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Plain Layne (and other fake bloggers)The big news in the blogosphere last week was the revelation that a blogger named 'Plain Layne' wasn't who she said she was. Of course if you, like me, had never heard of Plain Layne before, then the news didn't mean a whole lot. But the people who thought they knew her seemed genuinely shocked.
Plain Layne wrote about her life, and her life happened to be far more exciting and racy than the lives of most people, which is why she had a fairly large following. Jason Kottke has provided a great summary of some of her experiences:
In the past two years, Layne has discovered she's bisexual; fell in love with a Spanish go-go dancer; made room in her home for her cousin's pregnant girlfriend and now her newborn infant; met up with one of her birth parents for the first time; recounted a fling she had with a former boss (who had a girlfriend at the time); hinted at a rape she endured in Mexico (which turned her into a lesbian); charmed a straight woman co-worker into sleeping with her, becoming her girlfriend and then fiancee (!); broken off the engagement with said co-worker; frequently hooked up with one of the ex-fiancee's friends (another straight girl, if you can believe it); most recently slept with three women in the same week; and somehow, as all this was going on, held down a job at a large corporation working 80 hours a week managing a very successful IT group.
About a week ago Plain Layne's weblog disappeared and was replaced by some random text written in Polish. Faced with this vanishing act, her readers quickly realized that no one had ever laid eyes on her, and internet sleuths soon uncovered clues suggesting her non-existence. There's speculation that her weblog was actually some kind of group writing project... i.e. Plain Layne and all her adventures may have been the creation of many people.
At this stage in the life of the internet, I'm surprised that people feel so shocked and betrayed by this revelation. After all, what were they expecting? The phenomenon of bloggers assuming fake identities is hardly a new one. Here's a brief list of previous fake bloggers (or suspected fake bloggers) that I'm familiar with:
- Kaycee Nicole Swenson: a middle-aged woman who claimed to be a 19-year-old girl dying of cancer
- Belle de Jour: Claims to be a London call girl. Probably a writer who has never been a prostitute.
- Rance: Claims to be an a-list Hollywood celebrity. Probably not. Possibly an obscure cartoonist named Keith Thomson.
- Hot Abercrombie Chick: Claims to be an attractive young college co-ed. Probably a guy named Daniel Zeigenbein
- Flashman: LiveJournal weblog that ended abruptly accompanied by a (false) claim that the blogger had died rushing into the World Trade Center to save people on 9/11.
- She's a Flight Risk: Journal of a twenty-something woman who claims to have run away from her wealthy family and become an international fugitive. Widely suspected to be a hoax.
I'm sure there are thousands of other fake bloggers operating out there. But these are the most famous ones that I'm aware of.
Update: The real author of Plain Layne comes clean. She's a man.