The latest podcast available this week from “This American Life” is titled “Frenemies”. I’m an avid Ira Glass listener, and many of the podcast topics pluck familiar chords with my life experiences- but this one pulled that chord back and snapped it so hard that it left a physical ache. If you own a vagina, you know what a Frenemy is. If you don’t own a vagina, and haven’t existed intertwined in the lives of vaginas, the definition is simple: a person who disguises themselves as a friend, but is really a rival or competitor. This is mainly a “girl thing” due to the way girls are raised to compete with each other and hate each other- but it does happen with men (though usually in a work related situation).
I’ve had too much experience with frenemies. One of my first best friends was the epitome of this- and to such extremes her behavior topped the behaviors seen in movies like “Heathers”. She lead our little pack of girls, and used the most twisted games focused on our insecurities to unleash us against each other. I learned quickly to not tell her if I had a crush on a boy because she would immediately go after him and try to have sex with him (we were only 13, and this was LONG before I was even thinking about having sex). She would trash my house when my family went on vacation. She would set us all up in publicly humiliating situations, and anonymously terrorize us. She was such a sick person that her mom called my mom and begged for my mother to keep me from her for my own protection. Because of all the time I spent with this deranged young lady, I can now spot the games of a frenemy from a mile away. I can pick them out of a crowd, and I used to be able to keep them at bay. Until technology hit.
Over the past few years, I’ve had problems with harassment. Anonymous emails, myspace messages from phony profiles, facebook messages, etc. They’re obviously from ladies (from the nature of the messages and the passive-aggressive way they’re written, I can tell that they’ve never been from a boy). They target me and Brad’s relationship. They are hostile, but worded in the guise of “one lady having another lady’s back”… trying to make me question him, and things that he’s doing when I’m not around. Trying to cause a riff between us. This would be hurtful if Brad and I weren’t rock-solid. But we are- so we always get to the bottom of who’s sending them together as a team. These are our 2 target ‘problem ladies’. Brad is too kind of a person, and is open and warm to everyone- so young girls who aren’t stable take his kindness too seriously and want me out of the picture. These are usually the groupie types, and they see me as a threat to their potential relationship- so they come after me. The other type of ‘problem ladies’ are the fully unstable ex-girlfriends (using the term ‘girlfriend’ very loosely) that don’t like that he’s happy. They reconnect with him, or just bump into him somewhere- and the next thing I know, I start getting contacted.
I brush this all off. I never respond to any of it (because that’s what they want). I never get upset because I know that it’s just the pathetic attempts of lonely and broken people to get attention- so why bother emotionally investing in it. Brad will confront who he needs to confront, and cut these people out of his life. But the problem is that the more technology advances, the more tactics they have to get to me. The more invasive they can become. Technological harassment in our culture has become and epidemic- and I don’t understand why more isn’t being done to stop it.
The latest harassment I’ve received was from an 8 digit text number. This person knew me and Brad’s name, and details about my life. This is someone who knows us. This is a frenemy that has missed my radar. Through some investigating I found that this number is actually from an ipad/iphone app that allows you to send untraceable anonymous text messages. Why does this exist? Why, with the recent suicides of so many children due to technological bullying would Apple allow for this app to be available? What positive function could this serve?
So I did further investigating trying to figure out how this person has my unlisted personal cell phone number… and I was horrified. For $0.95, you can find out someone’s current address, the names and ages of all their relatives, their phone number, yearly income, and how much their house is worth. For around $20, you get more- their academic info, all their employment history, everywhere they’ve ever lived, etc. And for $50- you get everything. Absolutely everything you could ever want to know about a person that has ever been documented. How is this legal? Maybe if you’re dating someone new and want to find out if they’re married or have a prison record this might prove useful… but aside from that, how is this ok? Anyone with an internet connection can find out absolutely everything about you. Which leaves every single one of us wide open.
Stalker laws are about 30 years outdated and leave the victim fully unprotected. Kids are killing themselves left and right because they are getting bombarded by threats and hate via technology. Innocent unsuspecting people’s information is fully exposed to every type of predator out there… and not only is it legal, but company’s are profiting off of it. HOW IS THIS LEGAL?!?!?! Social networks have done everything they can so that you can make your profiles private. Email has a function where you can trace the IP address of any email you receive to exactly where it was sent from (so if the person sent if from their computer, you have them nailed). But with people using their phones as their primary computers now, why are these cell providers not doing more to protect their customers?! I can’t even block incoming numbers on my Blackberry.
We’re going to check with a lawyer this week and see why private personal information is allowed to be given to strangers for a measly fee of $50. Why it’s legal for predators to have such access to everything about us, but doctors have to have a signed consent form to even talk to a previous doctor. People are dying and killing themselves because the sickest fuckers in our society have the upper hand- and the companies that we pay monthly services to are giving them the weapons to attack with. This all needs to stop. We need to feel safe. And right now, none of us are. So Brad and I are going to try to get some solid reasons why our privacy is for sale to the highest bidder, and I’ll keep you all posted to what we find out: ways to protect yourself, ways to combat this, and possible legal ways you can retaliate if you’ve been a victim.
And to the lady out there who got a hold of my number and is trying to play games with me… I know you’re reading this (because it’s what ladies like you do… stalk and watch and hunt for a reaction to fuel your fire). I don’t care about you. You can send me anything you want. You can say anything you want. If you need this to be able to look at yourself in the mirror, then I’m not going to take that away from you. But know that every little thing you send to me, I show Brad. And we laugh. At you. And then we forget it and go back to loving each other. You’ll never have that love and security in your life. Why? Because you suck, and karma knows that. The more you do this, the lonelier you’ll be. And you’re just making Brad and I a stronger unified force. So thank you for that.