Hi all. I hope you all are having a nice summer. It’s a weird one where we live, weather
wise. One day it’s pushing 100 degrees
and the next I need to put on a jacket when walking the dogs. Though here in our area, where vaccination rates are fairly high and life has gotten somewhat back to normal, things have improved over this time last year.
I guess I should just be happy not to be in Seattle or Portland. My sympathies to any of our community who live in the Pacific Northwest and have been suffering through this week without air conditioning. Unlike some of our fellow citizens, they didn’t even inflict it on themselves:
On the Domestic Discipline front, there have been a few developments. Nothing earth shattering, but probably worth exploring in more fulsome post, which I’m not inspired enough to write on this Tuesday afternoon. But, I did want to check in, and the situation with “Belle” has inspired enough comments that I thought maybe it was worth posting about.
First, a little more background, though nothing very illuminating. On the same day that “Belle” apparently accidentally outed herself as a fake, I got an email from an address indicating the sender was someone named Alex, though in the body of the email he identified himself as Anton “an infrequent commenter and longtime lurker” on this blog. I do recall some comments from someone identified as Anton, but nothing in particular, and if there is a way to search Blogger for comments from specific senders, I don’t know how to do it. He asked me to post a link to his new blog in my blogroll. I did and wished him well with his new blog. (As an aside, the captioning haters must REALLY hate his new blog, because it not only is all captioned pictures but consists entirely of captioned pictures he has taken from other blogs and tumblrs and then slightly changed the dimensions.) It was not until the next day that I saw the “Belle” commented posted from the ScoldedHubby profile. It looks like the comment actually preceded his email to me by a few hours, but I had not been checking the blog regularly while I was taking my little break, so I didn’t catch it until the day after Tomy posted the first comment asking, more or less, "WTF?" I waited a day to see whether “Belle” would respond or take down the comment, then sent an email to Alex/Anton asking for an explanation. My “WTF?” was met with the same silence as Tomy's.
Reactions from our commenters have varied, and morphed a little, over the last few days. Tomy’s initial reaction was: “Oh no! Our trust is violated and it makes me feel like a real fool for allowing myself to believe those compassionate-sounding words. I feel like my confidence in reaching out and making new connections is set back.”
Courandir responded: “Please Tomy, don't feel ashamed or even betrayed by this fake person because his life is wide. I found the DWC in 2000 and learned important things about myself with Real people, and you were part of it! Thank you!”
Alan observed: “One must wonder what his point was. Kicks and giggles I suppose. But what a lot of work just to produce a tacky charade. Call me naive but I still believe the vast number of contributors to this blog are authentic.”
Brett seemed less convinced that authenticity is the rule and not the exception: “I don't know what's going on here, but I suspect that, with anything sexual in nature, men posing as women online is common.”
ZM noted: “Anyway, this is the ever-present danger of these online forums. As far as I know (unless we have some seriously good hackers here!) only Dan knows who I am in real life, and I only know who Dan really is as well as of course KD, who is out there for the whole world to see! I don't think we should be disillusioned by the occasional poster who pretends to be someone they are not. It is common everywhere else in the online world, and so it will sometimes happen here as well.”
My own reaction was, at first at least, fairly blasé. This certainly isn’t the first time that someone has slipped up here and accidentally revealed something about their assumed identity that wasn’t quite what they purported it to be. A year or two ago we had the multiple variations of “Helen” and her husband, who may or may not have even been two people and who kept flaming out and then reappearing again and again in different guises. There also have been multiple times that “real” commenters have slipped up and accidentally posted from their “real” identity’s email account or accidentally used their real name in “signing” their comment. (I've done the latter myself a time or two.) Whenever I’ve caught that, I’ve scrambled to take it down for them without waiting for them to request it. Though, those instances of inadvertent identification are hardly the same thing as intentionally misleading people, are they? As ZM indicates, KD is out there for the world to see, but he is the exception. Most of us are participating with constructed identities designed to protect our anonymity to one degree or another, and that’s fine.
But, it definitely feels
different when we learn that someone was not just hiding their identity but
actively lying about themselves and their their DD dynamic.
It’s not just covering up something.
It’s wasting people’s time and engaging in the conversation in bad
faith. I don’t go quite as far as Tomy’s
initial reaction of feeling betrayed, but it is annoying to me precisely when
it comes from people I found myself kind of gravitating to on the
blog. I liked engaging with Belle and was
glad when she showed up and started adding more “female” perspective to the
blog. Similarly, some of the longer-term
commenters may remember Peter and Anna who, near the end of their tenure as
commenters, also slipped with a post that indicated to me they were pulling
something over on me. I had liked "them" a lot, and it was disappointing to discovery that a lot of what I saw as a relationshiphad been BS.
It’s hard not to get a little
riled up when you feel like you’ve been duped or had your time wasted. But, overall,
my reaction is somewhere between Alan and ZM’s.
I do think that most of our long-term commenters are more or less who
they are and in the dynamics they describe, but exceptions are going to reveal
themselves from time to time. It seems to me that assuming pretty much every “woman”
who shows up on the blog is a sham would be counterproductive to getting more
women to participate and I’m also, in the end, just not willing to lead my
life being skeptical of every new commenter just because a few will successfully dupe
me for a while. In the final analysis, I probably have less invested than the folks who hook up through on-line dating sites and discover their new companion bears little resemblance to the handsome professional from the Tinder profile.
And, really, what is the alternative? Tomy has noted to me that Aunt Kay solved the problem on the DWC by requiring live telephone calls with the wives who wanted to participate. I haven’t quite gotten to the point of being willing to reveal my own identity by having live conversations with everyone who wants to participate here, and it definitely would drive away some of our commenters who I do believe are real and whose participation I value. I also think that women might have been willing to talk to Aunt Kay live but likely would be more reticent about talking to me, a man. Most of us here seem to guard our confidentiality more or less tightly and, while at times I actually would prefer a much smaller but more openly participatory group, I think the current balance is about the best I can achieve right now given my own anonymity preferences. (However, it’s interesting how my “circle of trust” has expanded a bit as time has gone by. ZM notes that I’m the only one he has revealed his identity to. I think I am now up to five who know who I am or have had some direct contact that would allow them to easily figure it out. And, two out of the five are women and have morphed into genuine friendships over time.)
Anyway, while it has irked me a little, I’m not going to change my attitude or practice much as a result of Belle’s little deception and, in any event, I tend to believe what goes around comes around.
I hope the rest of your week is fun and relaxing. For those in the U.S., I hope you enjoy this Independence Day weekend and that is it is filled with many genuine interactions with family and friends.