When I was pregnant with my son I joined a mailing list comprised of moms-to-be, all due within the same month. More than 11 years later some of us are still friends and keep in touch via facebook.
As we got close to our due dates, one of the women delivered much too early and her baby died. It was incredibly sad and frankly it was terrifying for the rest of us. Imagine being big with child and hearing that one of your confidants was suddenly no longer pregnant and had lost her child. It was awful.
Over time the rest of us delivered healthy babies and continued to share our lives. We talked about the sleep deprived days of early motherhood, the coos and urps of our infants. After a year passed some became pregnant again and we all shared in the joys of subsequent pregnancies. The woman who had tragically lost her infant -- lets call her Sarah -- was pregnant again and we were all overjoyed. Some of the pain of her loss would be soothed by the birth of a healthy infant, surely.
One day there was terrible news. Sarah had another miscarriage. What are the odds? How horrible! The poor woman! As some of the (clearly naive) members of the group began to pull together a care package we were contacted by a trusted member of our group who had done some research. Apparently Sarah was a very disturbed woman. She had, in fact, lost a baby late in pregnancy -- years before. Since then she had been trolling the pregnancy boards and faking the death of her "baby" when in fact she wasn't even pregnant. She did this over and over, victimizing various groups of women over a period of years.
I learned a few lessons from this experience. First and foremost there are sad broken people out there. People lie and deceive others and they inflict pain for their own selfish and sick reasons. The internet makes this kind of griefing incredibly easy to do. I also learned I am more trusting than is probably appropriate. I believe the stories people tell me until I am given a reason to disbelieve. This is probably not the smartest or most self-protective way to be when one has an online life, but it is part of who I am. (Griefers and con artists please take note: I will not help you move your father's estate out of Nigeria.)
It doesn't take much to figure out it is my nature to take people as they present themselves in SL. If you say you are a warrior princess when in reality you are a geeky guy in your mama's basement I really don't care. Circumstances outside the bounds of our relationship are not of concern to me. We are all entitled to privacy and if that includes keeping your RL a mystery to your SL friends I respect that choice.
The events of the past few days got me thinking and I recalled my experiences with Sarah. In pondering RL/SL death I have come to believe personal privacy trumps the need for others to know what is "true." I prefer to trust people and chance being burned now and then rather than go through my days fearful, cynical and jaded.