Sometimes I really miss the days before the internet. Think about it: we give complete strangers access to us 24/7 and trolls feed off that. Some “meetings” and encounters are positive. I have met some amazing people online. Actually, a few of my dearest friends started as a Twitter handle with a tiny photo to the left. I have also had so many women reach out to me online who have been victims of domestic abuse. I am grateful to use my platform to offer advice or just listen. It can feel like a very lonely club to be in. Unfortunately, there are more people, like me, in it than you realize. I have had countless victims speak about how they hid the abuse because they were embarrassed. I hid it for quite some time. My siblings were in healthy relationships and I was humiliated. Now, I realize I should not have been. The humiliation was not my burden to carry. The man who told me things like “I hope you fall and lose all of your teeth,” “You are fat and ungrateful,” “I will reset your nose,” “You are just jealous because of my greatness” etc. was the person who should have been holding that disgraceful weight. I now realize being embarrassed because you were abused it like apologizing to someone who hits you with their car when you were walking on the sidewalk.
The internet can also make us sick and paranoid. I have been diagnosed with so many diseases because of WebMD. Thankfully, I have a very kind and patient friend who is also a doctor and “heals” me with facts. Recently, the internet had my family worried we were being targeted by burglars. I came home from a meeting and there was a pair of sneakers placed on my lawn. Truth be told, my grass looks like hay right now. We had a drought and this single mama isn’t paying a large water bill to keep up with the Joneses. Anyway, I asked my children if one of their friends left their shoes on the lawn. Neither recognized the pair. Then, my daughter said, “You know what that means don’t you?” I just stared at her confused. “That is a burglar’s code.” My eyes nearly popped out of my head. “They checked out neighborhoods, decided they wanted to steal things from our house and will come back later.”
They learned this on TikTok. When I was their age I would have assumed a kid dropped their shoes and didn’t realize it. We had a Commodore 64 and it didn’t offer that information. It was a word processor with arcade quality sounds. I checked with the neighbors to see if anybody was missing shoes. Then, I told my children this was an Urban Legend. I, however, removed the sneakers from my lawn and adjusted all of my security cameras. I may have grown up without the internet, but I had Oprah. She taught me crime is about opportunity and I wasn’t taking any chances.