In my continuing attempts to reach out to our nation’s youth (’cause, you know, they’re the future) I’ve decided to sign up for AOL Instant Messenger, or just AIM as it’s called these days.
If I’m signed into AIM right now, and I’m not away from my PC, you should see a message near the top of the right-hand column that looks something like this:
AIM id Windypundit is now online
I set that up a few days ago, but no one has contacted me…until last night. I was getting ready to run an errand, so I clicked on the AIM bar and set my status to away. When I glanced at the Windows task bar, however, I noticed that there were task buttons for two AIM windows. I clicked on the other one, and sure enough, even though I had heard nothing, there was a message for me:
The fateful moment had come. My first out-of-the-blue instant message ever. (I’ve disguised the AIM screen name, but the real one did say something about sheep and love.) I closed the window without saving the message, so I’m reconstructing it from memory, but it went a bit like this:
SomethingSheepLove: I like your photos
SomethingSheepLove: Do you sell them?
Windypundit: No I’m an amateur
Windypundit: What brings you to my page?
Windypundit: I gotta go
That wasn’t so bad. I had expected something more like this:
CoolYoungPerson: CZ4 XQ R84Z?
Windypundit: I don’t understand
It’s a little weird being contacted by someone I don’t know and don’t expect. I wanted to see if I could find out more about this person. I don’t know anything about AIM, but there’s got to be some kind of user profile page, right? So I double-click on their screen name, and it shows up in a little search box at the bottom of the chat window. So I clicked the “Go” button to see if that would show me a profile.
No such luck. It turns out this is just a Google web search. But it does find the MySpace page where my mysterious chat buddy mentions their AIM screen name. I click on the search result to visit the page.
It’s a 17-year old girl.
MySpace is full of people looking for a hook-up, so this makes me feel just a little bit creepy somehow… On the other hand, (1) I’m not on MySpace for dating (as I’m sure my wife will be pleased to read), (2) she’s getting ready to go to college so it’s not like she’s a child, (3) she contacted me, and (4) she’s 800 miles away. Nothing creepy here.
Now that that was settled, I figured that since she complimented my photography, I should send her an invitation to be one of my MySpace friends. I did so, and I got up to leave.
This time I heard the AIM chime as the chat message arrived:
SomethingSheepLove: How did you find me?
Windypundit: [I explained what I did]
SomethingSheepLove: Why would you search for me? That’s creepy.
Now I’ve gone from the cool photography guy to the creepy guy in five minutes. This blog doesn’t have much personal information about me, so I guess when she found my photos, she didn’t realize I was in my 40s. Most of her online friends are young ladies like herself, so when this middle-aged guy suddenly tracks her down and wants to be her friend…
You know, I like to think that I have a few dangerous ideas here on Windypundit, and if I can convert some of our nation’s youths to those ideas, all the better. But this was not a good start.
I apologized for creeping her out, and she said goodbye.