On Tara Michelle.
It felt like a gunshot. Or, like being hit in the stomach with a sledgehammer. I’d been had.
I suppose I’ll start at the beginning. Long before Tumblr I had made a few friends on I’m In Like With You (social media nerds have to try them all). Allison, John, Amanda, and Tara Michelle. Each of them meant something different to me and each of them managed to become important in their own unique way. In fact, Tara was the least important of these. She was a witty, interesting and very attractive girl from Chicago, a place with which I’d always sort of been enamored. But she told me she was involved with someone very special so I thought little more of our acquaintance than as a distant friendship, like with the others I mentioned.
Still, we continued to talk, and we discovered something personal existing between us both. So after some number of months I called her, and I heard her speak and it was better than the clicking of keys. We talked for four hours that night and I was fairly certain that the girl would be more important to me than I imagined before. We talked like this every night for two months.
I think I began to recognize that the girl on the phone and the girl on the web were two different people long before I decided to acknowledge it. Yet my attraction to the girl on the phone continued to grow, and I deluded myself. I began to believe that this perfect package did in fact exist, and that I was lucky enough to have caught it. I never asked her to prove herself, because I wanted to be trusted. I never told her I thought she was lying. I baited her a few times, asking her to use her webcam with me—conversationally, douchebags—or to send me photos of the things she was currently telling me about; but when those didn’t come I brushed it off and continued getting to know the voice.
I started falling in love with her. I’d post photos of her alter-ego online and show her off to my friends both wired and in Colorado, and I told her things that I haven’t told another person in three years. We were in a committed relationship. We’d never met. Yet she talked about coming to visit and I told her I’d be ready. We talked about giving each other gifts. We talked about sex. We talked about what the future would hold for us.
Like I said, it felt like a gunshot when I finally had to face the fact that I was being lied to. Rumors started circling about Tara Michelle’s real identity and she told me she thought Tumblr was starting to feel too much like high school so it was time for her to leave. I knew what she was doing, yet still I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Finally, after no less than twenty people got my attention with links to Lisa Stelly’s Facebook, MySpace and Flickr profiles I sent Tara a text message: “So…what’s the deal?”
She replied, albeit via a direct phone message. I had no trouble believing her sincerity; I knew the voice and I knew when it was being serious. She cried, and cried, and I felt sorry for her. Yet I stopped loving her almost immediately.
It’s one thing to be lied to. Both men and women use the internet as a place to become different people, fantastical people they can’t be in real life. Businesses have made millions off of insecurity, creating Second Life and The Sims and, clearly, MySpace, Facebook, Tumblr, Posterous, and any manner of other social media that I’m not familiar with. Yet it’s quite another thing to reach this kind of emotionalism and discover that it’s all been founded on, essentially, a hoax that got out of control.
These are only my thoughts on the matter. I know a lot of people reading this have opinions of their own—some have even been emotionally affected in similar ways. If you want more information I suggest you ask Michelle because she’s the only one who can tell you what prompted such an elaborate deception.
I will miss the voice on the phone. Still, I am happy to persevere because, like everything else, this is but a tick on the timeline. Life will present new challenges, new rewards, and new people to share my heart and soul with. With this experience in particular I will take with me a newfound sense of fortitude, the muscle of self-empowerment, and the certainty that it can’t get any fucking stranger than this in my life.
this was brave…we all have our opinions about this, but i respect you, and i understand
This is a really important post, and not just for people who have been duped by a fake. I’m not sure how many will actually admit it, but the idea of “the benefit of the doubt” is something that occurs all the time. The connection with someone special can escalate to something else when there’s a wall between the pair. It’s the desire for someone who you can connect with, and it’s really easy to ignore warning signs and flaws because you have this image that you can’t shake.
I can’t even guess the pain that this has caused. For awhile, I’m sure even looking at a computer screen may bring back painful emotions. To lose a relationship is one thing, but to trust in a person and have that trust violated, and publicly, is another thing altogether.This was very brave of you, and we are all deeply sorry