I know what you're thinking. You think I'm about to go all Holden Caulfield on you and talk about phoniness and s***. But I'm not.
I literally mean people who are entirely fictional.
I'm a member of a motorcycle forum. Among this forum's participants are a brother and sister pair, their usernames logitech104 and logitech105. Cute, huh? Evan and Shelly.
They both have distinct personalities and are both well-liked.
Well, a day or two ago, Evan broke the news to us that Shelly had been involved in a motorcycle accident and he was on his way to the hospital to find out what was going on. Several hours later, he left one post saying that she had passed away. There was a gigantic outpouring of sympathy and immediate move by many forum members to gather donations for flowers and help with funeral costs to be sent to Shelly's family.
After a bit of back-end work to get the donations directed to the right place, those organizing the effort found out from Evan's father that there was no Shelly. She, and her death, were entirely fictional, presumably alter egos created by Evan.
I was totally floored. I had once encountered a false alter ego before on an IRC chat room. This alter ego was created by a grown man and used to sway the emotions (but never in an attempt to meet or abuse) of a young teenage girl.
This has led me to wonder if I have encountered any other completely fictional people online and how my emotions may have been tugged at by them. The case of Shelly is huge and Evan was able to evoke a lot of honestly deeply felt pain at her supposed death.
Furthermore, if we did know fictional people at some point, and we have been shaped by them one way or another without knowing it, is it necessarily a bad thing if you never find out?
My diagnosis; schizophrenia.