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Random Thoughts: Anonymity at its Worst

I rarely binge-watch, but my recent exception – and guilty pleasure – is the MTV show “Catfish”. Although I am reasonably comfortable navigating the world of social media, it is not something I enjoy (shocker!). I also am attuned to how real or perceived anonymity undercuts civility and erodes veracity. Based on comments I occasionally skim following digital news stories (with the term “news” sometimes loosely applied), few individuals use their screen names or adopted personas to reinforce the positive or in any way make the world a better place.

If “there’s a sucker born every minute” (misattributed to P.T. Barnum, per Wikipedia), then the internet and social media are prime spawning grounds. What’s unfortunate – and “Catfish” provides example upon example in exposing perpetrators of identity hoaxes – is the general absence of empathy or acceptance of accountability on the part of those called out for misleading and frequently cruel behavior.

Challenging or sad backstories once referred to character-building situations. Today, they provide excuses that apparently are expected to absolve one of personal responsibility for word and deed.

A compilation of “16 Scary Statistics of Online Dating” (Rebecca Sutton) provides examples of and statistics on how people misrepresent themselves in online dating. Physical appearance, financial status and actual availability are three areas in which the truth is most often obfuscated.

A theme resurrected and replayed recently is that women are most afraid in online dating of meeting a serial killer, while men fear their dates will be fat (, 26 September 2014). Prospective murderer vs. fat chick. Now there’s a concept on which to reflect.

People I know have met partners or spouses online. To their knowledge, the person they are with is who s/he originally claimed to be. They escaped the online dating world, successful and unscathed. Hope lives on.

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