So I read the article called “The Lying Disease”, and afterwards I was completely floored. My jaw was on the floor for more than half the article. Valerie’s heartbreaking story filled me with so many feelings; horror, disgust, sympathy, anger, sadness. I just don’t think I’ve heard a real life saga as crazy as that in a long time. And the fact that one person had to tolerate so much hurtful deception is just absolutely heartbreaking. She describes her grueling battle with breast cancer and how when she turned to the internet for relief and support she was fooled not once, not twice, but three separate times into believing online fakers of similar diseases. It made me think about compulsive liars and sufferers of Munchausen syndrome and how internet really has taken their craft to a a completely new level. It really is the most simple thing to just SAY that you are suffering from a physical illness on the internet. And anyone patient enough to browse through WebMD on occasion can gain enough knowledge to infiltrate the vulnerable areas of the internet support groups. It’s so easy that I could probably do it right now if I wanted to. Which is terrifying. Thank goodness I don’t have that compulsion for attention that these other people seem to have. But it is such a tragedy that something that can be so good for people, like internet support groups, are such easy prey for the people who can hurt those groups, especially when all the real people there are already so down in the dumps and open and vulnerable.
I just remembered that actions like this are a big part of the beginning of the book/movie Fight Club. Why did the narrator fake testicular cancer and brain cancer and the rest? If I remember correctly I believe it so that he could cry and also sleep afterwards. I think that due to the disappointment in his life he looked towards these IRL support groups for an emotional boost and opportunity to feel open and cared about. It makes me wonder if any of these crazy people on the internet faking illnesses do so in order to gain some kind of emotional gratification. I suppose their need for attention and sympathy does qualify them to be described in that way. It is absolutely fascinating the lengths that some people will go for other people’s approval and sentiments. You must have to be incredibly insecure in yourself as a person to do these sorts of things. It’s baffling to me personally.