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Ask Todd Parker - Jan. 23, 2013

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Dear Todd Parker,

I'm currently going through some pretty serious stuff in my social life; it's like nothing in my world makes any sense anymore. My whole life has been turned into a circus. I don't know if there's anyone left I can trust except you.

So I met this girl online. She was really cute and seemed super nice. We started chatting online through stuff like Facebook and Twitter. It was like she liked me for me, you know what I'm saying? From there, we started talking on the phone every once in a while. We hadn't met yet or anything, but we both have really busy schedules with school and everything, so I totally understood.

But then things got tragic. She was in a bad car accident that put her out of commission for a while. Then it turned out that she had cancer. It was awful; I didn't know what to do. I just wanted to see her, but she wanted me to honor my commitments. I did what she wanted because I loved her so much and wanted to be a good boyfriend.

She passed away in September the same day as my grandma and I was heartbroken. People kept asking about her, so I'd tell them the story. I may have exaggerated some details, just because it felt weird to tell them that I'd never met her. Things kind of took on a life of their own.

Then last month, someone told me that my girlfriend wasn't even real. She was an imaginary person invented by some guy. It was all made-up. I was in love with someone who never existed.

How can I keep this from becoming the defining moment of my life? What can I do to move on? How can I trust again? What do I do?

Sad in South Bend


Dear Sad,

Dear, sweet, innocent Manti. You poor son of a gun.

We live in a world full of deception. As a fairly prominent person, you are an even bigger target for that deception than most of us. It's no surprise that someone looking to take advantage would gravitate to you; you're a pretty trusting, nave kind of kid.

But seriously, dude did you do any vetting at all?

Passing judgment is kind of what I do, and all I'm seeing here is red flag after red flag. I know love is blind and all that happy crappy, but didn't it ever strike you as odd that you never actually got to meet this chick who was supposedly so in love with you? It's the internet, man half of what goes on there is designed to scam the other half.

'But why would someone do this?' is a question I'm sure you've asked. The answer is almost always 'Because they can.' A culture of trolls has been cultivated online especially within the generation that doesn't remember a time without the internet. They live in a world where online words and deeds are consequence-free and they're mostly right.

Are you an idiot? Absolutely. But what you need to do is learn from this experience. For instance, that friend request from 'Girl McGirlton' should probably be ignored. Also, characters from television shows probably aren't girlfriend material. People aren't always what they seem to be. Does that suck? Yes. Yes it does. But that's the world we live in, my friend.

I leave you with this, paraphrased from my good friend Shawn Corey Carter: 'If you're having girl problems, I feel bad for you son/ I got 99 problems but an imaginary internet construct ain't one.'

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