My last post got me thinking about trust. Generally, except for the very cynical among us, we assume that people are who they say they are, even on the internet. I don't mean 'Hotlips27' or variations thereof, who seem to spend their time spreading vitriol and bile on random internet forums, but people like you and me, people with blogs, who are part of a community.
You know I'm a middle-aged Mother of two, with two daughters. You know my name and what I look like. Or do you? Well, yes actually, because I'm not a liar. There are things you don't know about me and that's fine, but I don't make up other things to take their place. To twist something I wrote in this post, everything you read about me is true, but you can't read everything true about me.
Suppose though, that I was actually a seventeen year old boy? Would you still take the same meaning from the words I've written? Of course you wouldn't because you wouldn't know which were true and which were lies. It's easy to tell you to focus on the words and not the writer but I truly believe the two are linked. I know Talli Roland is a sassy blonde author because that's what her picture, and her words, tell me. If she was really a fifty year old bloke I'd feel cheated. There's nothing wrong with fifty year old blokes. I read blogs written by men, I'm sure some of them are somewhere near that age, but none of them are pretending to be a cute blonde female. (Sorry Talli, you happened to be the first name I thought of, I hope you don't mind).
My default setting is basically optimistic. I will always believe people are good and honest until they prove otherwise. (Sometimes they get several goes at proving it, too). I believe all the blogs I read are by people who are who they say they are. If I found out differently, I suspect that any pleasure I'd gained from their writing would be lost, and yes, in some small way, I'd feel betrayed. If people want to be anonymous, awesome, go for it; If they want to give themselves a different name then that's great too, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about people who tell lies – not comedic exaggeration, not faulty memory, but lies. It's one of the reasons I get upset when I find out memoirs are not true. I won't rehash old stories but there's a huge difference between 'I may not remember the exact order of events, who said what or even who was there', and 'this is completely untrue, it never happened, but it will spice my story up'. There's a word for those stories, they're called fiction.
I'm not sure if I've explained this as well as I might, and maybe I'm over-sensitive in this day and age, but If we don't trust the writer, how can we trust the words?
For the record, I believe in every single person whose blog I read, otherwise I wouldn't be reading their blog :)