Blogging in E minor
Usually just a bunch of silly crap.

I Was a Facebook Spy

“That little shit!” my wife exclaimed.

            Our daughter’s beaming visage stared back at us defiantly from her Facebook profile pic. Surely, this must be a  look-alike who coincidentally had the same name, I thought,  for Bernadette was not allowed to have a Facebook account.

            Her wall was quite telling. We discovered that she was “in a relationship” of some sort.  We could infer from the times she had posted comments that she had been playing around on fb while I was in the shower that morning – which would eventually cause to her to be tardy – and while she was in school that day.

             The needle on the Trust-O-Meter took an abrupt and drastic dive to the left. 

            We were also surprised that during one month’s time, our 14-year-old daughter had accumulated more “friends” than my wife and I put together. Some of these kids were people whom we preferred she not associated with, like the girl from the trailer park down the street who had just been arrested for shoplifting. We were also put off by some of the language: “Guys r fuckin hot!”

            Most disturbing, however, was the fact that nothing was protected by the site’s optional security settings. Everything was all out there for the entire world to see.

            “She is SO dead,” my wife proclaimed.   

            Unlike most of her peers, Bernadette has been relatively sheltered from technology. She was one of the few kids on the block who did not own a cell phone. Bernadette needed our permission to use the family computer, which was located in the basement rec room outside of my office. She was not permitted to join social networking sites, and she rarely used the Internet without our supervision. With her now attending high school, we had become less stringent regarding her use of this computer. She simply needed it more.

            My initial instincts were to put off confronting Bernie. This was quite an eye-opening experience, and I wanted to learn more. Felicia, my wife, was fuming mad and about bursting out of her skin; nevertheless, I convinced her to resist the temptation to march upstairs to throw the evidence into Bernadette’s face.

            “This might be a blessing in disguise,” I continued. I recalled attending a seminar for new high school parents where the speaker warned us about the potential pitfalls related to technology facing the youth of today. She told how some parents had created bogus social networking profiles and befriended their children, thereby monitoring their online activities.

            So I went to work creating a fake fb identity.

            Step 1. Make up clever name: Jerry Mander. Check.

            Step 2. Upload cute boy profile pic. Check.

            Select a local school NOT attended by my daughter or her friends, but indicate the same cohort year. Check.

            Birthdate. . . uh,  one day after Bernie’s, defo an item for conversation. Check.

           Status: Single, looking for friends, dating or a long-term relationship (exactly what my daughter had selected).

            Interests, music, movies and books chosen with the right mix of similarities and differences to my daughter’s. Vampires are a given! Done.

            Next came friends. I invited kids from Bernadette’s friends list, being careful not to pick people with whom she had regular contact. I didn’t want them talking to each other and figuring out that nobody ever heard of this Jerry guy. I also sent a friends request to my 14-year-old nephew just to keep an eye on him. Finished. Welcome to Facebook, Jerry Mander!

            Before I went to bed, I checked my fraudulent account. My nephew had already accepted my friends request at about 11:30 pm, mind you. What was he doing up so late on a school night? Hmmm. Let the games begin!

            The following day, my wife and I checked Jerry’s fb page in our bedroom when I got home from work, utilizing our recently installed wireless router.

            We were amazed! Bernadette and several others had already accepted my friend requests. A few had also sent requests to me as the result of the “friends suggestion” feature that innundated users with up to 40 suggestions at a time. Perhaps they didn’t know the difference between a request and a suggestion, I thought. Nevertheless, teenagers were recklessly befriending this cute boy who was, in fact, a 40-something-year-old man.

            Sadly, many of Bernadette’s “friends,” most of them 14- to 15-year-old girls, felt the need to take pictures of themselves in skimpy little outfits and plaster cleavage shots of themselves all over the web. FB Teen Edition was a fertile trolling ground for pervs, I would discover.

             We also noticed that Bernadette had logged on at various times during the school day, raising concerns about the school’s Internet filters, assuming there were any.

            Suddenly, the words “I can’t believe I have detention already!” popped up on Bernie’s wall.

            Jerry summoned her via Instant Messenger. “What did you get detention for?” he (I) asked.

            The reply: “Skipping Spanish class.”

             It was difficult restraining Felicia, who wanted to immediately run downstairs and confront her. Instead I concluded the brief IM conversation. I finished with “I need 2 bolt. My parents think I am doing homework.”

            “Mine 2,” she returned.

            Later, we told Bernadette that a teacher had emailed us about the detention. Unfortunately, it was a social networking site, rather than the school, that had made us aware of our daughter’s in-school misdemeanors.

             Meanwhile, the friend requests poured in. Jerry was becoming very popular it seemed.

            The next day, I came up with an idea. . . .  

            Like most parents, I had always wondered how Bernadette would react if she were confronted with a dangerous situation. Would she get in a car with a stranger?  Could she be duped into meeting up with an Internet perv posing as a kid? We’ve always taught Bernie what to do in situations like these. She’s seen television sting operations like “To Catch a Predator.” Teachers and police alike have always done their part at to educate students to the dangers of the world and what to do to protect themselves. She had heard all the stories about children who had been abducted – some came back alive, while others did not. Exactly what kind of choices would she make if she were placed in such a situation?

            After dinner, my wife and I announced that we were going to take a nap and instructed Bernadette to get started on her homework. Shortly after booting up my laptop in our bedroom, we saw Bernie’s pic pop up among Jerry’s online friends. She wasted no time going downstairs and logging onto fb.

            I greeted her via Instant Messenger: “Wuz up?”

            After a few introductory remarks, Jerry announced: “Im going 2 MegaBurger with my cousin. I love MegaBurger!”

            “I live down the street from MegaBurger,” Bernadette revealed.

            “Wanna meet up with us?” Jerry asked.

            “When?”

            “15 mins.”

            Waiting for the reply seemed like an eternity. We could tell she was typing on the other end – slowly – as we awaited her crucial, telling response.

            Pop! “I’ll ask my parents if I can go up to MegaBurger to get a soda while I’m doing my homework.”

            OMG! Then came her last chance for redemption, one last chance to spot the obvious red flags waving behind the cute face in the little IM dialog box.

            “Don’t tell your parents,” I typed in.

             We waited. Gosh she types slowly!

            “Why would I tell my parents?” Bernadette replied, “they don’t even know I’m on Facebook.”

            “I’ll see you soon!” I wrote back, just before going into stealth mode.

            Shock turned to disappointment. Felicia was heartbroken. “My baby!” she shrieked as tears welled up in her eyes.

            I convinced my wife to keep her composure. Moreover, I insisted that she let me handle this alone. It was more important that we seize this teaching opportunity for all it was worth, rather than getting too wrapped up in the punitive aspects of this situation.

            After 20 minutes, we were beginning to think Bernie wasn’t going to go. Did her better judgment take hold? Or did she just chicken out? Felicia “awoke” from her “nap” and began moving about the house. Relieved, I attempted to actually sleep.

            Then it happened. Bernadette came upstairs, complaining of an upset stomach, and asked if she could go to MegaBurger to get a Sprite. That lying little shit! Felicia feigned reluctance, giving her the third degree as to why it was necessary to leave when she had homework. “Ease up!” I thought.

            They came into the bedroom, and Felicia had Bernadette ask me if she could go. I indifferently consented, then rolled over in bed. Inside, my stomach was in knots. She was actually going through with this!

            We watched from behind a pulled shade as Bernadette coasted down the driveway on her scooter, her primary mode of travel. We were sick with the thought that if we were dealing with a real online predator, our final, lasting images of our little girl would be her pushing her scooter in her Catholic school uniform on her way to a violent, sickening death. She rode out of view, naively thinking she was on her way to a secret rendezvous with a boy.

2 b continued

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2 Responses to “I Was a Facebook Spy”

  1. oh geez….welcome to my world….

    it’s a scary place

  2. This was very scary! Evil lurks where you least expect it for a 14 yr old. She is now asking why people would do horrible things to young girls. My response, because they can, young girls & boys are easily distracted, lurred away with “candy”, and trapped! Great job, love the pics!! There is nothing I love more than knowing where my Bernadette is, where she belongs in the comforts of her nice warm cozy bed, safe and protected by 2 huge giants that will never ever let the monsters get her!


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