In today´s online world of MySpace and Facebook, the trend seems to be
against what the media has been warning the public of for years. Don´t mention
your name, your school, your town; wait, I meant, please join the "School X" and
"Town Y" social groups!
No one wants to feel anxious about their online identity these days. We all
want to connect, to play, to share information, to put ourselves on Youtube
videos, post photos, and it has even become uncool to be antsy about meeting
people you met online.
Unfortunately, regardless of what we´d like to believe, stalking still
happens. A high school girl was recently approached at school by a man who
crossed borders and travelled hours to find her.
For one 16 year-old girl, her long-time WoW guildmate began to stalk her. The
female college student she had been hanging around with in a virtual world for
months, chatting about fashion and parties, turned out to be a 20 year-old
She met him face-to-face when he showed up at her high school, claiming to be
her guildmate´s best friend. Armed with odd gifts like a set of his car keys and
a The OC DVD box set, he showed her some photos of her guildie that she´d
recognize, and asked her to lunch.
It became apparent very quickly that something was very wrong. His behavior
was strange; he not only offered her a new laptop computer, but he also hung
around the school parking lot for hours, claiming he didn´t know how he would
get back home.
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Luckily, the girl and her friends had the presence of mind to inform school
officials. The local deputy uncovered that although the man knew the woman,
Vera, whose identity he had virtually assumed, she did not know that he had been
posing as her, even using her photos, on both MySpace and WoW. In his car the
police found several bottles of hard liquor.
Although I have read similar stories, this one has a bizarre ring to it, as
if the man is perhaps more unstable and obsessed than downright predatory. One
thing that really struck me was that he was only twenty years old, a detail I
must have missed during my first read, and one that genuinely surprised me. That
is an age where, if he had been struck by a drunk driver, or diagnosed with
cancer, people would be referring to him as practically a kid.
For parents especially, this sort of thing is most definitely frightening.
Although there are many precautionary steps that we can take online, there is
only so much a parent can do to protect their children while giving them room to
evolve, learn, make choices, and have independence. 24/7 monitoring simply isn´t
On a side note, the author?s portrayal of World of Warcraft is one of the most skewed I have come across
in awhile. He claims that players, working in guild groups, are on a
"never-ending quest to gather power" which struck an odd chord with me. I move
my character through content, and try to upgrade my gear, master my skillset,
and the like, but I have never viewed my progress in-game as an attempt to
acquire power over others.
He also claims that "players can be fanatical in their pursuit of Warcraft
gold", linking it to how we gain power. Personally, I feel that anyone who is
fanatical about WoW gold is likely fanatical about stalking 16 year-old girls
too. Of course, the real tip-off that the author has never even seen a WoW
player or a copy of the game is that, according to him, news reports have shown
that some players spend real money for WoW gold on eBay.
Feel free to comment on your reactions. I read it about four times and came
out of it feeling a bit like someone had me in a fear + stun lock.