In a previous post, Mary Arnett commented:
I found her complaint about the anonymous posting a bit hypocritical — and lot hysterical — given her penchant for using sockpuppet accounts for posting negative comments.
On the Intertubes, a sockpuppet is a fake account, created for deception. Sockpuppets often are used to gin up support for positions or people that are controversial or not widely supported.
In 2010, our neighborhood email list had a new person mysteriously appear named Susan Garcia (posting as hikerlover72 [at] yahoo [dot] com). Every once in a while, Susan would pop up to make some nasty comments about some neighbors or the association. The thing is, nobody had ever met or seen this mysterious Susan Garcia.
Let me tell you about my favorite Susan Garcia post. My wife was featured in an Austin Chronicle article about film-centric websites in Austin. The original article is here: http://www.austinchronicle.com/screens/2010-06-18/1042137/
Shortly after that article appeared in print, Susan Garcia sent the following gleeful taunt to the neighborhood mailing list:
From: Susan Garcia
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2010 13:33:13 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [NSCNA] Chip and Juliette in the Austin ChronicleHey Everybody!
Check out this article in the Austin Chronicle that just came out. It’s about the President of NSCNA and his wife. I wonder if they are disappointed that Oat Willies has moved further away from the neighborhood.
Excerpted from the Chronicle.
Jette Kernion is not a film school reject. Quite the contrary: She has a Master of Arts in screenwriting from the University of Texas and did a postgrad year on a Michener Fellowship (for what was then called the Texas Center for Writers). She knows her movies, sure, but just as important, she knows Austin’s movie culture. Her site, the aptly named Slackerwood, mixes local coverage – contributor Jenn Brown’s invaluable “2010 Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies in Austin” is plastered across the front of our refrigerator as we type this – with knowledgeable and spot-on reviews of both major studio releases and local productions. Slackerwood is, for our two bits, the best Austin-based/Austin-specific film site now going, and, as Kernion notes, it’s been going for a while.
Has Richard Linklater ever commented on the site’s name?
“Not really. He knows about it, because I’ve interviewed him. We’ve had some great comments when we do red carpet interviews, though. We had somebody say ‘Y’all sound like a bunch of pot-smokers!'”
My wife, naturally, received nothing but accolades from our neighbors for being written up so prominently. I guess that wasn’t the response poor Susan Garcia was looking for. Best I can figure, Susan thought the closing paragraph — an obvious joke — was a cause to taunt.
Throughout the year, the mysterious Susan Garcia would appear, sometimes with some inept criticism or attack, and often just reposting emails from Mary Arnett. We never had any proof, but all were pretty sure Susan was really a sockpuppet that Mary Arnett created.
The proof eventually came out when a neighbor sent an email to Susan Garcia, but the response came back from Mary Arnett’s account:
Sent: Thu, August 12, 2010 2:38:07 PM
Subject: Re: [NSCNA] New Article – Sustainable Neighborhoods Meeting, Aug. 17
I don’t know what you have been smoking, Lucky, but that park ain’t 7 acres. It might be big enough for chihuahua owners but not for me with my Great Dane. . . . .I’d rather the city spend their money on getting the sidewalks fixed, frankly.
If I remember correctly, I wrote to Susan Garcia asking if she was sharing email accounts, or if her account might have possibly been compromised. I never heard back from Susan Garcia. In fact, Susan Garcia was never heard from again.
If you ask around, the very favorite Mary Arnett sockpuppet has to be Mabel Jean Elliott. This one is a favorite not only for the name, but the image of the barking neighbor in the fabricated story she posted.
The first anybody heard of Mabel Jean was when she signed up to a neighborhood parents’ list, and posted this message:
Subject: Dog Problem/ People Problem on Rockwood
Hey Neighborhood Moms:
I signed up for this group a while back and have not introduced myself. I live at the Royal Orleans Condos and I have a new baby. I am writing this group because a friend of mine, Joann Xyz, at Xyzwood and Xyzwood reported a disturbing experience to me.
Someone on Primrose Ln is walking their daughter to school down Rockwood and walks beside Joanne’s house. Joanne’s dog (which is a small rat terrier type dog) runs out the doggie door and barks through the chain link fence at the little girl and this apparently makes the girl cry. The parents came and knocked on Joanne’s door and complained about the dog barking frightening their child.
Joanne is 86 years old and she just got out of the hospital with a very bad case of the flu. These people have become very irate with Joanne and I’m sure they just don’t realize how hard it is for an 86 year old woman to deal with a problem like this.
If the person who is doing this is on this list serv – please leave Joanne alone. She is not going to accomodate you by shutting her dog door because it’s open all the time – Joanne is in frail health. She reported that this person has come back from dropping her child off and then stood at the fence, barking like a dog herself just to intimidate the dog.
So who ever is doing that – please stop. If any of you know who is doing that please ask them to leave Joanne alone. Someday you will be old too, and then you will understand how it feels.
Mary, of course, knew who the concerned parent was. Rather than express her concern, she made up an outlandish story and posted it under a sockpuppet. The attack backfired. The group members rallied around the accused parent, and instead kicked Mary … I mean Mabel Jean … out of the group.
It might have ended differently if Mabel Jean — to paraphrase Mary Arnett — had put on her big girl panties and expressed her concern in a reasonable fashion, rather than posting a pseudonymous attack.