked if I'm a fan of the local sports team, I said I'm not--I'd rather play than watch. They asked what I played. So...)
    Anyway, I've mentioned my lying capabilities around my husband probably too much. He gets nervous eyes.

  • no one

    You are compulsively honest about your habitual lying?

  • Kate at June

    To the randoms? Nope, they can think I play soccer, won't kill 'em.
    To the husband, I have just mentioned that I lie a lot...and am good at it.
    I don't think I've ever lied to him about something meaningful though, so he can calm down.

  • L.O.V.E.

    Oh, so this person.

    Well fuck me with a tuning fork and call me a wind chime. Had no idea she was in it this deep. Pajiba's very own James Fray.

  • Anna von Beav


    I am currently reading A Million Little Pieces.

  • gp

    i remember that thread, but i don't remember it turning into such spammy hell.

    i think i just hurt my face reading to the end.

  • Kate at June

    Well, thats terrible. I read through all the other comments but didn't get the vitriol going her way until just now

  • Az

    I see your Sarina and raise you the bizarre tale of Northlad on Kevin Smith's View Askew board circa I want to say 2005-2006. This is Version 2.0 of said board. It is, quite literally, one of the weirdest things I've ever witnessed. I mean, people actually met this dude in person and he carried on the deception for quite some time. Quite traumatic for some people who had interacted with him. Another fascinating thing for me is how these people disappear never to be heard of again... I mean, you never know. They could be lurking or reappearing under another iteration. Quite creepy, really...

  • Kate at June

    Wait....if they met him in person, how could he carry it on? Did he just make up everything else about his life aside from his age/appearance?

  • BierceAmbrose

    Inspired by @Tyburn ...

    What do you do when you've been profoundly deceived? Here are a few resources that touch on how people interact and present themselves. I've found them useful.

    The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life by Erving Goffman.

    Goffman frames social interactions as sorts of plays, where people assume roles and take on the behavior to support these roles. Pasting a smile on your face as you walk up to the mandatory door, for example.

    One way to look at class and breaking into a new class is that you don't know the roles & lines when you are an interloper. Round here we pretend to be clever.

    The Drama of the Gifted Child and pretty much everything else by Alice Miller.

    Miller looks at how a particular kind of flawed parenting stifles childrens' development & can propagate through the child's life. It's essentially hopeful as she presents the bad as something you can work through, and be better for it.

    The New Peoplemaking by Virginia Satir.

    This is a pretty good entry point into an entire system of developing ones' self as a person in a system of relationships among other things.

    Hope this helps.

    I'm not sure that put-on presentation of self is all bad, if it's not the facts but how you respond to them. You don't want to lie about cancer. You can imagine yourself into being better than you are in dealing with it. "What do you do when you're not strong enough?" "You act as if you are."

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    I would also add Sam Harris e-book called "Lying"

  • Looking through Alice Miller's books on Amazon is sucking up way more of my time than I expected when I hopped over there to have a look around.

    Considering how much I love books and new authors, this is far from what I'd call a bad thing...

  • I know someone in another online community who got TOTALLY suckered by someone pretending to be something they weren't.

    This friend of mine became friends with a very young chatter, a kid who was about 12 years old, autistic, and had parental supervision to be in this community--a very clean, family-friendly community. He claimed to live in Australia, was very sweet and innocent, etc. She sent him presents, books, money, became like his older sister.

    It went on for YEARS before she somehow found out that it had all been one giant fake. The 'kid' turned out to be a bored 19 year old in Miami, I think.

    I still get angry about it.

    Aaanyway. I was here and on facebook for the whole debacle mentioned above. I do still wonder what the hell became of her. She was so damn funny and likable, and she turned out to be such a damn psycho.

    But there's good people, too, and it's not always nightmare stories. I met MrFig online and he turned out to be (mostly) sane! I've also met scores of very lovely Pajibans, who, though completely batshit insane, are pretty awesome.

  • On the bright side, I like that this post has brought out all kinds of old face-names from my stalky lurker days. Warms my heart cockles.

  • Katylalala

    Friends, it's true: people on the Internet can be bed-shittingly crazy.

    I've only posted here a handful of times, but at a place where I've been for a decade we've had many alters, crazies, faked deaths, faked cancer diagnoses, stalking, and other crazypants bullshit. It seems to me that most communities like this do.

    I wonder: do we specifically attract nutbars, or are WE all nutbars who just don't know it? I think I would prefer to BE the crazy person versus attracting the crazy person, because even cute-crazy gets old really fast.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Friends, it's true: people on the Internet can be bed-shittingly crazy.

    Fixed it.

  • Katylalala

    Hah, fair enough.

  • No lesson was learned. She did this in high school, she did it again on Pajiba/facebook/twitter/zombieforecast. She's either doing it again or is about to. She knows the trick is hiding the lies between the truths. It's a sad reminder of how long a game of make believe can go on.

    On a side note, don't forget the lengths people went to deconstruct the lies.

  • gp

    it was a confusing mess.

    what a heinous bitch.

  • Tyburn Blossom

    My mother weaves these elaborate lies around every single detail of her
    life. She does it about petty little things most of the time, and she's
    run livejournals and blogs that are about 80% fiction, but she's like
    that in real life, too. Learning to always fact check anything my own
    mother tells me has been heartbreaking, and when I forget and take her
    at her word, I more often than not find myself accidentally spouting
    total crap at people who know better and think I'm an idiot or a liar
    (more often than not, I'll accept the 'idiot' part, because I now know
    to look before repeating).

    I grew up with this constant, usually fairly harmless lying and
    embellishing as the norm, and when I was in high school, I really hit my
    stride. I had a lot of friends and so much of what I told them was such
    bullshit...There was a kind of high involved. You can make yourself
    better than you really are, and you get people eating out of your hand,
    and it's so gratifying.

    I don't remember when I stopped, but it was sometime in college. Keeping
    it up was exhausting, and I never even took it to the internet. I got
    caught in a couple of lies and when I was away in college, I didn't make
    any friends for several years. Maybe it was the time all alone with my
    own company, I don't know.

    Actually, I do. I tried to open a business. My mother was involved on
    the fringes, and she gradually took over. She created this whole thing
    that was so far from the reality of what I was doing, and she told
    EVERYONE. People at banks who could have given me loans to get it going,
    investors, random people on the street (well, not on the street, but
    lots of cashiers at various stores when she briefly had them as a
    captive audience), everyone both of us knew. I started having people
    recognize me and ask me about updates on things that weren't happening.
    It was frustrating and disorienting and eventually prevented my business
    from ever happening. Her lying didn't hurt her, but it came really
    close to ruining my life.

    She's so good at that, using me and pets and other people as props who
    inevitably get all the grief for her lies while she skips away totally
    clean to start it up all over again. She's still doing in, and she's
    still worming her way into my personal life and destroying friendships
    and cutting off opportunities. I'm not even sure if she means it
    maliciously or if she's convinced she's trying to do good. I want so
    badly to call her out, but it's never worked out for the best. She's so
    good at wrapping people around her little finger.

    Being who I am and no more has become so important to me. I still find
    myself working out carefully plotted lies and I have to remind myself,
    "Or I could tell the truth." I'm sure when I had food poisoning and
    couldn't get off the toilet, my boss would have appreciated a little
    white lie, but I feel like starting with one will get the whole ball
    rolling and I'll end up on the wrong end of this kind of story.

    I've mostly lurked around Pajiba for a lot of years. It took years
    before I commented the first time, and I do it so infrequently I imagine
    no one around here remembers me or knows who I am between one comment
    and the next. Partly I don't have the energy to keep up with all the
    awesome and partly I don't feel cool enough to hang out around here and
    partly I'm afraid that getting to entrenched in any comfortably
    anonymous company will lead right into this situation, and I don't want

    Because of the lurking, I can't claim I was her friend or anything, but
    when I saw her name I literally gasped. Even having lived with someone
    weaving those ruses, even knowing far too personally how careful you
    have to be about trusting anyone, I was still shocked and hurt. I really
    loved her work here even as a commenter before she started contributing
    to the site itself. I had wondered what happened to her and why there
    was no word.

    If it hits me so hard now, so far after the fact, and if I already
    learned that lesson the hard way many, many times, I can't imagine how
    much it must have hurt the people who really thought she was their
    friend and who are most personally hit by it. I'm so sorry, you guys.

  • Viking

    Wow I never thought I'd read something that sounded so much like my sister. She lies every time she opens her mouth. And she pretends also, pretends to bump her eyelashes on her glasses like that cheesy mascara commercial, pretends to tell off her bosses. She lies that she sees ghosts in her home even though it terrifies her own daughter, lies to me about other people in our lives. Lies to other people about me and my parents. That pisses me off more than anything, that she treats our mother so terribly. She is such a hurtful bitch in that regard. But if you met her you would think she was clever and funny and kind. When I was a kid I thought I was really unobservant because my big sister (7 year difference in age) always knew things I didn't know and saw things I had missed. I honestly believed I wasn't very bright. At some point I started to realize what a liar she was. She is 49 years old now and she still does it. I assume, anyway, I haven't spoken to her in 4 years or so. Best decision I ever made. Can someone tell me what in the hell makes a person do such a thing? It is compulsive lying right, but what makes that happen?

  • BierceAmbrose

    I know of three-and-a-half theories, that kind of blend into each other: narcissism (people with particular damage) playing out two ways, sociopaths, and just plain evil.

    There's a couple more links below. This is pretty high-voltage stuff. Folks feeling off center should maybe come at it first intellectually (Goffman), or looking at their own processes (Satir.)

    1 - Some people are so damaged that the stress of not being in control, or of being on the spot, or whatever is too much. Lying is a kind of control. A subset of this one, lying may be a kind of safety, as they can bring themselves to actually believe the fake world that is better, or at least decline to recognize it as fake, most of the time.

    My father lived this way for as long as I knew him. (Some of y'all guessed at this already, no doubt. I'm fine - it sucked and I'm OK.)

    2 - Narcissism, DSM defined, not the pop-culture meaning, can be described as a kind of absence of boundaries. The Narcissist kind of can't tell what's outside their head vs. inside, what's real vs. what they want. More precisely they can't be bothered to tell. Even more precisely, they're compelled to *not* tell so their (interior) world can be a way that they can stand.

    So, the *boundary* between the real world and their preferences doesn't exist. That gets really interesting when they are parents, wanting particular things of their kids, not as their own little people but as extensions of the grand role the Narcissist is playing.

    It's hard to talk about because the language is built for people who make these distinctions. Narcissist folks want particular things of their kids, but not in the way those words mean to us. They *can't tell* that their kids are separate. No boundaries. They have a hard time with this condition in the DSM, and talk mostly about behaviors and impulses. There's a structure there that the don't quite get, in my amateur opinion.

    Children of Narcissists have a hard time, often ending up with Narcissistic responses themselves, or broken like the earlier type. This is a lot of what Miller's work is about - the "drama" in The Drama of the Gifted Child is about working through this situation as one develops. It's a gift after you get past it, assuming you aren't broken along the way.

    3 - Anti-social personalties (sociopaths, although they mess with those categories all the time, too.) are glib, constant liars and good at it. Most of the "tells" around lying come from empathy with the person being lied to. Being empathy-free, no tells for the sociopaths.

    With sociopaths lying is a conscious, deliberate strategy that they're aware of. Narcissists, that "strategy" is unconscious, buried deeper in the emotional soup. Sociopaths lying is shallowly instrumental, characterized by disregard for the consequences, especially in others' feelings. Narcissistic lying is deeply compelled, informed by their damaged empathy, often to elicit particular feelings in themselves and others - it's all about the consequences, just not in a good way.

    4 - You can't get to habitual, profound lying without confronting evil. Merlin was right - "When a man lies he murders some part of the world."

    The books I named earlier were mostly around the first two models of perpetual lying.

    The Sociopath Next Door is a popularization of a PhD psychologist's work on this topic. (I'm a fan of people who publish along a spectrum of accessibility. Ryan and Deci did this about intrinsic motivation, for example.)

    The People of the Lie is M. Scott Peck's take on where evil comes from and how it operates. He operates from a believing Christian frame of reference, but separates out that part of his thesis. You don't have to believe in devils to find some insights on how personal human evil works. He says where there's evil, there's always a lie, thus his title.

  • Viking

    Thanks for that, BierceAmbrose. It is a lot to chew on. My guess is that she is 1 or 2 on your list, or a bit of both. I don't see her as lacking empathy, although that may be because it is too terrifying to think she could be sociopath. I might grab a copy of The Sociopath Next Door just to be sure.
    I can see her having a bizarre perception of her daughter, so I'm kind of leaning towards narcicism. It is all very confusing.

    I'm sorry to hear that a contributor to the site was so twisted and screwed with so many peoples emotions. Sounds like she needs some serious therapy. I don't post all that often, I'm more of a casual reader of the reviews, so I had NO idea anything so bizarre was going on.

  • BierceAmbrose

    This is deep stuff, Viking. It takes me a lot of words in part because *I'm* still finding my way around & I've been living this stuff for most of a lifetime.

    It is all very confusing

    That's one of Peck's "tells" that there's evil around somewhere. Evil lies to create confusion, leading to loss of confidence.

    The most powerful thing in dealing with any of this stuff is recognizing that something ain't right. You've already done that.

  • Viking

    I truly appreciate what you've posted and I've read it a few times, thinking it over. I don't believe in 'Evil', not as an entity or property that exists outside of basic human nature. Evil is selfishness, manipulation, hurting others to get what you want or think you need or deserve. Sociopaths are evil in that they have some kind of disease / damage/ genetic deformation that makes them unable to feel emotion and therefore can not fathom obeying the rules of society. To them it is dumb and the rest of us are suckers for towing the line by not screwing each other over at all times. Is M. Scott Peck writing about compulsive liars?or all people or socoipaths in particular?
    I've long suspected that all the time I spent with my big sister f'd me up a bit. I was typing out an example here, which turned into many more, then it was just a therapy session for me, which is not what this thread is about. So, I deleted it. But I'm so glad I read the article and the comments because this has made me do some thinking and some'research'(Googling the books you mentioned and the topics of compulsive lying and narcissim) and there is a dim light bulb sputtering to life over my head right now. Alot of shit is clicking into place. I can totally see my sister pulling a Catfish trick online. I have no knowledge of any such thing going on, partly because I have cut all communication with her, but I would not be one bit surprised if I were to find out she had.
    In contrast to Tyburn Blossom I did not start telling lies of my own but did the opposite and to this day I get really angry when I discover I've been lied to. I hold myself and other people to a high standard of truth telling. I can not seem to edit myself to lie by omission. Even when I am consciously telling myself to shut the hell up and I know that sharing information with someone would A) not hurt them not to know but B) will hurt me if they know it. The guilt of it eats at me. I'm not saying I'm 100% honest at all times, but I'm so conscious of the consequences of lying that I don't do it often. I don't lie like a normal, healthy person is supposed to, I suspect. But I am FILLED with self doubt: "Evil lies to create confusion, leading to loss of confidence." That is no joke.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Sorry I didn't see this until now, Viking. I hope this gets to you.

    You are welcome, of course.

    Is M. Scott Peck writing about compulsive
    liars?or all people or socoipaths in particular?

    "All people." He proposes that compulsive lying might be a symptom, and sociopaths a subset of "evil."

    Peck's book, "People of the Lie" is his working through of the question you answer differently: "Is there evil as an actual thing?" Peck concludes - at odds with the DSM & his profession - that "Evil" is a useful diagnostic code, regardless of your theology. He hangs the idea of Evil on a commandment found in all the great religions in some form: "Thou shalt not disfigure the human soul."

    Some people just can't stand that anyone else be happy, whole or intact - they seem to feed on the damage. Some people seem to need to oppose and impede other people elaborating what they might become. Some people seem to stand athwart human development & progress regardless of the payoff to themselves. Thus, the damage itself must be the payoff. Thus, "evil", the ongoing conscious choice to disfigure the human soul.

    That phrasing of this commandment is from The Orange Catholic Bible, a book in the Dune series universe that's quoted & referenced a lot. The commandment not to disfigure the human soul is so fundamental it's in fiction.

    I've long suspected that all the time I spent with my big sister f'd me up a bit.

    Here's a reframe to try. You adapted to the situation you were in - your sister's behavior. The skills and capacities that helped you in that situation, and ones like it, may not be useful other times. So, look for the abilities your grew, so you can appreciate them. Then, choose *when* to use them.

    It's kind of like if you learned to see green in a world of the color blind, as a means of dealing with your green-colored sister. What's going on in a green filter is good information. Sometimes, you'll respond in ways that seem odd to folks who can't see green. If you only respond to the stuff in your world that is green, well, you're missing a lot.

    ... and there is a dim light bulb sputtering to life over my head right now. Alot of shit is clicking into place.

    People adapt to their situation, and learn from what other people *model*, without knowing they're doing it. It's possible you developed and picked up all kinds of behaviors & understandings without them going through the talk-y front part of your brain. When you know about them, the things you learned can be powerful tools. When they run your life without your knowing ... not so much.

    In contrast to Tyburn Blossom I did not start telling lies of my own but did the opposite and to this day I get really angry when I discover I've been lied to.

    Have you noticed how the things that gets me sputteringly angry hereabouts are misdirection and sloppy thinking? Almost exclusively around politics which is, along with its other qualities, the exercise of power over others.

    You're not the only one who learned some odd skills. On the up side, it's nice to have a high-power BS detector, isn't it?

    But I am FILLED with self doubt: "Evil lies to create confusion, leading to loss of confidence." That is no joke.

    In Peck's model of "evil", lies work to keep other people from being whole, healthy and effective. In a religious frame of reference it's not a long trip from there to being "evil as in against god" as what this kind of lie but a way to mar god's creation.(*)

    The most powerful councilors I've seen for folks who have "muscle-bound coping mechanisms" work in the Satir system.

    (*) I'm not religious. I have profound respect for institutions & teachings that wrestle with the big questions & support leading a moral life.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Hold on. It sucks and you'll be OK, mostly because you choose to be OK.

    Have you read The Drama of the Gifted Child, or any other of Alice Miller's work? Recommended.

    You've inspired a more general post. So, if it sucks, it's your fault.

  • Tyburn Blossom

    I have not. A quick search on Amazon to add it to my wishlist shows that I might be a while adding her work and picking where to start, though since you specifically recommended The Drama of the Gifted Child, that seems like the best place to start.

    I'm going to go on faith and assume it'll be a great post. If it's my fault if it sucks, do I also get any credit if it's awesome?

  • BierceAmbrose

    Sure. I am but a vessel, spreading the pollen of the Blossom to an eager world. Or something.

    I think I achieved "adequate" with that post, which makes you a lesser god. (Don't you just hate being responsible for your minions' work?)

  • I think about where I got my name and what it originally meant and that makes me both cringe and cackle.

    Oh, responsibility. No matter how hard I try to avoid it, it just comes and finds me.

  • BierceAmbrose

    ... and that makes me both cringe and cackle.

    I love it when a plan comes together.

  • Because I really need to remember that people don't automatically know waht I'm talking about all the time, here is a definition, courtesy of the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (a dictionary of buckish slang, university wit, and pickpocket eloquence...available for free at the Gutenberg Project and all awesome):
    "Tyburn Blossom: A young thief or pickpocket, who in time will ripen into fruit borne by the deadly never-green."
    When I stumbled across it while making an ill-advised attempt to write a first-person novel in Victorian thieves' cant, I fell in love with it and took it for my own.

  • BierceAmbrose

    What a great story.

    I *have* that dictionary via Gutenberg. For a while I was on a kick collecting pidgins, creoles and out-group trade-languages. There's a similar dictionary of grifter slang running around somewhere, and I had a couple lexicons of hobo slang.

    Massively disappointed that I didn't recognize your handle right off. The little gray cells, they weaken over time.

  • I am so deeply in love with that dictionary if only for a set of three definitions: a hen or other fowl is a 'cackling cheat.' A henhouse is a 'cackling ken.' So what's an egg? A 'cackling fart.'
    I love the assorted cants, pidgins, creoles, etc. in the world. What especially fascinates me are the slang terms that make you go, 'Wha? That happened enough they needed a word for it?' Case in point: to be 'docked smack smooth' means to have your penis amputated due to VD. That seriously happened so often there was slang for it.
    There's way too much out there to remember all of it, though, so I wouldn't be disappointed over missing...well, any of them. I'm not so sure the little gray cells weaken so much as they're gradually overloaded.
    Reading Treasure Island after being introduced to the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue was a whole new experience, too.

  • BierceAmbrose

    You'll probably like They Have a Word For It compiled by Howard Rheingold. He's another one to just follow whatever he does, because it'll be interesting.

  • Would you believe I totally have that book sitting on my shelf right now? And it's awesome.

  • ScienceGeek

    Man... I'm sorry for everything you've gone through with your mother. I admire your self-awareness, and I hope it all improves for you.

  • Tyburn Blossom

    I'm not living with her anymore (two years with my very own house!), and that's been huge. I've only recently realized that I've socially isolated myself for fear of turning into her. Obviously that's not the answer. Things are getting better.

  • BierceAmbrose

    See my reply to Tyburon & a thread starter post to follow.

  • Pinky McLadybits

    I saw your handle and thought, "EEEEE! I haven't seen a comment from them in FOREVER!" For reals.

  • Melody

    I did too!

  • Tyburn Blossom

    Aww...that makes my night!

  • zeke_the_pig

    I, however, most definitely AM a pig.
    But me name's not zeke.

  • Slash

    I feel two contradictory ways about people who invent elaborate online personas. One the one hand, I kind of (kind of) admire their persistence. Takes work (kind of) to do that. On the other hand, what kind of pathetic asshole makes the time to do shit like that? I mean, absent a profit motive? Maybe it's always a profit motive, some are just more successful than others. Whatever. I wasn't aware of any of this shit until this post, and I'm fine with that.

    People lie their asses off, y'all. And people you "know" online are not really friends. Sorry if this is news to some of you. Friends are people you've met face-to-face and hung out with. Internet people are acquaintances at best.

  • ,

    The "profit motive" doesn't have to include money. There can be some other kind of payoff.

    I'm thinking that someone who can fake an online personality for so long and so successfully ought to consider writing fiction as a career. Maybe that's how some novelists get started, by constructing good alternative personae and then lying like hell, only doing it with a narrative structure and a thought-out plot.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Odd story. The things you miss when you aren't active on Farcebook...

  • Guest

    Well, I've only ever met one Pajiban in person who can vouch for me, and he's no longer much around these parts, but he's a Big Enchilada: one-time reviewer John Williams.

    So there.

    /name 100% fake
    //person 100% real

  • ,

    You mean your name here isn't your real name? And I've spent all this time trying to figure out how "Ranylt" is pronounced (why? I dunno, like we were ever going to meet and I'd want to say, "Nice to meet you, (pronounces name phonetically),"?

    There's 20 hours I'll never get back ...

  • Guest

    I crunch in your head!

  • Resa Anderson

    Popejenn is gonna be SO mad when she sees this!

  • Guest

    OMFG. This is what no sleep in four days has wrought. TWO! I have met TWO real-life Pajibans who can vouch for me.

    Now I owe Shoes a paw-rub.

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    Ranylt, you have sent me to my bed crying over you for the last time! We are now broken up. <3

  • Guest

    I am prostrate with remorse. Prostate, and not the male kind of prostrate, here, either. The utterly submissive kind! I know Jenn my fellow insomniac will understand. It was the ragweed we talked about just yesterday.

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    I forgive you - ragweed and insomnia are a vicious mix!

  • Guest

    They are befuggling me.

  • gp

    wow. THIS was so messed up.


  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    Because you love me. It's ok to admit it. So many have before. You are not the first to fall prey to my heartbreaker ways.

  • Schultheiss

    I've been a daily Pajiba reader since I was sixteen and never considered commenting until I read the comments on this article. I had no idea there was such a genuine, caring community hiding beneath the red-circle "90% of Viewers Missed This!!!" ads.

  • BierceAmbrose

    These folks are a big bag of marshmallows. A cynic is just a disappointed idealist. They rail at the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men because things could be better.

    They(we)'re more hurt than angry. Godtopus help any who attempt to poison and destroy the brothers & sisters hereabouts. There wouldn't even be pieces left to pick up. There is nothing as dangerous as aroused, intelligent anger with a real grievance.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Welcome, then. Just out of curiosity: you didn't choose your handle because of a certain beer brand?

  • Schultheiss

    I didn't realize there was a beer - I'll have to check that out. It's just the original German form of my last name, an old-fashioned word for mayor. Should be spelled "Schulthei├č" but you never know how those symbols are going to turn up in a browser.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    That character turns up as it should (probably due to the language settings on my machine ;) ).

    I know where the word comes from. It's just also a beer brand from my home town. Decent when coming right from the tap, crap from every other source.

  • Lauren_Lauren

    *deep breath*

    I've worked on two Uwe Boll movies.

    I only ask that you end me quickly, with a minimal amount of pain. Send someone quiet and skilled, so I don't know it's coming.

    I'm so sorry.

  • Pinky McLadybits

    I guess we could send admin. The last thing you'll see is the shimmer of his manly bosom.

  • Lauren_Lauren

    I said send someone quiet. ;)

  • Green Lantern

    Oh and not to add to more confusion, but THIS woman was an online friend of mine for YEARS...

    I haven't heard from her since after I got married, and now I know why she rubbed Mrs. Lantern the wrong way.

  • no one

    Now I am curious. What happens when you rub the latern the wrong way?

  • NotTheOne

    I am not real. And I do not want anyone to think I am. If anyone asks,I was never here

  • no one

    I don't know. Maybe the person you meet online is the real person, at least as they see themselves, and who we meet in person is the fake they are force to wear.

  • Tinkerville

    I've been an avid Pajba reader since the Homeland Security days but only started commenting very recently. Lurkers. We're really shy and stuff and ya'll are just so witty.

    In any case, I remember the conwoman in question very well and always thought her comments were incredibly funny. Even though I wasn't a friend of hers outside of Pajiba and never heard the sob stories, for those of us who weren't involved in the real world Pajiba community it still seems like a strange betrayal of sorts, especially after finding out she hurt Alabama's son's college fund.

  • BierceAmbrose

    ...and ya'll are just so witty.

    Actually, we're not. You only think we are.

  • TheAggroCraig


    There's a Pajiba community outside of the comments sections? I honestly had no idea.

  • BierceAmbrose

    No. They're all poseurs. We here with the fake name handles are the real ones.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    No joke. Maybe there should be meet ups in different cities. Come As You Are/Your Avatar.

  • Kolby

    There ARE meetups in different cities. Really.

  • MikeRoorda

    Is there, like, an email list I need to be on or something? I've been practicing the secret handshake with my dog for at least a week now, but he keeps screwing up the part in the middle where you link thumbs because he doesn't have thumbs. If you guys let me come I'll totally bring chili. And cornbread. Gluten free cornbread though because my body sucks and can't have nice things.

  • Maguita NYC

    Pajiba and should tour together.

  • TheAggroCraig

    Any excuse to dress up as Sho'Nuff.

  • ScienceGeek

    My best friend is dating a woman who spent the first eight months of their relationship telling us that she'd given birth at thirteen, and the little boy, Ceder, had died, cot-death style two years later. Her mother is a drug dealer and a muderer. She's been in witness protection. Her co-worker tried to kill her.

    You want to know what's embarrassing? I believed her, at least for a couple of months. In my defense, who in the FUCK lies about a dead kid? I started getting suspicious, but then I felt guilty, because who in the fuck doesn't believe someone when they're talking about their dead kid? (Okay, people who are listening to their instincts scream, but honestly, I felt like the biggest piece of shit for even considering it).
    Want to know the saddest part? He's still with her. Last time we saw them, not only was she still lying her face off, but now he was joining in. Sitting there, nodding along while she's telling us that HIS grandmother is going to need keyhole surgery and they'll need to come up with $50,000 to pay for it. Except the reason I've known this guy so long is because our mothers were friends, so as soon as I told my mum, she called his to offer support, and what do you know? That shit's been covered all along. Oh, and the operation wasn't being held on my birthday, like he/she claimed as their excuse for not attending. (Seriously, bitch, just admit you're not coming because you've lied to everybody there. Or tried to chat them up when my best friend wasn't looking).
    His last girlfriend and I were great friends. 'We're engaged! Would you be my bridesmaid?' friends. But when they broke up, she wanted me to lie for her, to him. I couldn't do it, and I lost her friendship.
    Yes, I know, anyone who'd do that to me isn't my friend. But then again, neither is he, really, is he?
    I'm still bitter. This man has been my brother. We've known each other since we were five, and that kind of history.... he's the only person aside from my husband that I could always be honest with.
    Well, I thought that. It fucking kills me that I was wrong.

  • ScienceGeek

    Gah. I'm sorry guys, this is about your betrayal, not mine. It just set me off, sorry.
    I'll start again, and say what I should have said instead of the one-way visit to self-absorbtion town:
    I'm sorry you got lied to. I think it's an addiction for some people, and they're decent people underneath. But all the time you were caring for the person, they were treating you like a tool to feed their high, and that's a very hard thing to get past.
    I think it's also one of the hardest addictions to get over, too. Because there's no physical repercusions, and you don't have to track down a dealer or go to a shop to get your high, you just open your mouth and blurt out some words (or, you know, write them). But it'll fuck you up just as badly as booze or drugs.

  • Ted Zancha

    Well crap, I think I may have only met one Pajiban (and she is the one who introduced me to the site years ago). Where the hell are all of you people hiding and why was I not invited to any of these meetings?

  • L.O.V.E.

    Fake girlfriend in a fake coma. I know, I know, I'm not really serious.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    Every once in a while, a story like this pops up. The internet is not immune to con wo/men.

  • Slash

    Facebook friends aren't real friends? Get the fuck outta here.

  • Sarcasm font?

  • Miley's Virus

    I'm not actually a virus. I do not live in Miley Cyrus' cooch. I cannot produce millions of exact replicas of myself per minute. I do not (usually) cause an itchy, lumpy rash. I cannot be transmitted via saliva or through sexual intercourse. Penecillin does me no harm. I have never been featured in an upskirt photo.

  • BierceAmbrose

    I cannot produce millions of exact replicas of myself per minute.

    Well, color me disappointed.

    I have never been featured in an upskirt photo.

    About this, too.

  • I think I know who this person is, though I didn't "know" her well. I think I have just met two Pajibans, but they came to my house and everything so they can attest that I am at least somewhat real, as are the other people in my family that I talk about on Facebook. Whew, I am not wholly imaginary.

  • lowercase_ryan

    If I was fake I'd be getting laid.

  • emmelemm

    I know right... if I was creating a fake personality, it'd be a hell of a lot cooler than this...

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