“We need to talk” might be the four worst words exchanged between friends. Generally speaking you know fantastic news won’t be following. It’s not like a person will say, “We need to talk because I have 1500 fifteen hundred cupcakes to give you. Right now.” I have to tell you: 1500 cupcakes is a definite reason to celebrate. Please contact me now if you have this many cupcakes to give me.
So when I had a friend tell me we needed to talk I knew it wasn’t about an impending delivery of cupcakes but in actuality a delivery of terrible shitty news. And I was totally right.
In my old life as a teacher I had written curriculum for a private university who runs its own independent study program. This independent study program has programs of study for students in all secondary grades, 9th through 12th as well as the university level. Theoretically, I am considered the educator for all the curriculum I have written for this program even though I am not actively or currently maintaining any of the courses. I am just the name and photograph on the lesson manual while other educators grade the coursework and answer any student questions that might arise throughout their year of study. Though I am retired now, I have worked with this independent study program and university for over ten years and I have always enjoyed working with them. They do valuable work with a spectrum of students who would otherwise have a great difficulty in achieving their education. Over the many years in our working relationship we have encountered our share of difficult students. However, all of us were astounded by what my friend had discovered.
In a short space of time, approximately three months, a fake Twitter account had been created using my real and full name, my location and the photograph used in my instructor’s biography in this independent study program. Not only was there this invasion of privacy, the impostor set up my Twitter bio to read: “English teacher by day, porn star and director by night”. Sure, this could be laughed off. After all, I barely have enough time to mop my floors and clean the bathroom. Where on earth would I have the time to not only star in porn films but direct them? But using my real name along with my photograph, the university I was affiliated with (a university I respect and have long appreciated), and my location? I was annoyed.
But then I became angry.
There were pictures of my children. Whomever it was who had the audacity to come after had the dumabassery to go after my children, and this was the biggest mistake of his life. This person, tweeting as me, referred to my children, the special lives I have cherished and loved, as Mistakes. He tweeted as me saying I hated my kids, saying that I hated being pregnant, and how I abort babies so often I am given discounts at the abortion clinic. As I read each tweet, each one more offensive than the last, I grew angrier and angrier. I disregarded every mention he made that was supposedly a reference to my so-called porn star lifestyle. This misogynistic asshole can call me a filthy whore everyday of his pitiful and pathetic life; he won’t register on my brain map. But if he ever acknowledges my children again with even so much of an eye twitch I will castrate him with a rusted grapefruit spoon.
I knew this person had no knowledge of my real Twitter account or my blog, and only had access to my real Facebook account. He was only able to grab two of many photographs of my children I had used for my “cover page” that had to be public. (Facebook has since changed that option for cover pages.) By this and a handful of other pieces of information, I was able to narrow down who had done this. I knew it was a student in one of these independent study classes. I had the Twitter account “profiled” by someone I know who is an expert in analyzing online identity hijackings and my hunches were confirmed.
Yes, Twitter suspended the fake account, but only after I contacted them several times. It wasn’t until I contacted them a final time citing a specific law enacted after 9/11 that I had an immediate response and had the fake account suspended. It has stayed suspended only because the university I was affiliated with became involved. This university was also able to identify the individual who created the account.
“We need to talk” can usher in the worst experience of a person’s life. And there were days during this time that I felt horribly victimized. Knowing I was already a sexual assault and rape survivor, my friend was cautious in telling me this Twitter account even existed. It had already existed for at least for four months without my knowledge so why tell me at all? However, I was grateful for the information because as my son was in junior high I could very well have found out in the worst way possible: by some snot-nosed kid taunting my son over it.
Some people wonder why I am so overprotective of my my personal life even as I tend to share so much of my life online. It is a hard to know how to maintain the line in balancing what to give of myself “out there” in terms of being open while keeping certain people in my life sacred. My children, however, are mine to protect. They are my stewardship and I will protect them with my life. If someone wants to come after me I would rather he or she would do so in a reasonable manner; I am happy to discuss any and all grievances.
But stay away from my children, bitches.