Turning inner space into outer space

December 26, 2014

The Internet has a way of getting us to believe the unbelievable

Relax, folks — it's just a hoax. She's using a prosthetic.

As Internet hoaxes go, the woman who claimed to have three breasts was brilliant.

It was crazy enough that you couldn’t help but be curious, but not so crazy that it was totally inconceivable.

Alisha Hessler declared, back in September, that she spent $20,000 on surgery and consulted dozens of doctors in the process.

“I got it because I wanted to make myself unattractive to men. Because I don’t want to date anymore,” she told a radio station.

That’s an interesting take, given that the three-breasted mutant prostitute in 1990’s Total Recall was considered to be extra-sexy. The scene where she flashes her wares was reprised in the 2012 remake.

Anyway, Hessler — also known as Jasmine Tridevil — hoped her ploy would land a reality TV show, which doesn’t seem so far-fetched these days. And the idea of getting an extra implant? Well, there’s all kinds of surgery going on that would have been unimaginable 10 years ago.

So it was almost disappointing when the third boob turned out to be no more real than the bumps on Worf’s head. Still, we may not have heard the last of Ms. Hessler. She is apparently pursuing a singing career.

Hessler’s ruse has the dubious honour of being named the number one hoax of 2014 by the Washington Post. The 15-item list includes a number of gems, including another of my favourites — just for the sheer audacity of it — the parents who claimed they were kicked out of a KFC restaurant in Mississippi because the disfigured face of their young daughter was bothering the other patrons.

It turns out they weren’t even in the restaurant at the time they claimed to be. On the other hand, their daughter’s face really had been disfigured when she was mauled by pit bulls. Kind-hearted people overlooked the deceit of the girl’s parents and donated more than $100,000 for restorative surgery.

Hoaxes seem to work best when they align with our sometimes-warped preconceptions of the way the world really is. It’s not that much of a stretch to believe reality TV shows have got so out of hand that there might be one in the works about a woman with three breasts.

And when it comes to children, our society (thankfully) has an innate desire to rush to their defence wherever there is perceived injustice.

Expect more Internet hoaxes in 2015 as the line between truth and fiction continues to blur. You can keep on top of them by visiting Emergent — a website devoted to making sure that line doesn’t get too blurry.

Even now, there are stories circulating about a passenger being escorted off an American Airlines flight after he became angry over being repeatedly wished a Merry Christmas by the crew. It fits in nicely with the “war on Christmas” theme that gets people riled up, but there is no evidence to support it other than an unsourced brief in the New York Post.

And is it any stranger than the story about the guy who wound up in the hospital after winning an egg nog chugging contest in 12 seconds? That one was indeed true.