I believe all humans were created with a reasonable sense of integrity.
We are on this earth to do good, right?
But along the way, we were misguided. Our egos got the better of us and we lost our way.
The real life that we lead can be easily masked, however. We have the haven of online to safeguard who we really are.
Integrity and Fakery: Are Some People Invincible?
I’ve witnessed this on more than one occasion. In my specific circumstance, I have followed people online who seemed reputable, who had the perception of being the epitome of integrity.
I felt honored to be in the company of such people, who have built a loyal following because of their magnetic words of wisdom, how inspirational they are, as well as through the hypnotic, emotion laden stories they share.
I, too, have been taken in by these masters.
One person in particular, in my eyes, could do no wrong. When we connected, I felt lucky she made the time to talk. She had been on a pedestal in my mind for many years, as well as in the minds of her many loyal followers. This gal had integrity!
But the community wasn’t privy to the relationship that I was building with this amazing person. No, this wasn’t a Jim Jones cult (although it does eerily feel like I was programmed).
I brought this person into my life and we became fast friends. It took some time, but I started really figuring out this individual. The persona that had been so carefully crafted was slowly crumbling before my eyes. She didn’t reveal herself readily, but nuances of the real person came out.
The person who she claimed to be–the persona the world knew– wasn’t the person who sat before me. She was a sham. She was a hypocrite. And I had been fooled. Shame on me.
Reputation is Absolutely Everything
We carefully shape the way we want to be perceived. There are those among us who are calculated in the way they approach situations and people, always mindful of how others will react, and how they will be judged.
When I met people who know (knew) of my affiliation, they couldn’t believe how “lucky” I was to be in the company of such a great individual. How little they know. And how desperately I wanted to shout, “You have no idea!”
In real life, we falter. My mother says all she has to do is look into my eyes to see the window to my soul, and when she does, I know I’ve been found out. I can’t hide the truth. My actions speak louder than words.
Online, Somehow, Seems So Much Safer
For those who have built their reputation online and have carefully honed it to perfection, the online space is a safe haven. The words on their blogs hide their true selves.
Words can easily manipulate and influence the human spirit. We cannot see the eyes of deceit as these words are carefully crafted on the keyboard.
And so we continue to believe the lie.
However, this “keyboard” that unites individuals across the social space cannot – and will not – ever be substituted for face-to-face contact.
I’ve come to believe that.
Hypocrisy is Perpetuated by the Community
When I opened my eyes to the truth, it didn’t seem real that I, alone, could have discovered this false integrity.
The reality is, there are so many instances of people portraying false personas of themselves.
They continue to walk among us. We can easily point them out. But we don’t. I wonder why.
And there are many naive individuals who buy into these falsehoods.
They follow in droves and they are the very ones to come to the defense of these manipulators again and again – because they’ve been programmed.
Perhaps Online is the ONLY Place to Hide
I’ve come to believe that those who exist mainly online, are there for a reason.
The fairy tale they’ve built around them is enough to properly shield them from the reality of who they actually are.
If there is disparity between who you are online and offline then there is something very wrong.
As much as I believe in transparency, I also believe we do not have to fully disclose every part of our being to the world.
But, at the very least, have some integrity. Be true to who you really are.
I’ve become more pragmatic these days. I live online but I also have a balanced and healthy life outside of the Internet.
It’s what keeps me real and keeps me grounded.
These days, I’m not as easily fooled by gurus and online pundits. Because sadly, I’ve learned the hard way to be more judgmental of my online relationships.
I’ve come to believe in the value of meeting people in person. And the value of a gut check. It tends to go a long way towards revealing the truth.