Saturday 21 January 2012

Pretenders - Online Betrayal and Heartbreak

I know a lot of my readers are mothers and fathers of premature babies. A lot of us seek and give support online. It makes sense. All though prematurity is not uncommon, it is uncommon enough that we are all spread out through the country. Some of us have children who are poorly and can't mix with other children, although some areas have fantastic, strong support groups, not all areas of the country, and indeed the world, have these sources of support.

My friend Mummy Beadzoid (Christina) wrote this lovely piece about a facebook group, that I am a member of, and love very much. This week something happened, so sad and shocking, and I won't go into explicit detail, only to say that a "member" who had been sharing the journey of her little girl, had made the group aware her baby had died. Only, as it transpired, this woman did not have a baby, and had used photographs that were on a blog, not dissimilar to my own.

Now when I started sharing photographs of Joseph on line, and on the blog, I was a little worried about privacy, future embarrassment, and paedophiles. The fact that someone might poach my photos and pose as the mother of a premature baby in order to get sympathy, or to play out some strange fantasy, never entered my head.

I have no idea of the motivation of this woman (and lets face it, we don't know if she's a woman, she could be anyone). I assume its the symptom of a much deeper problem, and she clearly needs some help.

For those of us who support others, and receive support online, it's deeply shocking, and deeply upsetting that our trust can be breached so deeply. That someone can do this with such little thought of those they are betraying, and, indeed, the family of the little baby who's photographs were used to perpetuate this set of lies.

I have my blog, and my photographs, out in the world in good faith. This episode has upset me so much, and I felt that I wanted, in fact needed, to blog, as a warning to all of us in premature baby, and babyloss circles. Not everyone is "on the level". We need to have our "bullshit radar" about us before sharing our innermost thoughts, and certainly before giving any financial help (I am not aware that this person is trying it on, however have heard of other cases where money has been obtained fraudulently).

My heart goes out to the owner of this group. Danielle is a kind, warm, giving person, who has struggled after the birth of her daughter, and gives of her time and her experience freely without question. She has a group of administrators around her who are just the same, warm, open, giving people.

I'm not going to remove my photographs, and I'm not going to dwell on it. I am not going to stop supporting others on line, or close myself off, as I feel that way, these "pretenders" have been victorious.

I post this as a cautionary tale, and in support of the wonderful work Danielle has done, creating and nurturing this strong, caring group.


1 comment:

  1. oh dear! thats just heart wrenching! I read another blog and a girl completely stole the writers identity from her blog. The copycat gave her husband and two kids new names and used every single family picture from her blog and facebook page with captions like "love my hubs so much hes so gorgeous" "love these precious littles sooo much". You know what Im saying? Like she didnt just post the pictures but really took ownership of the whole lie. Worst thing was facebook was very lax about blocking her and the blogowner had to go through all sorts of hoops to prove the woman was stealing. Funnily enough the copycat got on her FB page and started ranting why the f*** had FB blocked some of her photo albums?! er because they werent your photos? she then reposted them and started another facebook page. The lady who actually owned the blog had also had two babies born one month early each who had been in a NICU and hooked up to all the IVs etc. She too told a story about how one of her babies had died. Its really quite horrific but like you say all I can do is pray for these poor people who are so deeply disturbed that they can fabricate a whole life and have that need to lie about poor sweet Angels. Kylie love their will always be trolls out there and I struggle with putting pictures of Charlie up ALL the time but like you say I think these people win if we stop telling our stories. Love you, your sweet boy and your blog very much so so glad youre going to keep on going xxxx ... I wonder if its the same lady? funny its hard to think two people could both do the exact same thing... scary thing is they are probably two completely different people :(