Sometimes when I go to type a website into the search bar, I forget what I was going to look for–only a moment, then I look and realize my fingers have typed f-a-c-, and the autocomplete has already filled in Facebook.com.
This terrifies me.
Once upon a time, there was a time, a dark time, before snapchat, before twitter and Instagram, before even Facebook, there was AIM.
In this era, there were places of mystery, adventure, and–as parents always warned–danger. These places, rife with perverts and catfish, were called chatrooms.
I was ten. My older brother was fiddling around in Microsoft Paint. It was an advertisement for Tommy Hillfinger.
“What are you doing?” I asked. He showed me how skillfully he’d removed all evidence of advertisement from the photo.
“Some girl on this chatroom asked for a picture of me,” he informed me. He saved the picture of the Hillfinger model, then sent it. He clapped his hands. We went upstairs to have a snack. By the time we got back to the computer, the picture had almost sent. As we ate he said that the girl had sent him a picture of her tits! Which he then explained was another word for boobs. I asked to see.
He pulled it up. I whistled; I’d just learned to whistle.
“Want a copy?” he asked, conspiratorially. I tried to nod, but my wide-eyed look was answer enough. He hit print. At that moment, our mother called us to dinner. In a panic my brother shut the computer off completely. My heart calmed, he took a breath.
“Coming!” he called.
We scampered up the stairs, they were thick, carpeted–good for scampering. It was lasagna. Our father came home halfway through dinner, he didn’t care for lasagna.
We should have known better, thought more, but we really liked lasagna, even though we’d already snacked. We were both on our third, maybe fourth helpings, when our father came into the kitchen holding a piece of paper.
My brother went pale first.
“This,” he turned the picture to us, “is not what the internet is for.”
I, instead, went red. My father, shaking his head, walked out folding the paper as he went.
Our mother looked from my brother to me.
“Idiots,” she muttered.
We were grounded from the computer for a month. I couldn’t wait to be an adult; when I could print as many pictures of boobs as I wanted.