Fooled Again

June 21, 2011
Posted by Jay Livingston

On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a 40-year-old married American man living in Edinburgh.

Six weeks ago, I posted something about values as legitimations. The post was an analysis of an incident recounted by “Amina Arraf” who blogged as A Gay Girl in Damascus. Thuggish government agents come to arrest her. Her father intervenes and persuades them to leave.

A week ago Gay Girl was exposed as a hoax.* The blog was the creation of one Tom MacMaster, who quite possibly has never set foot inside Syria and who was blogging from Scotland. (Gawker’s report of the story is here.)

I take some comfort in knowing that many others were taken in. And sociologists much wiser and more distinguished than I have analyzed scenes from fiction and used them to illustrate sociological ideas. Of course, they knew that their source material was fiction.

I should get on my knees and pray that I don’t get fooled again. But I probably will.

*I missed the exposing of the hoax and would have remained ignorant of the truth were it not for Dan Ryan’s post in his blog Sociology of Information.

1 comment:

brandsinger said...

Jay -
Your analysis of the (now proved to be made-up) story was interesting and worthwhile. Much can be learned from deconstructing human interactions, wherever they occur, including in the minds of fabulists. Your discussion of values was of value.

Now if you would just recognize that every single one of your posts -- purportedly scientific and factual -- is just as unhinged from reality as the story of the gay Syrian, you would have learned something from your gullibility!

(Yes, yes, I know I swore off...)