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Online suicide poster resurrected

Whitey back from the grave with some explaining to do

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Online anyone can be Jesus. Posters to the Counter Strike forum at Blueyonder were not in awe however when it became clear that a former colleague had come back from the dead.

Whitey - currently running under the name Ice Wind - caused some commotion last week when he disingenuously revealed that far from having committed suicide last summer, he had in fact been in the US and Czechoslovakia.

Amid much head-scratching and some fury, it turns out that the extensive postings from his brother Dan in July 2001 informing friends he had killed himself - even posting a suicide note - were nothing more than a sick joke. In fact, we even covered the story alongside another tale of faked online death as the real thing.

Now it seems Whitey's brother - charged by Whitey to keep everyone informed on where he was and how to keep in touch with him - had made the whole thing up because of some bitter sibling rivalry.

At least that is what Whitey claims. Why has he taken a year-and-a-half to tell old friends he isn't dead? Because he has only just got back from his travels. Why didn't he check the forum at any point and realise what was going on? Because he was annoyed that no one had emailed him. Where's his brother now? Hmmm.

Of course, a very similar thing happened just prior to Whitey's death on the Anandtech forum, when regular Dennilfloss admitted that he had killed his girlfriend and single mother Nowheremom. In a series of heart-rendering tales of woe, Dennilfloss went on about her death in a car crash and how upset he was. It sparked much grief and a tribute site.

Except as it turned out, Dennilfoss had created the character of Nowheremom to see what it would be like to post as a woman. Freaked out by others friends' flirtation with his alter-ego, he started going out with himself. Then, after some exhausting months of playing two roles, he got tired of it and killed her off.

Or what about Divi-Chan on the AnimeonDVD forum? That time her "sister" informed the world of her death, only for her to pop up later - after some significant prodding by other forum members - saying she'd made the whole thing up.

Posting under a pseudonym on an online chatroom enables you to be whoever you want to be. Play acting is a human character - we even revere those who spend their professional lives being other people, feeding off the buzz of being a personality other than ourselves.

We love drama and we love strong emotion - it makes life more exciting, more real. TV soaps are models of dysfunctional madness and we can't get enough of them.

Is it any surprise then that faced with the prospect on anonymity and a free hand, some people don't take the realms of fantasy into the real world?

Did Whitey pretend to be his brother to elicit some emotion from his online friends? To live out the common fantasy of being an observer at your own funeral? It seems all too probable. And after a year of keeping this to himself, had he grown so used to the idea that he was itching to tell someone the fun he had had?

Is his first posting that sparked the whole thing off embarrassment or excitement? You decide: "It's been fun, but back in uk now, money was gettin low :-( However, my bro made up a story while i was gone apparently, i never got a chance to come on here before i left, i just sent an email hastily....have u guessed yet? i was many a clan, sat, ecsf,rag,les :-) ..god i cant remember any more!"

Is his response to someone suggesting that he is actually his brother one of genuine frustration or something quite different? "Thats my last on the subject for the forums, i have better things to do with my weekend. People who matter and friends i have spoke to outside this forum, as stated in previous flaming thread."

The problem with online forums is that they cut a fine line between reality and fantasy. It may be harmless fun creating situations and people but the emotions created in others not in on the joke are all too real.

But perhaps those involved in chatrooms are only too aware of the fantasy role there are all playing. Incredible as it may seem, previous friends of Whitey have posted their eventual support - "it's great to have you back though" said one. Dennilfloss was soon forgiven. As was Divi-chan.

It's fair to say that even for those on the receiving end of such untruths benefit from a heightened state of emotion that you rarely experience in the outside, real world. And doesn't that, just for one day, make life that little bit more exciting? ®

Related links

Whitey dies
Whitey lives
Whitey faces the music
Whitey don't like the questions

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