January 16, 2013
And to everyone who has “borrowed” from me in the past, or plans to in the future.
A blog is like a diary that is written for anyone to see. Many bloggers (parent bloggers, especially) blog as a release of sorts. A way to share what they’re going through and find other people who are going through the same things. We write because we love to write, and because people connect to it. Oftentimes, the people who read my blog tell me that I say the things that they have thought, but didn’t have the balls to say. Or they tell me that my brain works like theirs, and they just don’t know how to put it into words like I do. My writing in my blog and on my Facebook page, are little tidbits from my daily life, and odd little thoughts that go through my head. I share them because I enjoy it, and so do the people who read it.
What I write on this page, and my Facebook page, are mine. I have never used content someone else has written. I have never made up stories for entertainment value. I have never invented people or situations that don’t exist. I am straight up telling you MY story. In MY words. In MY own way. The fact that these stories are on the internet, and not in a book or a magazine, does not mean that they are free to take.
Sometimes another Facebook fan page will steal one of my statuses and claim it as their own. Sometimes another blogger will lift things from my blog and publish it as their own. I find both of these things strange, especially the stolen statuses, because they are long and ranty and so uniquely “me” that I often wonder how they expect it to blend it with their own, usual content. People who have these pages and do that kind of thing are obviously people who want attention and have nothing worthwhile to offer up in exchange for that attention, so they use someone else’s words. It sucks to have that happen, but unfortunately, you get used to it.
Tuesday I experienced something new. I came across a Facebook fan page that was made up almost entirely of MY content. It included Facebook statuses that I had written, as well as paragraphs taken from this blog. Months and months of my words. Seeing an entire page made up of content taken from me, as well as some taken from other bloggers that I personally know, was upsetting. I was fired up and ready to kick some ass. Then something else happened.
A reader of mine alerted me that she had found the personal Facebook profile of the woman who was behind this page, and told me that I should have a look at it. What I found on that page changed my anger into something closer to fear. It’s one thing when someone hiding behind a fan page is pretending to be someone they’re not. That happens every day. But when someone is doing the same thing on their personal profile, that is NOT normal, and it’s disturbing as hell.
This woman’s page was like any of our personal pages; It had her photos, her friends, her family members. But the similarities to anything normal stopped there. Much like her fan page, nearly every single post on her personal page was mine. My statuses as well as portions of my blogs, all written down verbatim. The only difference being when she needed to change a name or a location to one that would fit her reality. She was telling her friends and family about dreams that were MINE. She was telling them about something that had happened to ME at the grocery store. She was telling them about something that MY child had said. She was telling them some phone conversation that I had. She was telling them all of these things and inserting her own names in place of mine.
Friends and family members were commenting about how funny and creative she was. You should write a book! You are so entertaining! She would thank them and say things like that’s just how my brain works.
The thing is, it’s not. It’s not how your brain works. It’s how MY brain works. I have no freaking clue how YOUR brain works.
The feelings that I have about this are confusing, even to me.
On one hand I think, wow, you must be a sad individual without any sort of life, or anything worthwhile to say, who craves attention and has a strong need to be loved and admired. When I think of it like that, I feel sorry for you. I feel sorry for a person who doesn’t have enough confidence to think that anyone would like them for being themselves, and feels this so deeply that you must pretend to be someone else.
On the other hand, I think this is bullshit. Scary, disturbing, messed up, psychopathic, insane, bullshit. I’m talking “It’s puts the lotion on it’s skin”, Single White Female, The Talented Mr. Ripley level insanity. This hand is overpowering the other, more empathetic, hand.
Just because I share parts of my life on the internet, that in no way means that my life is up for grabs. This is MY life. These are MY thoughts and words. These are stories about ME, MY husband, and MY child. To take these things and claim them as your own, to the readers of a Facebook fan page that you don’t actually know, is dishonest and manipulative. But to essentially take my life and claim it as your own to the people who know you, and, I assume, love and care about you? That is a whole other level. You are lying to everyone around you. They have no idea that they are being tricked into believing that you are someone you’re not. Have you taken even one moment to think about how they would feel if they knew what you were doing? If they knew that everything out of your mouth was a lie? And not only a lie, but someone else’s truth that you decided to “borrow”? Do you ever think about how upset, confused, and hurt they might be? Do you care?
On the flip side of that, do you think about how upset, confused, and frightened that I am? I have absolutely zero idea what is going on in your head, but I’m guessing that since you aren’t considering the feelings of your own friends and family, you aren’t even close to considering my feelings or those of my family. What do you think that it feels like to find out that someone is basically pretending to be you? Not in name. Not in the way you look. But to BE you. To take your thoughts and stories, and the cute things that your child says, and to claim them as their own? This is like trying to steal someone’s entire daily life life. This is not okay.
I don’t know what your reasons are for doing this, and I doubt I ever will, but you need to stop. You need to stop for yourself. You need to stop for your friends and family. And you need to stop for me. If you have nothing to say on the internet, then get off of the internet. Any praise or admiration you get from people in exchange for writing words that are not your own, is meaningless. They aren’t praising you. They are praising who they think you are. They are praising a lie. It’s immoral, it’s pathetic, it’s manipulative, and it’s scary as hell.
As a blogger I put myself out there. I put my family out there. I tell stories for people to enjoy. But I have a limit. I have a line that I don’t cross. There are stories I don’t tell. And just because I write things for you to read, doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve that limit and that line. I deserve some privacy and respect just like any other person does. My life is still mine. You can’t steal from it. You can’t pretend to be me. You can’t try to become me. Every word you read in every single blog, or column, or Facebook status, is someone else’s words. These words are not yours to take.
Things like this make me worry about my safety and the safety of my family. The person who did this may just be an insecure person who wants to be liked. But she may also be a person who wants to wear my skin. There’s no way of knowing. And that’s what’s scary.
Years ago, when I started my blog, I never thought that so many people would read it. I never thought ahead and imagined that it might go way beyond my family and my friends. I didn’t think about the fact that telling little stories about my life might make me a target for plagiarism, or mean that I was going to have to deal with unstable people. I didn’t predict that I would someday be visiting the FBI with a file of threatening emails. Or that someone would essentially try to take on my identity. But just because I LOVE to write and to connect with people, doesn’t mean that my life is up for grabs. I am me. You are not. You have no right to pretend to be me. You need to come clean to the people who love you. You need to seek professional help. You need to learn to be comfortable in your own skin, because you can’t have mine.