The Internet Is Not Evil This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I look up from the fast-moving chat screen to see a small box in the left-handcorner. It says "Instant Message From: TCN YT," with two small lettersin the text portion: "hi." I quickly check the mysterious name'sprofile to find out more about the sender. Male, from Georgia ... I rememberseeing he was 17 when someone did an age/gender check in the chat room. I gave acheerful "Hello =)" back, and continued to watch the discussion. I madeoccasional comments but I soon became preoccupied with the private conversation Iam having with TCN. He was funny, sweet and very shy. I didn't realize untilthree months of conversations that I had inadvertently fallen for those fiveletters, or rather, the person behind them, Geoff.

Now, I know what youmust be thinking. On the Internet? Don't you know about all the weirdos outthere? Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. The news is constantly telling Americaabout preteens who make friends with pedophiles on-line and are subsequentlyfound dead and sexually abused. These things happen, but where are their parents?Why would they let their children meet someone without supervision or a safetyplan? We cannot blame the Internet for bad parenting.

I was cautious, ofcourse. That's how I am naturally. I told him my first name out of courtesy, justas he told me his. And I know how this will sound, but I trusted him with myfirst name because I connected with him. Clich", yes, but it was how I felt andstill feel. I didn't reveal where I lived, how many siblings I had or anythinglike that until I had known Geoff for awhile. My mother and I have discussed thedangers of the Internet many times, and I keep that in mind with anyone I meeton-line.

Geoff and I have a common love: "Star Wars: " not thedefense plan of the '80s, but the movie and book series created by George Lucas.At first, our conversations were centered around what books we had read, who ourfavorite characters were, that sort of thing. Tentatively, we moved on to our ownlives, but nothing personal. He asked me what color my eyes were, how tall I was,whether I played any sports. We built a friendship slowly, just as any goodfriendship is built. I had a boyfriend. I wasn't looking for anythingmore.

But things got worse in my life. My boyfriend, someone I loved,broke up with me. A close friend lost her father. Geoff was the first person Itold about this death, and he helped me start to cope. Through crisis, we werebrought together. He revealed that he had low self-esteem. I revealed how much I hatedlove. But still, our relationship was nothing more than a solid friendship.Junior year was almost over and I had a prom, finals and the SATs to worry about.His finals also loomed. While trying to put my life back together, I was glad tohave him there, just in case.

The whole "mess" started after afriend stayed at my house one night. I "introduced" her to Geoff, andshe had a fun conversation with him. The next day, he and I had a conversationthat would change our lives.

TCN YT: I guess I'll have to send you apicture now ...

LadyVad357: For Nicole, of course.

TCNYT: Youjust keep telling yourself that.

LadyVad357: It makes it easier that way ...

I couldn't believe I'd said that. It slipped from my fingers to thekeyboard, bypassing my brain. He asked me if he had read that right, and did Imean it. I was still in shock and all I could tell him was that I didn't knowwhat I meant anymore.

That's how it all started, a little over five monthsago. Today, we are planning his trip here during vacation. Yes, my parents havesaid it was all right. He'll be staying with us. Excited and nervous, I amexperiencing a whirlwind of emotions. The world sees how we met as dangerous.Geoff and I can't make any sense of it. But we're the happiest we've been in along time. fl


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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