Facebook is part of my Triangle of Lost Productivity, along with Craftsy and Ravelry. I spend most of my time there moderating various groups and debating and discussing the hottest topics (like my favourite sleeping position).
But putting the inanity aside Facebook is a really useful tool to allow solitary practitioners to connect and share thoughts and experiences and even facilitate meeting in person. I’ve been fortunate to find a lot of like minded people over the last 5-6 years. I’ve met people who touched my life briefly but gave me a new light of understanding on one subject or another and I have met people who have affected my life profoundly and remained as lasting real life friendship.
Despite all of this Facebook has a darker side. Trolls, Spammers and Drama Queens to name just a few, let’s just call them ‘the Fakers’ from this point on, infest it’s darkest regions and sometimes quite close to the surface.
A lot of these descriptions are based on perception and the old adage ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ can apply. They are sometimes wielded inappropriately because it’s hard to judge someone’s true motivate from text, which lacks a lot of the nuances we rely on as social creatures. Clearly there are times when motive isn’t in doubt and Facebook has ways and means of dealing with this.
The pagan community has its own fair share of Fakers and some are easier to sport than others. A fairly obvious example is the Spells For Cash scam. The ‘practitioner’ in question flaunts their credentials (real or imagined) as they pedal their 100% satisfaction guaranteed never going to fail (insert name here) spell, which they will cast on your behalf for a ‘small’ renumeration. A quick Google and you can find any number of ‘abundance spells’ and *ahem* ‘enhancement spells’ which will cost you a measly £100 at least. I’ll be clear, I’m not talking about spell kits containing components and instructions here, they are a great help to those new to spell casting. I’m referring to people offering, over Facebook or websites, to do the legwork for you. The reasons why this doesn’t work are myriad and a post in itself if you are interested but rule number one in spell school always cast your own spells.
Let’s be brutal these Fakers are predators making money off the desperate and vulnerable and they are hardly subtle in it. There are others who are far more insidious, either by accident or design, and they are equally as predatory as the last example.
Some are out for money, others the recognition of having thousands of friends and followers just because it makes them feel good or because they want respect for their achievements (real or imagined). These Fakers usually suffer from one or more of the 10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases and appear in many forms but I’ll give you one example from my own experience.
I encountered a woman on Facebook who presented herself as an author and witch. She had hundreds of adoring friends and followers that frequented her various groups, pages and profile and worshiped her every post as gospel truth. On the surface she was incredibly plausible, and the excepts from her book that she posted were seemingly authentic and knowledgeable. She freely shared her excepts, although in obvious intent of promotion, and to all intents and purposes was a pillar of the community.
However the moment she was questioned she would turn from defensive to offensive on a sixpence and the person who had questioned her, no matter how innocent it might have been, was pounced upon by her adoring followers. At first it was quite easy to take her side; she’s protecting her image, defending herself against the haters and wannabes and so on. But it only takes a small thing to open the mind.
In this case the woman (about all I can really confirm is her gender because she had so many online identities and pseudonyms I couldn’t in honesty pin down a name) was a plagarist of the highest order, and would troll other knowledgeable people for ideas and potential book subjects. She made a mockery of the words ‘fair usage’ and trampled over the rights of bloggers and published authors alike. Not only was she making money on her heavily plagiarised books but she offered correspondence courses at a cost containing similarly plagiarised material. She even went to the extent of creating an event, charging people a non refundable deposit and promoting a particular hotel as the venue whilst making no effort to do anything of the sort. As you might expect the event didn’t happen and a hundred or so people from around the world lost their deposits and in some cases the money they had paid out on travel. Unfortunately not all publicity is good publicity. The hotel received nothing from this unwanted promotion but a slew of complaints as if it were their fault an event they had never heard of was cancelled.
The final nail in this coffin was an online radio interview. Apparently drunken and incoherent ramblings aside within days it was clear that this plagarist had been audacious, or perhaps confused, enough to arrange to be interviewed by a couple of Americans she had plagiarised a whole article from. Her credibility was so smashed that her Facebook following largely dissolved and her publishers dropped her leaving her no alternative to self publish under another name. She restyled herself three more times after that although by then the links were easily proven by her repeated use of the same material. Eventually she dropped below radar and presumably she’s back to trolling for new material to steal and self publish.
If you’re particularly interested in finding out more about this situation that I have briefly touched on here you can Google Rochelle Moore Plagerism. It is a saga of two years or more so there is lost of history out in the internet ether.
The problem is that it’s so hard to see through the glitter and glamour that the Faker creates and even if you’ve experienced it once it doesn’t mean you are immune for life, as I myself have discovered.
The important thing is having an open mind and thinking for yourself. It won’t stop you encountering people, and it won’t stop you being drawn it but it will allow you to see patterns and traits which are the telltale signs of a Faker sooner rather than later. These people can’t maintain the illusion forever and eventually the cracks will start to show if you are independent enough to see them.
Don’t let the horror stories put you off though, by treading lightly and mindfully you can glean much benefit from social media and make some worthwhile connections. Perversely enough its through Rochelle Moore that I established some of my most valued friendships proving that encountering a Faker can lead you straight to friends.