A while back, I talked about your credibility as a blogger, and one of the ways you could hurt it.
I wrote a story about someone who lied and blogged about an email he had received – a lie easily discovered. I kind of half-heartedly called him out on it, and let him believe that I bought his shoddy cover story. I was already weary of this dude’s lies. Tired out. Exhausted. No longer giving a crap. This guy lied and lied and lied and lied so much that one day? When he admitted to me that he was a pathological liar? He told me he was in therapy for a liar and was on Step 9 of his recovery, making amends.
Dude LIED about LYING.
Like I said, I was over it. Done with it. But still, affected by it. Why? Because I’d watch him post story after made up story on his blog for his 3 or 4 readers. I knew they were made up, his readers didn’t. His [admittedly very few] readers read his stories and commented and interacted with him based on these stories.
Why would that bother me, you might think? You might use one of these two lines:
1. It’s not like it hurts anyone, or
2. It’s JUST the INTERNET.
First of all, if you believe, TRULY BELIEVE either of those two lines, then this post isn’t for you. These things don’t hurt you, and to you, it IS just the Internet. So for you people, here is a link to a video of Phil singing the Bender song.
For the rest of you, I continue.
Now, if you have known me for any length of time, you know that I have a habit of coming up with elaborate and outlandish theories and principles and manifestos (er, you’ve read the blog, right?) to explain and translate my general world. There’s the silly – like toothbrush theories; the kind of silly but actually extremely sound Tom Hanks Theory of Life (which anyone who has ever spent 5 minutes around me in person has been thoroughly schooled) and then the serious, like today’s.
Though this is lifted almost word for word from an email I wrote a few days ago (if you don’t have a squawky baby, you can ignore that part), I hesitated to post it today because to many, it will be very clear that this was inspired in no small part by Nicole at My Bottle’s Up, and she did post a new explanation tonight.
Obviously, there will likely be a lot more posts and Tweets on this topic in the coming days, as the explanation people were waiting for, or, more accurately, the APOLOGY people were waiting for, didn’t come. Instead, a not so subtle chiding – how dare we believe evidence. While I hesitate to be a bandwagoner, there probably will not ever (I hope) be a more appropriate time to talk about the very real cost of lying to your readers.
I hate lying in blogs. I HATE it.
I know it’s stupid, and I know we’re supposed to all be the bigger people, because “come on, you guys, just let it go. Who is it hurting?” but I HATE lying in blogs and I’m going to tell you WHY, because you have a baby and thus are my captive, because I do not speak in squawks and shrieks and demands, which is totally refreshing when you spend a lot of time around babies.
I hate lying in blogs – no matter how many people say to ignore it and that it’s not hurting anyone – because it is insulting and arrogant.
When you make up a story and post it in your blog, you are making one of two assumptions:
A) you are smarter than 100% of your readers and can pull off such a lie, and/or
B) you’re so popular and talented that your audience is completely moon-eyed and would either never call you out or is too nuts for you to realize you’re blowing smoke up their asses.
I do not LIKE to be insulted like that. I don’t like to see OTHERS insulted like that. Screw the whole “ugh, it’s just the internet” thing – these are real people making real connections and I don’t care if your lie is about how many people have seen your butt or if it’s as huge as calling out the TSA – when you are revealed as a liar on any scale, trust is broken.
Once you’re a liar, everything you’ve ever said is called into question or reviewed under the pall of your lies. The people who have trusted you ARE wounded and HAVE lost something, may have shared deep and personal things with someone they thought they could believe in, and, internet or not, that BLOWS.
The arrogance and insult to the intelligence of your readers – that’s not “nothing” either. It’s rude and it’s mean and it’s no boon to the community. The actions of one blogger DO reflect on other bloggers – tell me that mommy bloggers aren’t a liiiittle bit more of a joke after the mybottlesup thing.
Basically, what it comes down to is two points:
1. When you lie to your readers, whether it be small or epic, you’re not only telling your readers “I can lie right to your face and get away with it,” but also breaking very real trust.
2. If you are one of the types to drop either of the two lines above, about no one being hurt, or about the transgression not “counting” for as much because this is the Internet, you’re belittling the real feelings and friendships and relationships and partnerships and communities that have grown from so many blogs, as well as blinding yourself to the fact that when one blogger is revealed to be a liar, it reflects poorly on all bloggers. Including, likely, yourself.
Maybe I’ve been blogging too long. A lot of my posts recently seem to be hanging on nostalgia, for the way blogging “used” to be. Maybe I’m too attached to how it “used” to be and not at all in touch with how it now “is.”
Regardless, however, of the state of blogging or the Internet as a whole, lying is and long has been one of the most bold, disrespectful, hurtful and destructive acts any person can engage in. I don’t tolerate it in my real life relationships, so why do I need to look the other way here?