Whilst scrolling through blogs, chats, discussion forums, and social media,
do you ever stop to wonder if the accounts you are viewing are actually
genuine? When you see surprising, embarrassing or highly personal content, does
it ever occur to you to ask yourself: Is this really true? Did that person
really post it?
For the last ten years or so, my social media has been hacked and I have been
the subject of numerous fake accounts and profiles that have been created to
sabotage my image, reputation, and relationships. Whilst this may sound like
self-obsessed, paranoid-crazy-talk to anyone that has never experienced
anything like that, a lot of people reading this will know exactly what I’m
talking about. In fact, many of them will know a lot more about what was going
on than I did, and in quite a few cases they will have been directly involved.
For a long time, I have chosen not to speak up publicly about the bullying and
abuse that I have experienced for various reasons.
Firstly, because to start with I didn’t know what was happening. For a long time,
I was completely unaware of the rumours and lies being spread about me and what
was going on online and in the fake chats and messages that were being sent
supposedly by “me”. However, over time I noticed that people began acting
strangely around me and their attitudes towards me had radically changed, but I
had no idea why. When I tried to talk to friends and colleagues about what was
going on, the reaction from most people was to simply deny that anything was
wrong. I continued to lose friends and be ostracized and ridiculed but when I
tried to find out why, I was told that I was being paranoid, over-sensitive,
self-absorbed “thinking everything was about me”, or that I was “imagining
things”. Some of these people may have had no idea what was going on, but in
many cases, they knew exactly what I was referring to and were intentionally
gas-lighting me. People were lying to protect themselves and others, or perhaps
in some cases, they naively thought that by repeatedly denying the truth of the
situation, they were somehow protecting me. However, by keeping me in the dark,
they denied me the opportunity to speak up and defend myself. How could I stop
what was going on if I didn’t know what was happening and where it was coming
Secondly, I knew that by speaking up, I would be drawing even more attention to
the embarrassing content that the perpetrators had created and risking even
more people seeing it. I had hoped that if I just ignored their behaviour, they
would get bored and it would eventually stop, however, as I now know, this
doesn’t necessarily work. When left unchallenged, this type of abuse escalates
and spirals out of control. The longer you ignore what is going on, the harder
it is to manage. The more rumours, gossips and lies that are circulating about
you, the easier it is for others to invent even more elaborate, scandalous
stories. In my experience, it seems that most people will believe almost
anything about you, as long as enough people have heard it. Plus, unless you
have proof or are actively trying to convince everyone that what they are
seeing and hearing is not true – which is impossible if you don’t know what’s
going on – people will simply believe it without question.
Thirdly, I didn’t want to waste my valuable time and energy on this type of
negativity. By focusing on something you give power to it. A few of my friends
recommended paying someone to investigate what was going on so it could be
stopped, but I decided against that option for various reasons. If someone is
intent on destroying your reputation on-line, fighting to find and remove
embarrassing content on the Internet is like trying to stop the Titanic from
sinking with nothing but a bucket to scoop up water and throw it overboard. I
could spend a fortune on discovering horrific content about me on-line that
could destroy my confidence, only for that to get deleted and for much worse to
spring up instantly somewhere else. Also, by then, I had pieced together enough
gossip and rumours, to have a fairly clear idea of what was going on and who
was behind it, so I didn’t really need to pay someone to tell me what I had
already guessed. The question was really whether or not I wanted to confront
the people involved and expose what they were doing. As we all know, abusive
bullies want a reaction, they love the drama of watching the lives of their
victims fall to pieces. Whilst I could not control what they were doing, I
could control my reaction to it. By denying them the satisfaction of seeing my
life implode, I was showing defiance and strength and not letting them win.
Lastly, once I realized the scale of the deception and how much time, effort
and “imagination” had gone into creating the fake accounts and malicious
content, it began to dawn on me that I was actually dealing with at least one
person with serious mental health issues and a viscous vendetta. Did I really
want to provoke a psychopath? Being ridiculed and defamed on-line and via chats
and WhatsApps is of course horrendous and life-changing, but did I really want
to go to war with someone who was clearly unstable and potentially dangerous?
Whatever evidence I could get as proof of their illegal and nefarious behaviour
would not lock these people up for long – realistically, it wouldn’t lock them
up at all – and I would have to spend the rest of my life watching my back.
Plus, the damage to my reputation had already been done, I had already lost a
lot of friends and professional opportunities over it, but I had survived with
my most important relationships intact and after a while, had managed to re-establish
my career. Yes, the lies persist, and the abuse continue even today, but it has
now faded into the background of my life like white noise.
I’ve learned to live with the fact that a lot of people believe things about
me that are simply not true. It’s frustrating and unfair but enough important
people now know the truth. Therefore, these days, when I am faced with
small-minded, gossipy idiots who make stupid comments or jokes based on
something they have seen or heard, I just assume they are f*wits and write them
off. In fact, it’s quite a useful filtering system, I can quickly see who is
worth my time and energy and who isn’t.
So, you may be wondering why I have decided to speak up now? Well, a few weeks
ago I noticed a new wave of strange comments being directed towards me. I find
that when this happens, it’s generally a sign that a new fake account has
“appeared” or that some juicy gossip is circulating about me. After a decade of
putting up with it, I’ve decided to make a stand. From now on, every time
someone insinuates something or acts inappropriately, I will politely ask them
what exactly they are referring to and explain the truth of the situation.
I am not delusional, and I won’t be the victim of gas-lighting any longer.
Quite frankly, I don’t care who believes me and who doesn’t. All I care about
is speaking my truth so that the next time someone sees something false about
me on-line, they may pause to wonder if it is actually true, instead of just
laughing and gossiping and sharing it with even more people.
I’ve lived in Spain for a long time now, and one of my favourite Spanish
sayings is this…
“El tiempo pone a cada uno en su lugar,
Cada reina en su trono,
Cada payaso en su circo,
Y cada fantasma en su castillo”
Time puts everyone in their place,
Every queen on her throne,
Every clown in his circus,
And every ghost in his castle.
So let this be a warning to whoever is behind this pathetic, vile campaign of hate and sabotage. Right now, I am happily perched on my throne, exactly where I should be, and I’m totally slaying it. Whoever is wasting so much precious time and energy on trying to destroy my image, reputation, relationships, and peace of mind is clearly not where they should be. Whether you end up in a circus, a castle, a prison, or a high-security psych-ward is completely irrelevant to me. What is tragic is that you are wasting your life away by trying to destroy mine. I pity you, and I pity the people who are so easily entertained by you, to be honest, I’m not sure who is more pathetic. Anyway, let it be known throughout the kingdom that you are officially banished from my realm!
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