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I feel this sudden urge to prove I really exist…

Do one thing every day that scares you.
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts.
Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
–Mary Schmich, “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen”

I want to prove I really exist, and I’m trying to figure out how I can do it. What are the tell-tale signs of a hoax? Lack of pictures and a claim of hating to have your picture taken. Well, I hate having my picture taken. Gatermann’s got an album full of pictures of me holding my hands in front of my face. He collects ’em or something. I know of four pictures of me floating around on the Web, total, and two of them were scans off newsprint.

Another sign: Lots of people claiming to have talked to me via e-mail or even over the phone, but not in person. Dan Bowman and I have talked a lot, and I consider him a close friend. Other Daynoters or Webloggers? Tom Syroid and I used to talk on the phone. But that’s it. I’ve had conversations over e-mail with Doc Jim, and with JHR, and with Matt Beland, and with Brian Bilbrey. But who’s seen me in person? Well, Steve DeLassus and Tom Gatermann, both of whom I claim to have known for more than 10 years, but I could have fabricated them too.

Debilitating problem? Well, carpal tunnel syndrome is very small potatoes compared to leukemia, but it is a death sentence for a writer. I disappeared for about six months over it.

Really, it’s pretty hard to prove I’m not a hoax. I can link to my old writings from college that are online, circa 1996, (I published under “Dave Farquhar” in those days) and of course there’s that O’Reilly book and those Computer Shopper UK articles. Those will establish a consistency of writing style. My relatives that I mention don’t Weblog, and their writing styles are pretty distinct from mine–both my mom and sister are pretty good writers but I’ve got a lot of quirks they don’t. And neither have made many appearances on these pages.

I’m going to hold back a lot of personal details, because someone I hadn’t spoken to in about 10 months freaked me out back in January and, after reading my weblogs in their entirety, recited to me virtually every detail of my life based on what I’d written and a few educated guesses. Some of the details were wrong, but not enough of them were.

But if anyone really wants to check, I was born in Kansas City, Mo. I lived a lot of places, but most notably in Farmington, Mo., from 1983 to 1988, and in Fenton, Mo., from 1988 to 1993 (and I continued to call Fenton my home through 1996 when I was in college). I graduated from Lutheran High School South, St. Louis, in 1993. I graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia, with a degree in journalism (no minor) in 1997. I was employed by the University of Missouri in 1997 and 1998, so I’m even listed in the 1998 issue of the Official Manual of the State of Missouri. All of this should be pretty easily verifiable.

Or you can just take me at my word. It comes down to honesty, and futility. Why would anyone hoax a 20-something systems administrator? And why would they publish a book and a bunch of magazine articles under my name? It would be pointless. A pile of computer tips isn’t a compelling enough story to fake.

So what is compelling? A struggle. This past weekend’s struggle with a system upgrade showed I was human and don’t really care if people think I’m a computer genius or not. I guess that’s kind of compelling, because most of us can’t get our computers working quite right. Netscape cofounder Marc Andreesen endeared himself to thousands when he admitted in a magazine interview that his home PC crashes a lot and he never did get his printer working right. But an underdog is better. Noah Grey is a whole lot more compelling than me, because we’ve all felt a little shy sometimes, so his agoraphobia is something we can somewhat relate to. He can reach out to the world and we can share a little in his struggle and root for him. And Kaycee Nicole Swenson, well, she was just too good to be true–a 19-year-old who was wise and mature well beyond her years, a great writer, insightful, broken-hearted, sincere… Every male over 35 wanted her to be his daughter. As for the males under 35, she’d have made a great kid sister. But I suspect a good percentage of them would have wanted to date her, or someone just like her.

I don’t remember if this was exactly how she put it, but an old classmate once observed that the Internet allows us to safely pick our friends from a pool of millions, and usually we can find people who at least seem to be a whole lot more interesting (or better matches for us) than the people we can meet face-to-face, and we can quickly and painlessly get new ones and dispose of them on a whim. She wrote those words in 1997, but aren’t they a perfect description of Kaycee and the rest of the Weblogging phenomenon?

Steve DeLassus raised an interesting point this afternoon. He asked why a 19-year-old dying of leukemia or complications from leukemia would weblog at all. Wouldn’t she have better things to do? That’s an honest question, but I know if something like that were happening to me, I’d weblog. It’s cathartic, for one thing. When I was struggling with depression, I wrote about it in my newspaper column. I found it a whole lot easier to just pour my heart and soul into my word processor than to talk to someone about what I was feeling. I needed to get it out of my system, but you never know how people are going to react. When you can detach yourself from the words, it doesn’t matter. Some will scoff, but you won’t know. Some will totally understand, and you won’t know. Others will totally get it, and they’ll reach out to you, and then it’s all totally worth it. You know there’s something to them, because they had to make an effort to find your words, probably, and then they had to make an effort to communicate with you. You find special people that way.

Yeah, it’s kinda selfish. But it’s safe, and when you’re vulnerable, you need safe.

I’ve given zero enlightenment into the whole Kaycee Nicole hoax. I know a lot of people are hurting. I never got attached to her, because I only read her a couple of times a month. Over the weekend, I went back to Week 1 and started reading from there, to see what I missed. I guess I figured catching the reruns was better than missing it entirely. And I started to understand her appeal a bit more. And now I understand the hurt. It’s not nice to play with people’s hearts.

And some people will probably put up their walls and vow never to be hurt that way again. It’d be hard not to blame them.

But I hope they don’t. Because the only thing worse than the feeling after someone played with your heart is the feeling of being alone.

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19 thoughts on “I feel this sudden urge to prove I really exist…”

  1. Yep, Dave’s a real person. I see him nearly every business day at work since I’m his cubicle neighbor. I can attest to his knowledge of computers, alternative music, the bible, and baseball. Although I don’t think he’s an alien abductee replacement (for you X-Files fans), David is a normal, single, American guy. For you normal, single, American girl’s interested in such a guy, I’ll try to use my influence. Call 555-1896 ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Went over to Gatermann’s weblog site ( to check out this claim of actual photos of the mythical "Dave." I then stumbled across the "clog dancing" photo and had to go wash my eyes out with industrial solvent… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    /me screams in agony, "get it out of my braaaaaain!"

  3. I must agree with David Huff, that clog dancing photo is….well… I’ll chip in a few bucks to remove it…any takers? It gave me nightmares ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. I’ve been hoarding that picture for years for blackmail purposes. Drat and dreck, Gatermann. You would have to post it! Now I’ll just have to hold on to the hair loss simulation picture…

    Steve (a figment of Dave’s imagination, who is a figment of Murel’s. And Murel may not even be real…)

    j/k. I know Dave is real because he turns my dog into a destructive raving lunatic. I’d call it a gift except that I have to clean up the mess. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I’ve been trying to get Gatermann to burn that blasted thing since he trotted it out about six and a half years ago. None of my efforts have been successful, so it may take a couple of big guys named Vinny and Guido knocking on his door.

    Of course he thinks it’s hilarious.

    As for Murel’s assertions that I’m normal, well, he obviously doesn’t know me well enough. But I think Gatermann presents an, ahem, distorted picture. And that phone number Murel gave is bogus.

  6. So far I haven’t written about the whole Kaycee fiasco since I’m still processing everything in my mind. I don’t what to be cynical Something like this makes it hard to not be cynical.

  7. Oh, and regarding that picture. Is that real, or was it Photoshopped? Sounds like something the MetaFilter crowd ought to check in to.

  8. Hey, i work with Murel and I can verify that he’s real, but he’s also a liar. Dave doesn’t really work in the cubicle next to Murel, just like Dave doesn’t really work across the aisle from me. He’s a figment of our imagination. There’s just some crazy lunatic out there writing computer advice posing as Dave.

    Ok, just kidding. Dave is real and I have a book about speeding up Windows in my car to prove it.

  9. I’ve been hoarding that picture for years for blackmail purposes. Drat and dreck, Gatermann. You would have to post it! Now I’ll just have to hold on to the hair loss simulation picture…

    Steve (a figment of Dave’s imagination, who is a figment of Murel’s. And Murel may not even be real…)

    j/k. I know Dave is real because he turns my dog into a destructive raving lunatic. I’d call it a gift except that I have to clean up the mess. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I assume you’re talking about the handful of Kaycee pictures floating around? Saundra Mitchell ( observed that some of them appeared to be Photoshopped, and that some of them have different colored eyes. I’ve only seen the banner, the picture imposed in the star, and what appears to be the color original the star picture was cropped from. I didn’t pay any attention to the eye color, and the pictures I saw were certainly edited in Photoshop, if only for cropping, but it’s not like I zoomed in on them to do any analysis myself.

    Photoshop tip: Any picture scanned in from a magazine will have a certain degree of cross-hatching in it, since published photos are comprised of tiny dots. A decent scanner will compensate for that, but if you zoom in on such a photo, it won’t be as smooth as a photo scanned from a print. Compare my photo above (scanned from a newspaper) to the photos on Gatermann’s site using Photoshop’s zoom functions to see the difference.

    Unless you’re referring to the picture of me in clogs. That’s real. I’ve even seen the original. Gatermann also snapped a picture of another friend wearing those clogs on a treadmill…

  11. Dave,

    Dear god, those clogs are awesome. I’ll have some of what he took!!!

    I think I might have started the nasty rumor you dont exist. Sorry about that, chief…


  12. I was absolutely stone-cold sober and drug-free when that picture was taken. At most, I’d had some caffeine. I gave up caffeine during freshman year of college, but I don’t remember if that picture was taken before or after my freshman year.

    For more on the Kaycee bit, see — the author, Bob Sullivan, was a grad student at MU when I was there, and he taught my editing (Journalism 110) class.

  13. Yes Dave, I think I am hilarious. But deep down you know you love that photo! Besides, I take horrible photos of all my friends. As for Vinny and Guido, well you know I can take care of them easy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    The photo is original. Except for the green color, I did that. They are originally yellow. Heck I can’t even check to see which one I posted since isn’t working at the moment. Drats.

  14. Oh and I’ve got lots more photos of Dave, but there all packed away for my move at the moment.

  15. Ah…it seems that this is the original photo I have up. There are a couple floating around with the clogs green.

    I’d like to thank all of you for stopping by and looking at the photo, you have made my day, and you have really made Dave’s day! ๐Ÿ™‚ He may never forgive me! Hee hee!!

  16. I could also attest to the fact that Dave does, indeed, exist. If any of you have questions that only a mother could answer, pass them along. I’ll give them my best shot.

  17. If you anyone gets around to scanning some more great ‘Dave’ pics, everyone that he works with would really love to see them.

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