I have a confession to make: I’m not a good person.
It’s probably why I’m writing this anonymously because if you knew who it was that was confessing this, you’d probably reconsider every perception you have of me.
You see, I’ve done a pretty good job of coming off straightlaced, religious and ethical to the real world. Hell, I might have a filthy mouth and curse too often, but I keep it clean when it comes to being around my family.
I’m fiercely loyal to my friends and family, but deep down I’m terrified of losing everyone and have a recurring dream of being forgotten and alone by everyone who once knew me.
Hell, I might have a filthy mouth and curse too often, but I keep it clean when it comes to being around my family.
My mom worries that I’m too soft when it comes to dealing with work and friends, and I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I’m socially awkward.
So, of course, it wouldn’t really make much sense when I tell you that when I was fourteen years old, I ended up catfishing a boy on the internet.
And that, in the process of catfishing him, I decided to kill myself off.
I used to have a deep addiction to the internet.
Deep, twisted, and dark – I found myself wandering into realms of the world wide web that should probably never have been possible for someone as young as myself. I discovered my first x-rated AOL chat room when I was nine years old and would troll it, not really understanding what A/S/L meant but quickly catching on to the other language that was being flung about in the chat room.
My parents kept the internet strictly monitored and on very short time limits, so I got very good at making legitimate excuses at having to use the computer and hiding my online life from my real one.
Amidst everything, I still found myself struggling with a deep moral compass, justifying my morally reprehensive activities with the fact that I was just like one of those undercover cops online, finding sexual predators by trolling chat rooms. That made it marginally better, as my morally disgusted psyche struggled with my more reprehensible Id.
Here was my chance to fit in somewhere, where it wasn’t strange to be pretending to be someone else.
I discovered Neopets a few years later, back when it was at its peak of activity, and the company hadn’t yet sold out with the stupid merchandising deals. I quickly tired of the games and the cheat codes, and one day found the RPG forums that were populated by hundreds of other bored Neopet gamers.
RPG, I quickly learned, meant role-playing games.
The threads about actual historical or video game events were boring to me – what really mattered was the stupidly fantastic, quickly-moving romantic movie-based (or general scenario-based) threads.
My parents thought I learned to type as lightning fast as I do as a result of writing papers. If I told them it was to keep up with the role-playing threads on Neopets, they’d probably have a fit.
See, the threads were linear in the way they started.
Someone posted a scenario and available roles. You quickly called dibs for the most interesting parts, and the games started. Stories unfolded quickly, and most people opted for crappy but satisfying storylines that included hookups and online kissing.
I was everything that I wasn’t in real life.
Weird, I know. But I grew addicted, and badly so. Here was my chance to fit in somewhere, where it wasn’t strange to be pretending to be someone else. I played everything I could get a hand on – women, men, once in a while, an animal. That wasn’t too interesting to me.
I soon learned that users would take their chats “off the thread” which just meant a chance for an online hookup, where you would literally sext before sexting even happened.
Six hours would pass in a blink of an eye, and I’d be churning out stories, connections, and hookups before I even realized what I was doing. It was a feeding ground of egos, ageless in a world where you were really only supposed to be taking care of a discolored, imaginary pet.
I was lonely. I had low self-esteem and body issues – but in this online world, where you could be anything, I was everything that I wasn’t in real life.
It was there that I met Josh. I’m calling him that because, honestly, I’ve forgotten his name.
I was Misty on Neopets, and that’s what he knew me as. I had a soft spot for him, the ruthless fourteen-year-old girl that I was, and we struck up a friendship over email that quickly turned romantic.
He sent me lyrics from a song he and his friends had written for their garage band, a song that he had dedicated to me.
I forgot to email him back. I forgot for weeks until I finally checked.
I told him things about a life that was fabricated for him, an imaginary life where I was an early high school student, pretty but bullied by the other students. I crafted a life that he fit perfectly into as my savior, and he fell right into it. He sent me his photo, and I sent him a photo of a pretty brunette girl I found online. He was in awe over how he could possibly deserve someone as pretty as me.
I felt guilty and ugly.
It was, in its ultimatum, my perfect story. But then again, who’s happy with perfect stories?
The downfall is so much more interesting.
So I grew bored with Josh. He was too kind, too good, and too needy. He needed my validation on his looks, his life, and his decisions. I had already gone through another dozen flings on Neopets. My life at home was a complete 180 from what he believed mine to be online.
That’s what made me decide to kill myself off. It’s as bad as you think.
I stopped responding to his emails after I told him that the bullying at my school had intensified. Having built a reality in which one girl at my school was getting more physically violent towards me, I forgot to email him back. I forgot for weeks until I finally checked.
There were twenty emails from him, all freaked out, each more frantic than the last. I read through them all, my heart sinking more with each one. Misty!, he typed in one, R U okay???! I haven’t heard from u in forever!
What was I supposed to do? I could confess and say who I really was, but that was too much of a headache. I was trying to cut my addiction to Neopets, and with that, came my need to cut my addiction to Josh.
So I slowly typed out an email, one that took me longer than any other email that I had probably written until then.
I hated saying goodbye, so instead, I had someone else say goodbye for me: Misty’s father.
I don’t remember the details exactly of how I killed myself off. It was a solemn email, one that spoke fondly to Josh about Misty’s goodbye note to him, and how the bullies got to her, in the end. It was all the bullies’ fault. I signed it with a sigh, knowing just how despicable I was for doing it – but sending it anyways.
I didn’t log into that email again after that. I didn’t want to face reality.
After all, it was the internet.