Over time I had a presence; I posted and responded to others through message boards; I had my own page on one of those early Community Connect ‘social’ networks (now known as InteractiveOne). This was the ‘MySpace of the day’. Customization was done with HTML tables and div tags. CSS was virtually an unknown language, at least at the time.
I was intrigued about ‘the source code’. Right clicking became the norm when surfing. I wanted to learn how a page was being built. You learn a whole lot faster when you are young. That’s why nowadays I am not surprised to know that a 9 year old can build her own site. HTML is easy. The Title of a webpage in HTML language is written as <title>This would be the title</title>
One day in college my roommate mentioned to me about this new site called facebook. ‘It’s for college students only so you have to sign up with your college email account’ Meanwhile, in my yahoo inbox I kept getting invites from friends for hi5, Bebo, xanga, classmates, YouTube, flickr, Yahoo!Groups, google groups, and then MySpace. Our college even launched its own BlackBoard, an online portal to connect students and teachers to their courses. Everything seemed easy and fast then. I was connected in every single way to the entire world. I even did my banking online. The internet was safer than walking down the street to the ATM at night! The only people that I actually ever really talked to, in traditional communication channels, were my parents.
Finally, I gave in to the pressure and decided to sign up for a MySpace account. Everyone was doing it, and all my friends kept talking about who was on there and what they were doing. It was like the popularity contest for the cyber world. Gossip is posted openly in comment areas. Everyone sees quickly how many friends you have in your network. Photos of you splattered everywhere: Halloween party ’06; at home with the family; out dancing; having dinner; photos from the mobile nokia –and then came the iphone; calendar of events, even your own very section for a blog. Uploading became faster and easier too as technology improved on sites like MySpace and so everyone posted even more pictures, and homemade video clips were sooo easy to embed you didn’t even have to know a tag of html! YouTube became a phenomenal and at one point MySpace banned the posting of YouTube videos on their pages. That created an outrage, and after time they quickly allowed it again.
Being a part of social networks was like being a part of an exclusive club. You knew you were ‘in’. It seemed like everyone’s entire life was being consumed by this new fad. Friend’s upcoming birthday parties. Friends tagging you in photos that you never wanted to show up online. Invitations to the night club with scandalous half naked models looking provocatively at the camera. It was like unwanted spam that you couldn’t get rid of, like when you’re out late at night with the girls clubbing and return to your parked car only to find postcards and flyers stuck on your windshield wipers. Quizzes with 10 question and answers, like the old email chain letters, except now it was being labeled as a ‘bulletin’ post where everyone on your list of friends could see it the instant you submitted it. Everything was there for everyone to see.
Once I got close to 1,000 friends I started to think, did I really have 1,000 friends who I talked to daily, weakly, or even yearly? But they wanted to be my friend.. or so at least I thought. The requests kept coming. Do people just sit at their computer every day and click the request button on every profile they run across? Everyday my page was getting hundreds of hits from all over the world from people I had never even met or spoken to. For a minute I thought, maybe there are too many people viewing what I was doing, so I decided to set my page to private. First I had to figure out how to change my settings in the jumble mess of links that MySpace keeps hidden in the corners. MySpace is the worst designed social network ever. Most people are not Designers so I guess that’s ok for them. People get used to looking at sites like MySpace, and Amazon, so they think it’s acceptable.
One day, I got a request from a person who seemed –not so bad looking. His ‘location’ was listed as local. He looked my age. Maybe we’d meet up to hang out? He mentioned. Not thinking twice about it, I clicked the ‘accept’ button.
This entry is the first of several entries to come about becoming the victim of a cyberstalker, and how I was able to help myself and law enforcement, track down the stalker. Currently, the cyberstalker is being charged in a criminal case for his malicious actions, and so I cannot disclose certain information at this time.
If you would like to be posted on the next entry, please subscribe to this blog through rss. To learn more about how to prevent cyberstalking, please click here. If you are currently being cyberstalked and would like to seek more help, then please report the incident using this form and contact your local authority and their Internet Crime unit department for immediate assistance.