My after-school life was, to put it simply, boring. As soon as I got my first laptop when I was 13, my life got a whole lot brighter. To fill the blank span of time from when I got home from school to when I went to bed, I began exploring all corners of gaming and the internet with the help of my older brother. He showed me all the basic forms of entertainment, and I got started. After a while online, however, I began hearing of something known to many as the deep web.
After hours of failed attempts on top of failed attempts to access this forbidden place, I once more sought the help of my older brother, Oscar. He may have not been the brightest, but he was smart enough not to let his 13-year-old sister on to the deep web alone. My persistent begging finally got to him, and he decided to let me mess around on it a little. The only condition was that it would be on his computer, and he’d be supervising me at all times. So, he set me up. Opened up all the right browsers and let me go wild. I browsed Silk Road for a while, looked at some guns, then I stumbled upon a chat room. Hyped with all the possibilities of pranks in mind, I clicked the link. Many of the chats were harmless fun, then, after one more stranger left, tired of my antics, I met Charlie. The following conversation ensued.
“hey 🙂 who am i talking to?”, the new message popped up. Quickly, I respond with my usual, “female, 13. who are you, may i ask?” After a minute or two of more probing, I finally got out that he was a male and he was in his 40’s. I tried to talk my usual prank gibberish, but he reacted differently than everyone else. Instead of leaving, he turned the conversation. “well, what are you on a place like this for?” At this, my brother took over the conversation for me, saying gibberish as I had been doing, but, being a teenager, he couldn’t resist making it sexual gibberish. “that sounds amazing! i’m impressed that you aren’t weirded out by older men, but i’m sure if i showed you what i want you to do to me, you’d be creeped out.” Feeling uncomfortable with the situation, I let my brother take over the conversation completely from here. “no, i can handle it ;)”, My brother laughed as he sent the message. A minute or two later, a file appeared in the chat. I looked at Oscar, hesitation clear in his face and mine, but he clicked on it anyway.
That was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve witnessed to date. A second later, a picture popped up. Now I won’t go into too much detail of what this picture was, but it involved a girl who looked to be 6 or 7 doing something that a girl that age should never even have to think about doing. She looked scared, small, and frail. That was all I was able to deduce before my brother gagged and closed the file with a haste I’ve never seen before. He closed every single tab that had something to do with the deep web. After a moment of awful silence, I managed to get out, “Was… was that real, Oscar?” He didn’t give me an answer, instead telling me that I should never go on the deep web. With or without him, it was a place I shouldn’t be.
I look back today and wish we could have done something; taken a picture, called the police, told our parents, but we were too scared and horrified. I always think back to that little girl and wonder if i could have been a difference in her life. I try not to dwell on it much, but that’s difficult when I remember her scared eyes and small frame. I’m sorry.