Internet Guy: How do you handle frauds and fakers?

On the Internet no one knows if you're a dog—or a raging celebrity.

Mar 3, 2020, 7:32 am*


Got a problem on the Internet? The Internet Guy tells you what it is. With two novels he can’t sell, a screenplay he’d like to show you, and some  “sinister monkey” art that would look great over your sofa, Rick Polito dishes advice with a big spoon.

Dear Internet Guy,

I know at least one of my friends is living an online double life. He tweets that he’s clubbing with models when I know he lives with his mom in a gated golf community. How can you tell when somebody’s living behind a Facebook façade?

—Suspicious in Cyberspace

Dear Suspicious,

The New Yorker cartoon that sums it up—”On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog“—is already fully legal at 18 years of age. Back then, if you had a bogus online persona , it probably involved overselling your orc-slaying skills in D&D. You could have Photoshopped your picture for if you’d had a slide scanner to get your photo into your 32-bit Windows NT speed machine. Except that didn’t launch for another two years.

Mark Zuckerberg was 9 years old when that New Yorker issue came out.

So none of this is new. People have been padding their resumes since George Washington had one of his slaves cut down the cherry tree and hired a publicist to spin the story.

What do you do about it? I mean beyond hiring a Lady Gaga lookalike for your fourth “30th” birthday party? Nothing. Your friends are going to self-aggrandize a bit. Everybody does. It’s not like you can run every status update through Snopes.

You can, however, look for warning signs.  The more flashy it sounds, the more desperate your friend is. If somebody status update includes the words “raging in the avenues, bitches!” translate that as “I cried during The Bachelor. Please pass the bon-bons.”

Do feel free to spice up your own life. Nobody needs to know that’s your head on Matthew McConaughey’s body. And Spring Break in Ibiza is going to score way higher on the quotient of cool than your Lake of the Ozarks jaunt.

Image by Rock Portrait Photograph

Share this article
*First Published: Mar 23, 2012, 4:30 pm