In this so-called “post-modern” world one of the big buzz words repeated again and again is authenticity.
Post-moderns want to be authentic and call for those around them to be authentic as well.
If you are foggy about the exact definitions of these terms, let me refresh your memory.
authentic: adjective — not false or copied; genuine; real.
authenticity: noun — the quality of being authentic; to have totally undisputed credibility.
The problem that I see with the overuse of these buzz words is a blatant temptation to be hypocritical. We have a generation that is calling for authenticity in a world that is beset with opportunity for all-out fakery.
In this 21st century social milieu—in a world increasingly defined by the internet and the possibility of faceless, voiceless communication; authenticity is vanishing. Social networking sites such as: Facebook, My Space and Twitter and information brokering systems like blogs deliver the temptation to be anything but authentic. Occasions to be fake, fraudulent and a counterfeit are offered in a plethora of ways everywhere online.
The young country music artist Brad Paisley expertly summed up the reality of blog deception in a song he entitled “Online”. In the tune he tells the story of a “mama’s boy” turned “poser” online.
I work down at the Pizza Pit
And I drive an old Hyundai
I still live with my mom and dad
I’m 5 foot 3 and overweight
I’m a scifi fanatic
A mild asthmatic
And I’ve never been to second base
But there’s whole ‘nother me
That you need to see
Go checkout MySpace
‘Cause online I’m out in Hollywood
I’m 6 foot 5 and I look damn good
I drive a Maserati
I’m a black-belt in karate
And I love a good glass of wine
It turns girls on that I’m mysterious
I tell them I don’t want nothing serious
‘Cause even on a slow day
I could have a three way
Chat with two women at one time
I’m so much cooler online
So much cooler online
We may think such unashamed hypocrisy is rare but the news in the blog world reveals the opposite– in actuality–blog fraud is rampant. Online “posing” is on the rise and it is not always as harmless as it seems. Recently, the U.S. chapter of the IT Service Management Forum filed a defamation lawsuit against its former executive director, alleging that he tried to discredit the group via blog comments posted under a fictitious female name. It is the first such case to get to court but if the man accused loses he will pay “big” money in damages.
In another example of blog fraud, the online community had been wondering for a long time about the “real” identity of the anonymous blog author of “OffAgain-OnAgain Boy”. The web-log which featured a graphic exposé of the life of an IT support manager was attracting a hefty readership and many questions. As a result a newspaper investigation was launched to solve the mystery surrounding the anonymous blogger’s identity and they hit pay dirt. The paper soon revealed that that the writer did not actually work in the IT industry at all but was in fact a £3,000 per night prostitute. Online reports revealed that “the stories of late night sessions spent identifying the cause of widespread spreadsheet corruption, and the details of three hour meetings debating the merits of Windows upgrades were pure fantasy.”
Recently in an example closer to home, on a blog authored by a Christian skeptic named Daniel Florien another case of blog fraud was exposed. Florien revealed in a post called “Pastor caught lying for Jesus” that a Christian minister was in fact on his blog fraudulently posing as an atheist. The lying pastor falsified comments in which he attempted to make a supposed atheist contributor look like a total immoral idiot.
He wrote, “What’s wrong with killing babies? I see no problem with it. I have enough mouths to feed. I don’t get the argument and I am an atheist. Since I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in anything characterized as good, bad / right, wrong. So, what’s the big deal?”
At first Florien reported that he was shocked that anyone could say things like that and then he realized that he was dealing with a “fundie” in disguise, a sheep in wolves clothing. He had done some digging and realized that the deceiver was using a variety of names on his blog.
Florien states, “In a few hours, he (the poser) went from apologizing for our past dealings with slimy lying Christians, to suggesting it’s okay to abuse women, kill neighbors, and slaughter children under the guise of atheism. So I banned him. I found what he did to be disgusting. It would be like me pretending to me multiple Christians on a Christian blog, asserting there’s nothing wrong with raping women and killing children because God commands it in the Bible.”
I probably would not agree with Florien on many subjects but on this one we are in accord—I cannot tolerate liars. It is disgusting when people practice this kind of lack of character and authenticity. Such posers are guilty of fraud and it is particularly repulsive when this kind of activity comes from a Christian minister.
In my opinion it is one thing to use a moniker or hide behind an avatar but it is another to falsify comments, pose as someone you are not, or dream up blog content. I like blogging and interacting anonymously on line as much as the next person but at times there is obviously a fine line between “blog fun and games” and lying. We must remind ourselves as we are tempted by blog fraud –the ninth commandment still unequivocally states–“thou shalt not lie.”
In conclusion, I believe if we in this post modern world are going to preach about the necessity of being “authentic” we better practice “authenticity.” And for those of us who are Christians if we are true adherents to our faith we should obviously practice what we preach as well.
We, who so vehemently stand for advancing the Truth, should (duh) tell the truth. We need to be as aware of lying on line as we would be if we were doing it face to face. As we conduct our online relationships and become citizens of the worldwide internet community let’s strive to raise the moral bar rather than trampling all over it. Let’s hold one another accountable to a standard of truthfulness and spread the word –“thou shalt not commit blog fraud.”