September 13, 2011

Internet relationships are not real. Your heart people steal but identities conceal.

AOL. America Online.

Every few days it seemed, a new cd would come in the mail. I'd take it dutifully to my father and beg him to put it on the computer. He would load the latest version and when he was done, the familiar voice would call out:

"You've got mail!"

My brother and I would climb onto the desk to check our email. I was barely 10, but being online soon became my favorite activity.

I would navigate through websites and chat rooms with ease. I didn't understand why my mother and father had problems with something that came so naturally to me. The mouse felt like an extension of me, one I never even knew was missing until we reconnected.

The internet seemed to call to me, to pull me in. I wanted to do nothing else but sit in front of the glowing computer screen. My parents would call from the other room:

"It's bed time now! Get off the computer! Say goodbye to your friends!"

"I'm coming, I'm coming..." I'd mumble back, not really having heard what they said.

Finally, my dad would come into the room and stand over my shoulder.

"Nothing good happens after 10 o'clock, in real life or online."

Every night an argument would ensue, and I was always on the losing end.

And he was right-nothing good ever did happen. I broke all of the internet safety rules my teachers and parents tried to instill in me

Don't talk to strangers? But they seem so harmless!

Don't give anyone my phone number? But how else am I supposed to talk to my new friends when you kick me off the computer at 10?

Don't share personal information? But they're my friends...

Without a second thought, I had become an online predators fantasy-naive and trusting.

I, like every teen, thought I was immune-Those horror stories on the TV surely won't happen to little old me.

And I got lucky. They didn't.

Only recently have I realized the danger I could have put myself in. And also recently, I learned my Dad was so very right-

"Nothing good happens after 10 o'clock, in real life or online."

This post is in response to a remembeRED prompt at Write on Edge-recall your early memories of being online.


Anonymous said...

Your father is a wise man. I should listen to him.

Being quite a bit older than you I can't fathom being online at age 10. Wow. But I can certainly understand the mouse being an extension of you. I may be old, but I'm as susceptible as anyone to the lure of the internet addiction.

Nice post.

Vapid Vixen said...

It doesn't seem like there's much parents can do anymore. If the kid is determined, they'll find a way.

Nancy C said...

That is such outstanding advice on so many levels. Your dad is wise indeed.

I like that while this piece happens to talk about technology, what it really discusses is something as old as time: conflict between children and adults. The push-pull between rebellion and protection.

Nicely done.

angela said...

It's funny, because I think every parent and child understands this dynamic, with or without the internet being the catalyst in the conversation. I can remember going through complicated shenanigans to talk on the phone, in my closet, well past the time I should have been talking on the phone.

Your father is wise :)

Galit Breen said...

I love this as me because I can so relate. I shudder thinking of the stupid things that i did!

But as a mom, oh my as a mom- this terrifies me.



Nona said...

I was as naive as my children were about the dangers of the internet. Thankfully, you had a wise and understanding Father to guide you. Beautifully shared.

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