• Kate Wolford

Kate's Picks: "The Lying Disease"

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This week's pick: "The Lying Disease"

This week I’m recommending a 10-year-old long-form article at a well-respected but not very famous alternative weekly out of Seattle.

The article is called “The Lying Disease,” and at 4 a.m. on Nov. 21, 2012, it was published by The Stranger, and for that, I will be forever grateful. This very long and highly satisfying article explores the dark and pathetic world of people who fake illnesses online.

You may be thinking that such stories are old hat. After all, the online world is jaded as 2022 comes to a close. Everyone knows that some people lie, cheat, scam and steal with abandon online. Who cares about a story that’s 10 years old?

Well, fairy-tale retellings are pretty old hat by now too, but here we are. And you know that the allure of retellings is all about how the story is told. How the author picks scenes and words and burrows into the readers’ imaginations is what it’s all about. “The Lying Disease” reads like a thriller and is a perfect example of truth being stranger than fiction.

Cienna Madrid, the author of this jaw dropper, excavates the weird phenomenon of lying for attention so expertly, with such a deft touch, that you feel like you are reading about internet fakery for the first time. The extremes that women (it’s very often women) will go through to get people to empathize and support them (often for no financial gain) is astonishing, and the damage they leave behind is heartbreaking.

Don’t let the fact that people get hurt keep you away from this story. It’s not exploitative, and even though it’s 10 years old, it’s fresh as can be. In fact, I strongly suspect that this story, which got a lot of positive attention when it came out, is one of the standards for reporting about online manipulation and chicanery to this day.

Start reading it right now. I dare you. And I’m not lying, because this is the internet, and it’s such a truthful place to be. (Seriously, I’m not lying. Read it.)

Image is from the original story in The Stranger and is by Paul Hoppe.

Until next week, stay enchanted!


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