Let’s say you would happen to be browsing Facebook one night and saw this thumbnail of a picture posted on someone’s wall:
In itself, posting a graphic on your wall is not a big deal. But let’s say – hypothetically – that you then happen to read the caption of the graphic, and it read:
Hand drawn – all rights reserved. Do not copy.
Then you clicked on the picture and saw that once it’s been embiggified, there’s a not-so-subtle watermark on it.
Of course because I can Google shit, my first thought was “bullshit!”. I’m willing to bet it was your first thought too. Unless you thought that it’s a hand drawn watermark?
But being the nice friendly Canadian I am – balanced by the huge skeptic that I am – I had to say something, but something relatively polite and mild. So I wrote this comment under the “hand drawing” that went like this:
“Hey! What graphic program did you use to create this drawing?”
This reply came less than a minute later:
It’s not from a program, it’s done by hand.
So I just let it go. I figured that who cares if that person likes to pretend that she drew a picture by hand when she really just applied a filter. What difference does it make to me? No skin off my back, right?
It turns out that I have a fairly obsessive-compulsive thing going on, and I’m not really able to let go of things. It didn’t help that over the following weeks, that person kept posting all kinds of new “hand drawings” that were clearly done with the help of a computer program. I became literally obsessed by those “drawings”.
I also have a background in social sciences, which unfortunately means that I really really want to help people – even the ones that don’t want to be helped.
So I did what I do best. I asked questions until I got something that could put my mind at ease. My goal was not to catch the person in a lie – even though that would’ve probably been much more gratifying in the end – but to make that person realize why I thought she was using a computer, and ultimately make her realize that people were seeing through her game. I thought that if I could at least get her to admit that I wasn’t crazy for saying her “drawings” looked like photoshop filters applied on pictures, I would call it a day and move on.
You already know that’s not going to happen, right?
For a few weeks, whenever a new “drawing” was posted, I would ask questions about it in the Facebook comment section. How long did this take you to do? What medium did you use? Would you document the work in progress? How did you scan the drawing to your computer? I took it one step further and started commenting on other stuff she posted. When she posted lyrics of a song, I commented that I too loved that signer. I tracked down movie dialogue and literary quotes she posted as her own and commented on how much I enjoyed that movie or book.
Basically, all my comments said: “I’m watching you. I know what you are doing. You may be fooling hundreds of people, but not me!”. There was also a little of “Please stop being an idiot, people know we’re related”.
Finally after 9 “drawings” and a few posts, I received this private inbox message:
Just to be clear on the hand drawings: I do use a Wacom stylus to do them. In 2005, my right middle finger was broken in 5 places so I can’t hold a regular pencil anymore. The only photoshopped part is the watermark, and that’s done to protect my work. Since I use a stylus, they are really hand made drawings.
I immediately stopped posting on the person’s wall, and sent her a polite but frank email about the “drawings”. Basically I asked her point blank to send me the .psd file of one of her “drawings”. I got this:
Maybe for the next drawings. I never keep the electronic files as they take too much space on my computer. You’re funny, it’s like you’re the drawing inspector! LOL!
I told her that I wasn’t, but that I did work with Photoshop and computers in general for the last twenty years or so, and that I was pretty sure that I could recognize a filter when I saw one. I told her that I didn’t mind if her thrill was to apply filters to pictures, but that being told that it was a hand drawing bugged me a little (but apparently not her hundreds of Facebook Friends, who only had good comments to make on her talent). I also included this graphic in my reply, telling her I took 5 minutes of my lunch break to make it.
I concluded my email by saying: “Clearly, you can see where I’m coming from, right?”
Her reply came quickly.
I totally understand how you could be mistaken. Don’t you think that if I post them to Facebook saying they’re hand-drawn, it’s because I’m proud of having succeeded in making these? What would I have to gain by telling people I’m doing these by hand if I’m not?
It took me a good half hour just to think about what I was going to answer, or really if I was even bother to answer. In the end I went with a really long reply, that I will not post here. But basically, I offered these thoughts:
- Maybe it’s just something that started innocently by posting one filtered picture to your drawings folder. Then you started receiving positive feedback on your talent, so you didn’t want to disappoint your fans and basically painted yourself in a corner.
- Maybe you simply like the attention.
I then offered that this whole questioning thing had next to nothing to do with her, and all to do with me. You see, I question everything, so why not question that? However, I’m always willing to be proven wrong. So in the spirit of friendship and family, I offered to make the three and a half drive to her place with a nice bottle of wine and watch her draw for an hour or two.
I even offered to blog about how great of an artist she was, and promised to publicly apologize on her Facebook wall if she could prove me wrong.
When 24 hours passed without a reply, I figured the matter was settled. I had called her bluff and she couldn’t answer. Case closed, moving on. I refrained from any and all comments on her new “drawings” when she posted them. I had tried to help, and had failed. No sense beating a photoshopped picture of a dead horse.
See, I can totally joke about this. I even made the following images on my lunch break and had a good chuckle about it. They are some of her “drawings” overlaid on graphics I found on-line.
Well, that kept me busy for about 7 minutes.
Now flash-forward to yesterday night. I see this post in my Facebook timeline:
To all you guys who “sag” your pants and show your butt and underwear …did you know it originated in prison? It was a signal to the other MEN that you are “available”. So if you wanna keep going around looking like you’re “available” for another dude to “tap that” then keep thinking you’re cool while I think you look like a Fool!!! BTW it’s called – PBS (Prison B*tch Syndrome).LOL Pass this on to the droopy pants that you know.
Can you guess this is from the same person? So I did what I always do when I see people pass on false information or chain letters. I posted a comment basically saying “don’t post crap!” and linked to snopes.com.
That comment got deleted in less than a minute. Thinking that maybe Facebook didn’t like the included link – I had linked to a specific article – I commented again. Deleted in less than a minute once more. That made me suspicious… Sure enough, I discovered that all the comments I ever made on any posts on that person’s wall had been deleted. I could sort of understand that, saving face and all. But surely this comment was something different… Why delete it?
So I reposted my comment on my wall, tagging that person in the comment.
“For those of you who didn’t have the chance to see my comment on (person’s name)’s wall before it got deleted…”
That comment was “liked” in less than 10 seconds by that person. Interesting. Thinking that it really was a link problem – I mean why would someone delete a comment from their wall and then instantly like the same comment on my wall – I made my way to her wall to leave a simple comment without any link and was greeted with this gem of a post:
What if I post that I have blonde hair, blue skin and live in a mushroom? Would you call me out on this too? What difference does it make to you? If you don’t agree with what I post, just hang up and go to the next caller. If you’re looking for an excuse to come to my house with wine, you should be mature enough to just come over without having to make up a whole story to justify doing it.
I am now convinced this person truly believes the reality she constructs. I mean seriously, how do you go from a polite version of “I think you’re a fucking liar” to “I’m looking for an excuse to go visit you”? You that I saw last time about 12 years ago for 5 minutes when I dropped off some clothes for your kids at your place. You that in those 5 minutes, asked me for 100$ and a television set.
The worst part of this is that I now realize that some people are just beyond any kind of help. And honestly, isn’t this the saddest thing you’ve ever heard? I know it’s number two on my all-time list.
Because really, nothing can be sadder than learning that I’m related to La Schtroumpfette.