for me there are three specific events that define the origins of my internet use.
the first time i think i ever went online was using my dad's laptop when he was away overseas. this must have been around 1997 or something.
i don't have any memory of email or the internet before sitting in my mother's kitchen while staying there when princess was a baby and we'd just come back from overseas, with the phone cord plugged into the laptop. i would cruise around, checking stuff out. i remember the search engine of choice was alta vista i think, and i remember i had madonna's ray of light playing in the computer at the same time. to me, this was the ultimate techological sophistication. i remember going into a chat-room associated with dad's isp, i can't remember the name* i remember there were these chat-rooms with different names, like hot-tub and barstool. in one of these rooms i watched someone do a strip-show. even though there were no visuals, it was so erotic and the atmosphere was so charged. i felt like i was peeping at someone, and i backed out of there, heart thumping.
the next lot of internet use was around the monica lewinsky scandal. by this time, i had an office set up. i was doing freelance work at home, and spending hours and hours at night playing games such as harry the handsome executive** and warcraft which my brother had put me onto. i also read for hours and hours about monica and bill.
also around this time i read an article about jonbenet ramsay, a 6-year old "beauty queen" who had been found murdered in her family home basement, on boxing day 1996. her father found her, there was a ransom note demanding $118,000. because the father, john, had found her and carried her up out of the basement to where the police were searching other areas of the house, much forensic evidence was destroyed. rumours began, and people thought the parents had done it, either separately or together. or that the older son had. or that blah de blah had done it.
occasionally over the years i would google jonbenet to see what there was to read. amazing conspiracy theories.
which have been put to rest today, i guess, as i see a man has been arrested in thailand. this man is a teacher, who said that he loved jonbenet and her death was an accident.
a thai policeman is quoted as saying:
they fell in love with each other... so he kidnapped her and killed her by accident.
this sentence is so, so wrong. they fell in love with each other? excuse me, at 6 years old, little girls fall in love with kittens and puppies and the colour pink. they have probably fallen in love with their daddies around the age of 2. they do not fall in love with 31 year old men.
the saddest thing about this is jonbenet's mother, patsy, died of cancer 2 months ago.
things like this freak me out. last night i had a conversation with princess on the edge of her bed about how she says she is scared someone is going to come into the house and hurt her. she said she felt very safe when we moved in here, and she doesn't know why lately she's been scared. she told me she had a dream about her cousins being in a toilet and a man hiding behind the door, wanting to hurt them. i told her it was clear to me that she has been upset by what happened to the girl in perth, in the shopping centre toilet.
what do i say to a 9 year old who is the same age as a girl who was raped and murdered in the space of ten minutes in a shopping centre in our own country? not somewhere overseas. then at least i could consider a lie, and say "that wouldn't happen here."
how do i reassure her, when i myself worry about these things happening too? how do i respond when she asks me whether it would be better to scream, or to try and run away, or to play stupid, or to pretend to be asleep if someone comes into her room? or to fight.
i don't think i could fight a man, mummy.
so i try to tell her about the flight or fight instinct. we talk about david***, and how she's seen him talk about animals running away or fighting. i tell her she's smart and she would work out what to do. as i'm saying this, i'm wondering whether i should be telling her not to worry. am i indulging her by responding? am i feeding her fear, making it credible by not cutting her off and saying "don't be ridiculous. nothing's going to happen to you"? because that's a lie, i can't guarantee that nothing will happen to her during her life? how can a parent say that?
so i tell her i don't think she needs to worry about this. that i don't know anyone who this has happened to. that she is safe safe safe in our house, with john and me to take care of her. i tell her that bad things can happen in life, but we can't worry about them too much. like granny getting cancer. you deal with it. like mum and dad getting divorced. things work out.
then i tell her the best place to kick a man is in his private parts. she laughs, incredulously and tells me about a boy at school accidentally banging himself there and rolling on the ground.
the scary mood is broken and we smile as we acknowledge the male vulnerability.
and then today i pick up the paper and see the story on jonbenet. i will be making sure it's not lying around for the kids to see. she doesn't need to know that some crazy fuck somehow brooke into a little girl's house and raped her and murdered her. even if it did happen almost ten years ago.
* what are some names of early ISPs in australia other than bigpong. it wasn't those fucks. something with "super" in it i think.
** can someone please validate me here. has anyone else seen this piece of superb gaming?
*** david attenbrough, whose docos have been, and continue to be, a staple of princess' life education.