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April 21, 2024

That time I was stalked by a 12-year-old

By RACHEL WITKIN | April 27, 2013

If you’re 12-years-old and find remote members of your family on the Internet, I get that it’s pretty tempting to friend them on every aspect of social media that you have. But if those family members have no idea who you are, then you should probably think first before you act like a stalker.

I’m not speaking from the experience of being a 12-year-old stalker, though I did send the occasional threatening email in my time, telling my friends to get on AIM and talk to me or else they were losers. Real mature. Instead, I speak from the experience of getting hammered with messages from my pre-teen second cousin.

It all started when my 16-year-old first cousin texted me to say that some rando with a bunch of pictures of herself wearing lipstick had added her on Instagram and then posted a photo of us and my other first cousins. Whoever this girl was, she knew our names and seemed to think she was related to us. My cousin promptly blocked her and, though we were sufficiently creeped out, there wasn’t anything else we could do about it.

A few days later, I checked my ever-growing list of Twitter followers to see that someone with a similar name and lipstick in her profile picture was now following me. A similar person had also friended me on Facebook. After doing some investigations of my own, I found this girl’s YouTube account, where she gives people makeup advice. I decided to message her and ask who she was, because she had obviously put some effort into finding me. Once I sent the message, a few previous messages popped up. She had messaged me a few times over the past week, calling herself my cousin and saying “hello?” after I hadn’t answered. Though the messages were weird, I hadn’t seen them because apparently Facebook is now a legitimate enough form of communication to have a spam folder.

She responded the next morning telling me that she was my cousin. When I stated that I had no idea who she was, she proceeded to name-drop EVERYONE IN MY FAMILY. Even the names of my younger brothers. When she finally stated her mom’s name, I realized that she was the daughter of an estranged member of my family that no one had heard from in years. This made it very strange that she knew the names of everyone in my family, as we weren’t even sure if her mother knew all of that information. I texted my first cousin to confirm who this person was before I responded to her, but, while I waited, I received at least ten new messages from the mystery cousin. She wanted to know why I hadn’t accepted her friend request, commented on my cover photo, sent me a selfie (yes, still wearing lipstick) and gave me her email address so we could iMessage. When I still hadn’t responded to her, she continued to type “hello, hello?” over and over again and asked me if I was mad that she had told me she was my cousin.

I finally responded and told her that, no, I wasn’t mad, but was just confused because she had bombarded us on so many social media accounts and posted a photo of us without us having any idea who she was. She responded by asking me why I hadn’t accepted her friend request yet. I finally accepted it the next day, since she was actually related to me, but I made sure to put her on limited profile. She hasn’t contacted me since.

While the entire incident was hilarious, I am pretty concerned for this girl and her voracious Internet activity. I hope not all preteens act exactly the same way. But, if you are a 12-year-old looking to connect with some people, maybe you should follow a few guidelines first. Don’t post photos of people who don’t know you. Please don’t give out your email address (you never know, I could also be crazy and start spamming your iMessage). And, even if you don’t harass people on the Internet, you are still far too young to wear lipstick.

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