Lies! On the internet?! Believe it or not, it happens. Come unburden yourself in Chatroom — make a burner account if need be.
Of course we’ve all probably stretched the truth online. We might post a blissful picture from a beach vacation that implies we’re having the time of our lives when the reality of the trip is stormy and strained. Or maybe we’re less than truthful to ourselves — demurring from topics and situations where we have an opinion but don’t want to be called out for it.
These human instincts to present in a certain light are different from, say, catfishing — the act of presenting as someone else entirely, whether out of boredom or romantic intent or because you’re running a scam — or the simple fact that some people just like to watch the internet burn. But living a lie online is different than trolling others for lulz. And inevitably, there will be situations where you just get caught up, and then it’s hard to untangle.
When I was in high school, I spent a great deal of my free time playing text-based games on Telnet. With the friends I made on these games, I certainly presented an idealised version of myself — the Kaila I wished I could be at 15. Then I got into a leadership position, and my new “colleagues” assumed that I was in college. I didn’t correct them. At first it was a lie by omission. But gradually it spun further and further from my control, as I made up a major, a roommate, a campus and activities in answer to friendly questions. It wasn’t a good feeling at all, and even many years later I can remember how much I disliked the falsehood. But I didn’t know how to backpedal, and I was afraid they might take my responsibilities away if they knew how young I was — and that I had lied. I stuck to it.
I wasn’t really hurting anyone, except my increasingly panicked self. But larger falsities have an insidious way of growing out of innocent, little-white-lie origins. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where a lie online became all too real?