Protecting One's Identity and Deception on LPSG

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by petite, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. petite

    petite New Member

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    Here on LPSG, I try to be careful about protecting my identity. I created some personal rules regarding what I would and would not discuss to make it easier for me to protect myself. I realize that I probably go to lengths that others would not go to. My biggest paranoia isn't that someone here might discover who I am, but that someone who already knows me IRL would recognize me and then would have the ability to learn too many private things about my hubby and me by reading my post history.

    You might wonder how likely is that to happen? Well, it's already happened to me once!

    Imagine, if you will, that I told you that yesterday my hubby and I pulled into the McDonald's and when I was getting out of my car, a circus elephant with a midget on top of it ran into the parking lot and sat on a red VW bug, etc. That's the sort of story that me and my hubby would end up telling lots of people in our real lives. Now, if I also shared that story here on LPSG, then anyone who heard that story would then know who Ms. Petite and TheBoyfriend are! This has actually happened to me. Something really hilarious happened, one of those great stories that keep people rolling and is funny and surprising because of how out of the ordinary the events were. I wrote about it on my anonymous blog. It was a big hit. I also told the story so that at least several hundred people have heard it. Then, the inevitable happened. A friend of TheBoyfriend told us that they went to a party and someone started talking about a hilarious blog post that he had read. He told the story. TheBoyfriend's friends had heard the exact same story from my own mouth. They asked to see the blog, which had ~600 posts, many of them highly personal because I had assumed that the likelihood of someone who could recognize me accidentally stumbling across it was almost nil. I was obviously wrong. That blog is no longer online.

    I reveal far more private things on LPSG than I ever did on my blog! But I'm much more careful now, and that makes me feel safe enough to be open.

    So now I ask myself, "Am I likely to tell this story in real life? Have I told it?" If the answer is yes, then I don't tell it here. I wouldn't tell the elephant story at all, it's a big red sign that says, "Yes, it's me." Or I carefully remove all the specific details from the story so that even if someone thought that it sounded familiar, he or she couldn't be entirely positive that it's me. So, Ms. Petite isn't a good storyteller, but she's a bad storyteller on purpose.

    Now, here's my question...

    I don't wish to be deceptive, just private. There's a big difference between not revealing one's profession and claiming to have a profession that one doesn't have so as to throw people off your scent. To do the second thing is clearly wrong.

    I'm wondering about the line between vagueness and actual deception. For example, if I want to tell a story about my own father, but the story requires that I reveal specific information that could threaten my privacy, would it be acceptable to say that he's "someone I know" instead of revealing that it's my father? Technically, he is someone I know, although most people don't refer to actual family members like that, so does that cross the line into deception? I think that may be okay. Even further, suppose I wanted to share an experience that is actually about me, but in order for the story to have any relevance, I have to reveal specifics about myself that could reveal my identity to someone who thinks I sound familiar, could I say that the story is about "someone I know" if I'm actually talking about myself? I think that might cross the line into deception.

    What do you think? When does vagueness become actual deception? When does it become wrong?

    Suppose that you are actually an expert on several topics, but you know that since you are an expert that you talk about those topics so often IRL that they're a big red flag that could reveal your identity. So when those topics comes up here on LPSG you ignore them, but every once in a while, you can't resist popping in and giving your opinion, but when you do it, you pretend to be somewhat naive. You don't outrightly state that you're naive, but you write in a way that implies that you are fairly ignorant about a subject that you are extremely educated about. Is it wrong? On the one hand, you've made no claims whatsoever, just expressed your opinion, but on the other hand, you've knowingly behaved in a misleading way, which is different from omission. (I plead the fifth about whether I've ever done this...)
     
    #1 petite, Apr 3, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  2. luka82

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    Love, this has been the longest post here I have read in...well...I don`t know how long! And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for making me concentrate! :heart:
    The shitty thing is, I can`t answer your post not because I don`t want to, more because I really haven`t given it much thought. I am who I am, both here and IRL. I don`t believe there is a fragment of my life that hasn`t been told on LPSG. Of course, I don`t tell everyone everything. I try to be selective. But that is about me.
    When it comes to other members, even though I know their names and what their occupation is (I`m talking about people here I concider close friends), I hardly ever use their names in PMs. If there is anything I respect, it`s one`s right to privacy. Ugh, I don`t know how to say this to make sense... I like to know things, but I never spread them.
    I am zero paranoid when it comes to my life, but I get paranoid A LOT when it comes to the lives of people I like. I don`t think I could ever live with myself if a personal information about anyone on this site came out from my mouth.
    EDIT- And I believe a lie is a lie! And if someone asks you about your personal info, if you feel uncomfortable just say-Sorry, I`m uncomfortable when it comes to sharing....blah, blah. It`s not deception! ;)
     
    #2 luka82, Apr 3, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  3. Pitbull

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    What you really need to do is adopt a boring lifestyle with no circus performers and trained pachyderms or pinipeds.

    I would say that you are justified in changing some details slightly to protect yourself.
    "My father" to "someone I knew" or "I heard a story about someone" is fine.
    Remember you are not deceiving in the real sense because we do not know your father and that fact that the person is your father is irrevelent to the point of the story.

    And you are protecting 2 identities here - yours and your father's (or whoever else you might be discussing).

    Creative writing of fiction calls for details
    There was a man... might get you a "C"
    vs
    A middle aged math teacher, whose shoulder length dirty blonde hair was never combed, lived in a two room apartment above the newsstand across from the railroad station in Tinyville Arkansas... makes a story more interesting

    But the math teacher probably does not want to be on LPSG.

    Don't feel guilty.
    The damage that could be done by people knowing who you are is great.
    Protect yourself.

    Now don't make me tell the story of the 6' 8" woman who had a great blue heron under her arm...
     
  4. keycock

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    Dear Miss Petite:
    I sympathize with your apprehension. It's good to know that we're not drawn to this site in search of risk. That wouldn't be healthy.
    For me the LPSG exists in an alternate universe, where things happen that would not be acceptable in the "real world". What we may write here is indeed something of an act of fiction, which may or may not be based on reality. I see it as a kind of a game, playing make-believe, and not to be taken too seriously.
    The situation becomes a little different if someone asks for advice (which has happened, both in our chats and PMs) and when asked I would be cautious but I wouldn't try to mislead. Otherwise, let's play our chosen roles well.
    BTW, elephants are always trying to mate with VWs, especially the tawny ones.

    O===w
     
  5. Endued

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    I don't think there's anything wrong whatsoever with giving out some false information. Like with what you said about changing the profession, don't see anything bad with that at all. I'd say it's worth it to share an amusing tale or a relevent anecdote but still preserve your anonymity.

    In an ideal world, we'd not have to keep things secret here. I'd love to be able to have nothing hidden, but I'm not bold enough not to care what others may say. C'est la vie!

    *edit* Oh, I forgot to say, that it becomes 'wrong' when the white lies are there for self-promotion. Claiming to be some globetrotting entrepeneur or something to sound more glamorous is just plain sad.
     
    #5 Endued, Apr 3, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  6. NCbear

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    Some of my stories in the Fictitious Stories section are based on real events, but they've all got fictional elements.

    Similarly, I scrub the identifiers in my posts for the reasons you discuss, petite.

    I think it's all about maintaining a healthy understanding of what is and is not real, and what can become linked due to information sharing.

    NCbear (who's really the bastard son of Jimmy Hoffa and Divine, and who grew up at the future location of Michael Jackson's ranch--but in the 1940s :rolleyes::tongue:)
     
  7. LaFemme

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    I don't believe that I am deceptive here at LPSG - but I am protective of my identity. There is only one person here who knows all and I trust him 100% as he trusts me. I do tend to be vague and not tell stories that could be specifically identified with me. Professionally there are areas where I could offer an opinion, but I either avoid those topics or merely support another post that may be similar to something I might say. At times this is difficult as I am very passionate about what I do. But I like it here and I'd like to stay and enjoy the flirtations, open sexuality and community I've found here.

    And despite my vagueness, I am not deceptive or vague about the type of person I am. I think I present myself exactly as who I am whether you like me or not.
     
  8. petite

    petite New Member

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    It's good to know that I'm not the only one who is so cautious and that there are others who do the same thing that I do!
     
  9. IntoxicatingToxin

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    I don't think being vague is being deceptive. I think that lying is being deceptive. If someone outright asked you a question and you lied, that would be deceptive. If you told us a different gender, or lied about how you looked, that would be deceptive. Not wanting to tell us about the elephant at McDonald's isn't deceptive! It's just being private. :smile:
     
  10. B_Hickboy

    B_Hickboy New Member

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    Lying is fun. Practically nobody here knows me, and I like it that way. Some of the folks I've met here have my phone number, someof us have met in person, and one of them is going to be my wife.

    But most of you don't know me, and I make up shit about Hickboy and who he is, just for my own entertainment's sake. I like it that way.
     
  11. hung_10

    hung_10 Well-Known Member

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    Ive already had pics stolen and used on other sites..I think ill just stay annonomous cept to the ladies who know me already..lol
     
  12. b.c.

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    Hey, don't feel too badly. I'm really a nun... in a convent, and everything I've said to date has been absolute bullshit.
     
  13. Mule

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    Great thread, Petite. I have decided that while I don't mind telling people my profession, I am not going to talk about specifics, such as what I teach (I'm a college professor). The reason is that it is a fairly narrow field so does pose an identification risk. Normally I wouldn't be concerned about being identified, but because what I do has certain community standards attached to it, I have to be careful.

    As others have said, there is a difference between abstracting details that could identify you and actively deceiving people. Using "someone I know" instead of "my father" is fine, because your father is someone you know. You're just not going into specifics as to how you know that person.
     
  14. paneros

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    Very interesting thread.. it poses many interesting questions about what a cyber-identity is as opposed to a real-world identity.

    For myself, I find communicating in the cyber-world such as LPSG brings out aspects of me that are certainly already in me, but which society, and sometimes myself, is currently not comfortable having expressed openly - e.g. frank sexual enquiry, discussion and revelation - these are not acceptable ice-breakers with fellow-commuters! And that's what's great about here - release those psychic tensions, learn and grow!

    However, as you say, many of us wish to protect our real-world identity and privacy, myself included, and the issue of how to do that in a non-misleading way arises.
    I am comfortable with expressing the essence of who I am in my posts, while omitting or changing any identifying details that I don't see as relevant to who I am.

    I don't even think the second one is wrong, unless one is trying to get kudos from it -as in 'I'm a brain-surgeon, theoretical physicist and lecturer at Harvard' - or putting oneself up as an expert to bolster an opinion.
    So, if I'm a well-known wood artist, I might just say I'm a creative artist instead, or I might throw people off the scent and say I'm a milkman. The latter would be mildly deceptive, I agree, but who cares what I am anyway, in contributing to forums? As long as I'm not going to use the fictitious milkman identity to then start talking about the price of butter, or launch into the merits of homogenisation, and it's not related to my posts, it's trivial.
    However, in PMs as I get to know someone, I'll simply withold info until trust builds between us, and gradually reveal more as I feel comfortable.

    The other thing is, this is cyberia, an alternative reality in many ways, and stripped of many of the body-language cues we'd respond to in each other if we were interacting in the real world, where 80% of our communication is non-verbal. Due to this, the picture one builds in one's head of who one is interacting with (the cyber-identity) is already quite restricted, so I don't take it too seriously... Maybe you are who you say you are, maybe not...or more precisely, maybe who I THINK you are in my head, based on posts of yours I've read, which is rarely going to be all of them, is quite accurate, maybe not, especially after being filtered through my conditioning.... it doesn't really matter to me unless we are going to establish a more genuine interaction, or real world meeting. Then of course it REALLY matters! So in forum discussions, I just tend to believe what people say they are, and take it into consideration if they're elaborating on their real-world experience to back up a point of view.

    I would go with the 'someone I know' on both counts as being totally acceptable because it's true and doesn't change the essence of the story.. it's just a prudent measure to protect identity, particularly that of someone other than yourself. After all, you are indeed technically also "someone you know". (I would certainly hope so!) I would not consider that deception at all.

    I don't believe vagueness itself ever becomes deception, unless the vagueness is a lie.... but then it's not vagueness! I would only thing it's wrong when working to establish genuine one-to-one interactions, but allowing inaccurate details to persist for personal gain. And also, as stated above, to willfully mislead for pseudocyberkudos.
     
  15. Countryguy63

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    I have almost the opposite problem. I tend to reveal too much honesty regarding my life. I never realized how nieve I was before joining here. :mad:
     
  16. Joll

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    I'm generally not too bothered what I say about myself in here, unless it's something that could identify me to someone who knows me irl (so, same problem really).

    I'm a lot less specific to real life friends about lpsg tho - and generally say I go on a site where you can discuss politics. The hassle would be endless if I tried to explain it more accurately. :/

    I don't think there's a problem with this. You're revealing as much as you can without compromising your privacy, and you're not actually claiming to know things that you don't (which would be worse, imo).
     
    #16 Joll, Apr 3, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 3, 2011
  17. august86

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    Very good issue to ponder.

    I tend to agree. If you're not comfortable divulging something about yourself, vagueness is the way to go, or just refusing outright.

    One's privacy should not be a reason to tell a "flat-out" lie to someone. That being said, having boundaries on what you tell, and to whom, are important, more so if what you say will or might end up somewhere else (like a public blog, newspaper, or other media).

    I'm pretty open about myself, usually to those with whom I've built a rapport. (They know who they are :wink:) I don't go about spewing private factoids about my life to just anyone.

    I know exactly what you mean. The explanation in itself would be exhausting.
     
  18. lafever

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    Ditto :rolleyes:
     
  19. ManlyBanisters

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    Actually, petite, I think anyone who knows you even slightly well IRL, would recognise you from reading maybe a dozen of your posts. You have a very specific and easily recognisable style of approaching and talking around an argument / point of view. I doubt very much that you are any different in conversation IRL, on your facebook posts, on named blogs, etc..

    I expect anyone who corresponds with me even semi regularly wouldn't need to read much of 'ManlyBanisters' to recognise me.

    Shit happens. But there's no point in worrying about exactly what shit happens, when and to whom until it does.
     
  20. Calboner

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    That depends on whom you lie with. :tongue:
    With a couple of modifications, that goes for me too. The modifications would be that I am only concerned about what I have disclosed about myself, not about someone else, and that the disclosure is visual rather than verbal. I would not want anyone of my acquaintance (at present, anyhow) to know that I have posted photos and videos of myself nude and in some cases masturbating. I am not sure what consequences there might be beyond acute embarrassment for me, but (1) that would be sufficiently distressing to me by itself to make me want to avoid it, and (2) precisely because I do not know what further consequences there might be, I think it would be foolish of me to put myself at risk of them.

    I am very sparing of disclosing facts about myself that would increase the likelihood of someone of my acquaintance recognizing me here, but I don't necessarily withhold those facts from people with whom I communicate by private message. For instance, I do not disclose my location in my profile, but, as long as I have no reason to think that someone lives where I might run into him, I don't generally withhold that information from private communications. It is interesting, though, to see what can happen when you let your guard up. I once revealed to a correspondent the name of the city in which I live, assuming that it was unlikely that he lived in the same city; it turned out that he did. Then he wanted to know in what part of town I lived. At this point, I no longer had any good excuse for being secretive, so I told him. It turned out that he lived in the same part of town. Then he started trying to talk me into meeting with him. There wasn't anything creepy about his approach, but it was an awkward business to refuse in a way that would seem non-negotiable without being harsh to someone who was only being a bit overfriendly.
     
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