I'm feeling a lot of guilt over "Facebook-stalking" a very dear online (furry) friend of mine. The temptation started after I realized that the email he initially used to contact me on a forum website contained his full real name, and from many late-night, hours long conversations, I knew enough about him that I was able to find his LinkedIn. From there, I jumped around a bit until I found his wife's Facebook, and then found his.
I've known him for over a year now, and in that time he's become my dearest friend, like a father to me (he's old enough, literally) and I call him my "Godfather" in acknowledgement of how he's guided my spiritual and personal growth. But still...I had lingering doubts after a messy breakup with a lying ex and my therapist telling me "a person can be anyone they want to on the internet." So...I did it, and after looking through his pictures and realizing he's exactly who he said he is...I feel really, really guilty about it. It's not like either of us tried to hide our identities, and I knew his first and middle names, and he knew a bit more but...this definitely feels like a breach of trust.
My conscience is complicated over this because I know things about him, and him about I, that would utterly destroy our lives if they came out. We're deeply intimate confidants, and the leverage I hold over him would make any break of friendship...disastrous. Sufficient to say, he'd lose his job and get ostracized by his wife and extended family, and I'd get murdered (literally) by my friends, if my parents didn't kick me onto the streets and shoot me first.
So basically...should I tell him? I've had other people tell me it's a bad idea, but, he's never spared me a single gritty detail of his life at all, and has been willing to provide anything I've asked for. I'm leaning towards "no," because this feels like a serious breach of trust, especially considering how gracious and open he is in entrusting me with what I know about him.
Still, I'm conflicted a bit, and I'm hoping you might sort my scattered thoughts.
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Short answer: no, don't tell him you spied on him. And don't discuss his personal life with others, please! I understand what you did because the Internet can be a scary place inhabited by many creepazoids. Sometimes one errs on the side of caution, but now that you know he was honest with you, hit the reset button. Be a good friend and confidant, and promise yourself never, ever to betray his trust again. You have found someone to whom you can confide, and even though he is more of the father figure here, trust me, he needs you, too, to be someone he can trust and talk about things that matter to him.
Part of being a good friend is maintaining confidences. We ALL have secrets in our lives, things in our past, about which we are not proud. But that doesn't mean we should be punished for them if we are striving to be good people. It is not always wise to tell the truth. When is that so? When doing so causes more harm than good. This is one such case. So, keep your muzzle shut, and be supportive.
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