isn't lying, it's role-playing." That's often the response I get from fellow on-line
people when I meet them in real life and broach the subject of reality on the net.
You are reading this, so you must have on-line experience. How do you describe yourself
while logged into a chat room? What's your occupation? Are you married, single, divorced?
They are all questions that come up in conversation. How do you answer them?
Cyber-sex is on tap at certain chat rooms. You can have a relationship that lasts 30
minutes. You can join a list where you are part of a community, a group of like-minded
people sharing ideas, and make friends with people you will never meet.
I am not innocent of the crimes I write about, as a matter of fact I am so guilty of
deceiving people that it is a wonder I have survived on the net this long. I have been
on-line now for a couple of years, and have always used a handle, as we used to say in CB
talk; to most I am Gilgamesh, a travelling bard.
Why Gilgamesh? It was handy, once I logged on to chat and my usual nickname was being
used already. I had started a book with the main character called Gilgamesh, so Gilgamesh
I became. Although a few times I have been Nicole and at others Natalie.
Nicole you say? Well I started my net life with e-mails and I found that no one was
interested in talking to a 30+ IT professional. There was this girl called Nicole Voyiatzi
working for us at the time, she left for another job, but her mail stayed active.
I started using it, I felt dirty at first, I felt even dirtier afterwards. I got a few
addresses from a pen pal system and started requesting friends on the net. I got a few
answers, mostly 15 year old boys and 3 girls. By the way, this can get you the death
penalty in some of the southern states.
The boys just had no idea, they didn't know what to do with a woman, I asked them to
send me pictures, you know which kind and they didn't even know how to make attachments to
mail. Two of the girls were too young so I let them go.
The last girl was a woman, 19, and had a baby with another one on the way. She was
married to her high school boyfriend and loved e-mail. We corresponded for 14 months. It
became a very weird relationship. Nicole and her got along really well. Nicole was 20 and
working as a temp in an IT company while doing a course at Sydney University, she just
loved music and was into Wicca.
It was a co-incidence that her e-mail friend, I won't say her name, was also a wiccan.
They traded poems and talked about their family and friends. The two girls would trade
mail at least 20 times a week. She talked about her husband and Nicole would talk about
this older guy in the office she was really fond of, he was 30+ and loved to write.
Nicole's friend had to move to the United States and so there was a small time without
mails, when she'd got to her new house there were problems. Her husband didn't get the job
that they had been relying on; she would have to cut down on the e-mails. Nicole was very
understanding and supportive. Slowly the friendship dissolved as problem upon problem
struck Nicole's friend. One day they said their goodbyes and never mailed each other
How would she have reacted if she had learned that Nicole was not a real girl? She had
no idea that the person she was trading mails was a man in his thirties! I know I wouldn't
have liked it. Yet, the relationship was good, there was enjoyment gained from both sides,
was it really that wrong? You the reader can decide on the answer.
The net is a land of escapism, where stranger meets stranger and they sometimes become
friends. It is a land of anonymity, no faces, no identification papers, just names and
mail addresses. The problem is that relationships are a two way street. If you lie about
who and what you are, then the other party will like the person you pretend to be and not
who you really are.
In reality we all want to be accepted for what we are, but on-line we hide some flaws
and blemishes. The trick is to be honest, and leave enough of your real self in your on
line persona so that you can enjoy the relationships you create.