On the Internet Nobody Knows You’re a Dog (or David Archuleta)

Nah, I’m not really David Archuleta (or his mama Lupe or papi Jeff or anybody from his “team” or an ex-Jive label executive).  But, hypothetically speaking, how would you know what I claim is true?

All I’ve ever claimed to be is a fan, an admirer, a lover of The Voice.  And I blog about that love from my perspective as a black woman and under my Nom de Plume Hello Gorgeous (aka HG).

I feel the need to reiterate this and to confirm with you, dear readers of Soul David, this basic tenet that binds us together: that we are all Archies on this David-loving blog.

Today, I got caught up reading a fascinating story about some white American dude, Tom MacMaster, who had been blogging as a “Gay Girl in Damascus” by the name of Amina Abdullah Arraf (heck, he even put up a photo of the woman, which turned out to be a stolen image from the Facebook of Croatian Jelena Lecic, who resides in London. Seriously!).  Of course, he’s now taking some heat for pretending that his blog Avatar had been kidnapped by Syrian state police who have been cracking down on dissenters, especially those who are marginalized (like sexual minorities that he supposedly represented).  Folks were so caught up in the “danger” of Amina – what with the existence of an Amina Arraf Facebook page and everything – that there was even an online human rights campaign mounted to “Free Amina.”

Just… Wow!

There is so much outrage, that another blogger wrote A Note to Fellow White Males about the unethical behavior of pretending to be someone you’re not (especially someone supposedly living under a repressive state regime who had gotten kidnapped). That so many fell for the story has a lot of folks with omelettes on their faces.  Still, because of the widespread attention this blogger received, real “gay girls” in Syria could well come under government scrutiny, or who could “disappear” because the state will simply say they don’t really exist and point to this blogger as a case in point.

Of course, this is not the first time a blog hoax had been perpetrated. Back in 2009, an anti-abortion “mom” pretended to give birth to a terminally ill baby, then later fabricated its death.  So many people were taken in by the story, only to be outraged to find that the “Mom” blogger had made the whole thing up.

The moral of these stories?

“On the Internet Nobody Knows You’re a Dog.”

And sometimes our virtual communities feel real and our communications create an impression of friendships and subcultural groups. I remember the first time I went to a David concert, I had planned to meet up with fellow Archies, whom I met on Noting David, at a hotel.  One of my offline friends thought I had gone way off the deep end.

“What?! Who are these people? Have you ever met them?  What do you know about them? How do you know they’re safe?”

Can you imagine? It hadn’t even dawned on me that the people I’d been interacting with over a David fan blog could be potentially “dangerous.”  After all our gushing over Archuthighs and sharing my David Dreams, it didn’t dawn on me that anyone who wanted to meet up at a David Archuleta concert would mean me any harm. We were just materializing in the flesh for the first time and putting actual faces on Screen Names!  I certainly wasn’t expecting to meet a serial killer from the Archuniverse.

And as it turned out, I didn’t! And most of the fan community’s concert experiences, in which they have interacted with fellow Archies, have all been fairly positive.  Still, we really don’t know who we’re talking to and who’s hiding behind their computer.

(Which is why, Dear Readers, when I smell “trolls” in the comments section, I put them on full blast! I’m not trying to nurture some viper in our online bosom!)

Still, as these recent stories indicate, it’s always wise to be discerning.  I of course accept that anyone who bothers to visit my site and post comments about our mutual David love are who they say they are (under a guise or avatar or screen name but still the “essence” of their Archie fandom is taken for granted).

Debates about “real fans” aside, I’d like to think we’re all here innocuously to celebrate in that David love.

Then again, maybe I’m just a bright-eyed, tail-wagging cocker spaniel! 🙂

Posted on June 14, 2011, in current events, fans, Soul David. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Great article HG !

    I read this story on the news about the guy blogging as a “Gay Girl in Damascus” .
    There was a debate yesterday on french TV about journalism and the treatment of the infos. There are a vast amount of informations conveyed with all these new ways of communication (twitter, facebook, myspace, news blogs, forums, etc) and their universal accessibility made it hard to determine what is a real info and what’s false.
    The media should be careful about what they decide to treat as an info and they should check it first before diffusing it. We know as David fans how a rumor from twitter can spread and be deformed. The media have their part of responsability but the internet users should be careful too and not believe in everything they read.
    There was a story on the news two days ago about a 9 years old boy who was bullied at school because some of his “friends” created a facebook account using his name and posted bad things about the other students.

    I think that you’re ahead of us regarding the legislation. It’s still hard here to protect people from defamation on internet.

  2. Also, I wanted to say that this blogger did more harm than good to the cause he wanted to help.

    It’s also the reflect of our society, everybody wants their 15 minutes of fame no matter how.

  3. hell0g0rge0us

    Good points, Cmoi! I think if anyone has been a follower of David online, we’ve all HAD to learn how to sift through the noise to find out what’s only rumor and what might be true.

    Hmmm, I guess being an Archie gives us a heads-up on detecting BS on the Internet? 😛

    • I don’t have any good points to offer this morning only to say that this is interesting and informative.

      I have been learning and detecting a lot while watching David work his way through his career building process and I am most appreciative of all that I read on this site.

      SB

  4. Great comments! I have learned that when anyone shares any David-related info (such as “he is making an album” or “I spoke to his manager”) to always ask where they got the information from and if it was reliable (from an official source). Other than that, I take most info as fan speculation.

    There was a good New York Times article about the gay girl controversy yesterday.

  5. Interesting article, HG. People can misrepresent themselves (or even the news) so easily these days. I need to read the news stories and will refrain from commenting on it until I do so.

    I will comment on the fandom side of the story, however. I’ve sometimes wondered if a commenter might be David’s grandpa or aunt. I’ve also struggled, from early on, with how to handle fan meetings. I didn’t feel unsafe, myself, but more as the mother of teens, had to examine the problem of cautioning my daughters that they really didn’t know their online friends, while I then made plans to drive for hours with my online friends, share hotels or even hotel rooms with them, etc. In some cases, I even brought one or both daughters along with me. My daughters did talk about this, and somehow we all felt a resolution that had something to do with my age and experience. We agreed that when they were adults, the choice would be theirs to make but that they should be aware of potential risk. Still feel funny about all of this, however.

    • I can relate to struggling with fan meetings, lol. The first time I carpooled to a concert with online fans, I asked to meet them in a public place first, just to make sure they weren’t ax murderers. lol. And just because ppl have David in common doesn’t necessarily make them compatible on a trip, so I fired off alot of questions to see if we’d mesh.

      The VIP was kind of awkward for me. It was like…I’d probably had intense online conversations with some of these folks, and maybe even felt like a friendship was forming. But without knowing what anyone looked like, how would I know if I’ve talked to them or not? lol. I really wanted to introduce myself to some posters, but couldn’t exactly walk up to each person & say, “Hi, I’m so-and-so on Soul David or FOD. Have we already met?” lol

  6. Shanny in Australia

    Ha, right from the title of your post you reminded me of Savage Garden’s ‘Santa Monica’.

    ♪But on the telephone line
    I am anyone, I am anything
    I want to be
    I could be a supermodel
    Or Norman Mailer
    And you wouldn’t know the difference
    Or would you♪

    …..

    ♪On the telephone line
    I am any height, I am any age,
    I wanna be.
    I could be a caped crusader,
    a space invader,
    and you wouldn’t know the difference
    Or would you?♪

    A long time back I remember reading about how the internet is actually a community of trust and co-operation. It surprised me to think of it that way because we tend to always be so ‘security conscious’. But if you think about it, because it can be such an unsafe place, every time we share details about our life, share our email address, buy something online, send a gift, or as some say…share hotels rooms with other Archies, we are showing trust in strangers.

    When we show interest in another persons life, tell them we will pray for them, pass some info on to someone else, send twitpics, take vids of concerts, chat together and abide by mostly unwritten social rules, we are co-operating in a community with strangers.

    I think it’s kind of nice to think about in this world when so many people don’t know their neighbours anymore. Perhaps our communities are more of our choosing now, rather than what we are landed with. Perhaps this old cyber world thing doesn’t get enough recognition for the good that it does.

    Just a few thoughts… and I enjoyed your post HG. 🙂

  7. This is an interesting topic. Thanks HG for bringing it up.
    I’ve had many a conversation with people in my family who find my ODD a little over-the-top and scary. I can only respond with the same answer to “their” problem…”Trust me. You’ve known me your whole lives. I’ve never shown myself to be anything other than what you see. If I can use my street smarts like I always have, just know that I trust my fellow archangels and would know if I was in a bad situation.
    I’m with Shanny, I find it quite a beautiful thang that this cyber community is a positive one where we seem to pride ourselves on utilizing our social graces. 🙂

  8. raelovingangels

    Woof! woof, woooof!

  9. I’ve been following the Gay Girl in Damascus story. I bet MacMaster was enjoying the attention he was receiving before things got out of hand.

    I’m hesitant to post on some sites if I have a strong opinion & I don’t know the site administrators. They could potentially retaliate using the personal info associated with my post (i.e., IP address, email, etc.) I used to periodically send news updates to a site that no longer exists and I would sign the messages using my blog name. To my dismay, one of the admins acknowledged my update on their website using my given name. I was like this 😯 . I felt so exposed, lol.

    From the previous thread, thanks to lizardj and Marie for commenting on my Adele/ Native American music post. I’m trying to find out who did the arrangement and production on Rolling in the Deep. I’m curious about his/her background.

  10. Yay! Xenia moved on! Thank you, Blake. 😀

    Sigh. I love The Voice.

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