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Burn All the Letters

The question still remains - who was the girl in the pictures?
Drama in the blogging world is infrequent, but when it happens, it really cooks. Not surprisingly, by the way. After all, when you have a favorite blog, you check it regularly – maybe every day, maybe even a couple times a day. You become emotionally invested at some point – and that’s all the more true if the blogger in question writes well – and writes about his or her personal life. There’s a reason people watch soap operas, right? Blogging can be just like that – you tune in from the safety of your own computer to find out what happened to Blogger X over the weekend – or whether Blogger Y had her baby yet – or whether Blogger Z ever got that promotion. It’s addictive.

One of the biggest shared blog addictions around was Plain Layne. Plain Layne, a self-described “infowaif” living near the Twin Cities and working from sunup to sundown at a mid-size multinational referred to only as “Minicorp,” was a blogger’s dream. She wrote amazingly well – startlingly well, in fact. All the time. At the drop of a hat – sort of like when the kids at the School of the Arts in Fame would burst into spontaneous, choreographed dance in the cafeteria.

[Indigo Girls lyrics = 63]

We loved her for it. When I say “we,” I mean the zillions of people who flocked to Plain Layne’s site to get a daily fix. There was something there for everyone – Layne worked in corporate America, but she was still young enough and hip enough to thumb her nose at conventional cube-farm life. She was promoted again and again – sometimes with the help of the Machiavellian ex-boyfriend who ended up being her direct boss at Minicorp. She pulled all-nighters, created Power Point miracles, and worked budgeting magic – all while being able to communicate and play games with her tech-team “ninjas.” In her off-time, she searched for her biological family, recovered from a bad romance with an old flame, cycled through therapists, went to Spain, met a go-go dancer and discovered her own bisexuality, failed at a long-distance relationship, but maintained the girl-girl yearnings, had an ill-advised, drunken fling with her roommate’s boyfriend, moved out, bought a house, took up with a co-worker and moved her into the house, took on the responsibility of providing a home and family for a deadbeat cousin’s pregnant ex-girlfriend, continued to provide a home for the ex-girlfriend & baby, got engaged to the co-worker girl, bought her expensive gifts, broke up with co-worker girl, took up with co-worker girl’s 19-year old goth friend, took up with the food service girl at Minicorp’s cafeteria, took up with some crotch-rocket-riding girl in Chicago…you still with me? All through the drama, Layne was funny, eloquent, interesting, and, in certain posts, pornographic.

Some of us were certain she was too good to be true. Courtney figured she was probably a 40-year-old male shut-in, writing away in the basement of his mother’s house, trying to finish his research for a dissertation on gullible internet communities. I hoped she was real – but could never really understand how her life was even remotely feasible. Or why anyone would really share the sordid details of her sordid sexual encounters on the internet. Something about Layne seemed off – it reminded us both of someone else we knew whose life was also drama-filled – and false.

And now it appears that we were right. Layne never existed. I mean, she existed as a blog person – but she never existed in real life. A couple of weeks ago Layne’s site disappeared. No explanation. And that got the mouse wheels turning in the collective brain of the Plain Layne community. An Orkut group was formed to discuss Layne’s disappearance. Similarities to another blogger who suddenly disappeared from the blogosphere were discussed. People re-built Plain Layne’s site from their own archived internet caches. Leads were followed – what was Minicorp anyway. If Layne’s ex-girlfriend really played in an all-female ska band in Minneapolis – we should be able to find that, right? Layne says she lives in Woodbury, MN – anyone have access to property records? Is Layne in the Conservatory with the candlestick? A new site sprang up to discuss the mystery. And in the end, the mystery is solved. The culprit confesses. [Update: the culprit also requested that the rebuilt Plain Layne archive site be removed…and it was. So now there really is no more Plain Layne.]

Do we feel stupid? Do we feel hoodwinked? Nah. I mean, it’s a little embarrassing to get all wrapped up in a fake person’s life (Layne is one of my Friendster peeps, for pete’s sake) and this may still be another trick-within-a-trick – but I think in the end – even if you got taken for a ride – you just have to appreciate the fact that at least the ride was a lot of fun. And now it’s over.

{ 2 } Comments

  1. karen | June 25, 2004 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Damn liars.

  2. Miranda | June 25, 2004 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I’ll miss “her” – that’s for sure. Now who’ll supply my daily dose of inappropriate blogging? Maybe Courtney and I will have to up the ante here…

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