Trust, Hope, and the Internet

I feel like I’ve become a true 21st century woman today. Today, a person exposed themselves to me in an explicit way on the internet.

I’ve been on the internet for a good while now, using plenty of social media, instant message and chat platforms, forums, and some online games. Though I tend not to really use video (because I look like either a thumb or a moon at all times on video), there have still been plenty of opportunities to see *things* had people wanted to send me said things. And yet I had seen nothing untoward until today.

Now don’t get me wrong on this. I don’t condone assaulting people in unsolicited ways on the internet. It’s an entirely distasteful hobby. 

…but I probably slightly let myself in for it by having so much faith in the goodness and innocence of humans. The person in question (a person I went to school with, but I won’t name names because I know that there’s always the potential that their social media account might have been hacked to perpetrate this) chatted to me for about 2 weeks about a hobby of mine, sewing, before today.

Sewing, I hear you say, confounded. Yes. This person had an item they wanted re-embroidering, and asked if I could do it (obviously I now know this is a lie, don’t worry team). I said no, but then a little later they contacted me saying they’d had the work done, and didn’t I want to see it.

And of course I didn’t, because why would I care about someone else’s project, especially when I haven’t spoken to that person in 7 years, and we weren’t really friends anyway. And when that person insisted this exchange had to be on video chat.

Let me add at this point that I know that is a massive signal, and I mentioned to several people that I reckoned the person in question had dodgy intentions. But I so strongly hoped that there were no intentions, just a person really keen on sharing crafts. So today, I caved, and agreed to the call.

On my lunch break, I stood in the rain, outside the building site that I currently work on, and accepted a video call. I heard a greeting, and then drilling started behind me. I lifted the phone to my ear to better hear what was being said, only to catch on that what was being said was not really for my benefit. I looked back at the screen, saw more than I’d asked for, and then the call was ended. I can’t access the person’s account any more.

After my initial reaction of feeling stunned, I texted Boyfriend to tell him the story. He’s one of the people I expressed concern to about the intentions of the contact being dodgy, and I knew he’d find the whole thing as funny as I did. But then my feelings moved from funny to sadness. I’m sad that the person I had faith in to be innocently excited about sewing actually has to get their kicks by exposing themselves to practical strangers on the internet. There are so many great things in life, and for that to be your thing is honestly quite depressing to me. I’d like more for the people I know than that.

Then I realised I’m lucky. I was exposed to something unexpected and my reaction was to laugh. Some people would have been strongly affected, and as far as I can tell, I have no way to actively do anything about this. I can’t access the person’s account any more, and there doesn’t seem to be a functional way to report something like this to any authority.

So, I’ve settled for this. Sharing the experience (for the comedy, to be fair) and giving people I went to school with the opportunity, should they wish, to contact me directly and ask whose account it was so that they can avoid the same thing happening to them.

Unless you want it to of course, because I mean, get your kicks (in consensual ways though please)

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