14 June 2011

When fiction is NOT okay

Say what? Isn't this a writing blog? We're all fiction writers, are we not? We make stuff up all the time. Here's the thing, though - when we make stuff up, we let people know that's what we're doing.

Now, I admit it - I'm not really a very good blogger. I suck at getting links and pictures into posts, I barely pop 'round to read a few others, and most of those are either writing or humour; hell, I don't even have my own, I just share this one with the Burrow crew. But it has come to light under even my narrow view that there's quite a flap happening over one particular blog this week - A Gay Girl in Damascus, to be specific. You'd have to have had your head under a rock and your ears plugged with dirt to have missed what's been going on in the Middle East lately; this blog (a very popular one, by all accounts) was purportedly by an out lesbian living in Syria - not the safest situation.

From what I can tell, there was a message posted, supposedly by a cousin, that the blogger, Amina, had been kidnapped. So, all kinds of uproar and people trying to help track her down. Then came the first big shocker - that the photographs she'd said were of herself were actually of a woman living in London who'd never heard of her. Facebook page? More stolen photos. IP addresses? Hang on, they're coming from Scotland? (Now, y'all know I love Scotland but it sure as shite ain't Syria.)

Turns out this whole thing was an immensely wide-ranging hoax, with parts of the internet persona dating back years (in addition to the Facebook profile, there was one from a dating site and - possibly most worrisome - a Canadian woman she was supposedly in a long-distance relationship with {and it's not the gay part I'm disturbed by, let me tell you}). 'Cause the Syrian-American lesbian is actually a white dude named Tom from good ol' Georgia (and studying in Scotland, hence the IPs). Looks to me like that kidnap message was an excuse not to blog for a few days, 'cause oh, oops, he's on vacation in Turkey with his wife.

There is a time and a place for fiction, buddy (actually, many times and many places), but this is sure as hell not one of them. For further reading, check out this article by the Washington Post, as well as this discussion thread.


Jessica Bell said...

What???? This is nuts! Did the guy end up getting charged with anything? Is there a law for something like this?

Hart Johnson said...

Yeah--I can sort of see a blog by a fictional person to raise issues, but NOT one that includes developing relationships, and CERTAINLY not any attempt to raise panic.

If it were me, I also couldn't keep up the front--when I exchange with readers, it brings out my need to be ME and I end up outing myself.

Unknown said...

Wow! What a horrible way for this guy to grab people's attention. Not cool!

ViolaNut said...

All - My roommate started telling me about it yesterday, so I looked into it a bit and wrote this around 3 AM. This morning when I got to work, it was on NPR. Stuff like this really burns me - all the atrocities that are actually happening in that part of the world, and here's this dude MAKING UP MORE? Uh-uh. Not cool.