TJ wrote a really excellent post about lying on the internet. You should go read it (then come back, please!) I started to leave a comment and then realized that it would be as long as her post, so better served to put it here.
World of Warcraft is just a game, right? And not only is it just a game, but it’s just a game on the /internet/ right? It doesn’t matter what you tell people, it’s the internet, who cares!
Hopefully you guys all know better, but it doesn’t quite work like that.
It’s a game where you interact with /people/. And just like when you’re at the mall, or in the airport, or at a giant convention, you have no idea who you’ll meet and when.
“But Anna, some people on the internet are /bad/. I can’t tell them the truth!”
… well duh.
Obviously you wouldn’t tell some random stranger on the bus your full name, age, address, and phone number. In the same vein, you also don’t want to tell some stranger on the internet the same things. (And if someone you don’t know in either situation starts asking you really personal questions like that? Run away.)
Not telling someone something is /very/ different than lying to them.
Choose to say “I’d rather not share that” rather than making something up. Why? Because not disclosing something won’t come around to hurt you, but making something up can.
A little while ago there was a blogger who claimed he/she worked for Blizzard on one of the class development teams who then was revealed to have been a string of different people, none of whom ever worked for Blizzard (and none of whom were the woman in the pictures supposedly of the blogger – that had, in fact, been stolen).
An “innocent lie”, right? Obviously they were just trying to get credit for their articles about playing certain classes.
Except that when they were revealed to be a phony, a lot of their articles were called into question as well, even though they were quality writing and had nothing wrong with them.
As soon as you create a precedence for distrust, you lose trust about /everything/.
I choose what to reveal about myself based on what I’m comfortable having out on the Greater Internets At Large. You have no idea if I am who I say I am, other than that you trust me as a writer and blogger to not be a phony – and I take that trust very seriously.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you think the person you’re lying to can catch you. (Do you really think you’re smarter than everyone else you meet, especially on the internet where SO much can be tracked?) Eventually, lies about what you have and haven’t done, who you have and haven’t run with, instances you have and haven’t tanked/healed/dps’d, raids you have or haven’t been on will catch up to you – and when it does, you stand a good chance of losing any and all credibility you might’ve had.
You might be able to do a fine job in that group, but if you lied to them about having been in a guild, or having done it before, and they find out?
Chances are you’ll get booted from the group, or not invited back.
I’m sure most of us have heard of or known someone who lied about his or her age when they first met someone, trying to appear older (or younger) to seem more attractive, only to have relationship issues when they revealed that no, they had been lying.
The internet isn’t all that different.
Choosing what you tell or don’t tell people is wise. Protecting yourself in an open environment like the internet, where you never know who is watching? Smart move, and something I do all the time.
Just don’t attempt to “protect yourself” by lying about it, because when you do?
Everything else you’ve said will come into question, and that’s not a fun position to be in.
This post is partially spawned by a conversation I had with a young player in general chat, who wanted me to believe that he was 13, and that he could “prove” it with a MySpace page – but that he’d lied about his name and location because he “wasn’t that dumb”. My point that his admitting to lying about one thing calls into question anything else he said was, thankfully, well taken.
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