Dangerous Behaviors and Kid Fears
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Curves.
“It’s crazy,” Shannon tells me. “All you parents are so scared to death that us teenagers are going to go meet some pervert we meet online, and yet all these moms of teenagers are out there meeting with—and sleeping with—men they’ve met online and know nothing about.” And I agree with her. As parents, we’re all terrified of who they might encounter through MySpace or AIM or wherever, who might entice them into a meeting and damage them for life. They’re afraid of what their moms will catch or that she’ll get beaten to a pulp or robbed or raped by the same guys we worry will do them harm. It’s strange to see that teens have the same fears about their parents…and that they see the hypocrisy in it.
I’ve met a lot of great people online and it’s been a wonderful way to find other people who think like me, around the world, while I’m stuck in the Bible Belt. For example, I knew Maggie Shayne via online writers’ bulletin boards for a couple of years before I met her in person and she’s one of my closest friends even though she lives in New York and I live in Florida. Same with so
many writers I met through writing sites and bulletin boards and later met face-to-face at conferences, often being very surprised at their appearance (those glamour photos were kinda old) or their in-person attitude—both for good and for bad.
Same goes for various spiritual friends I knew online and by phone, and later through personal interaction.
I can’t say the same for men online. Though I get a lot of emails and have at least ventured in that direction for male conversation, I’m still wary of meeting an online persona at some hotel or bar. Something usually warns me not to.
And for the record, I have male friends who’ve met psycho women online, the kind who go from adoring and adorable to clingy, crazy, knife-wielding bitches in 0 to 60 seconds.
Oddly enough, but the men seem more inclined to talk about their scary encounters than the women, who seem to take it as their own fault for being in that situation whereas the men immediately blow off any responsibility.
So as a single parent who’s careful about my daughters’ online activities, I find it interesting that my peers are the ones engaged in the more dangerous behaviors we’d attribute to horny 16-year-olds.
Later in my conversation with Shannon, I mention a friend of mine who’s been divorced for less than I have and is marrying a man she met a couple of weeks ago. She had two marriage proposals to choose from, within a week of each other. Since her ex moved out and moved in with a new girlfriend, she’s actively kept 2 to 3 boyfriends on the line at any one time.
”I don’t get it,” I tell Shannon, half-serious and half- joking. “What’s wrong with me that I’m not persistently
entertaining 2 or 3 men at one time? I could but…I don’t know.”
Shannon gets that I’m-totally-disgusted-with-parents look she sometimes gets. “It’s not what’s wrong with you. It’s what’s right with you.”
Gods, I love that kid.