To My Lovely Daughters,

If you’re reading this, that means the world did not, in fact, end in the year 2012. Furthermore, the Internet is still very much intact and somehow, despite all of my attempts to shield you from the atrocities within, you’ve managed to find your way to it. And you wonder why I don’t let you go to your friend’s house after school. At least I raised a clever girl.

Before you read any further, make sure you’ve done all your chores. Dishwasher loaded, laundry folded, Grimm Jr. fed and walked, homework at least mostly done, trash taken out (especially your bathroom), one hour of practice on your musical instrument of choice, daily comic book read, and conversation in your native language held. All done? I bet it’s bed time. No? Crap. How I raised a machine, I do not know.

Have you watched a movie today? Go do that. In face, go find me. We can watch Eternal Sunshine together. It’s a classic. If I’m not there, get mom. Tell her that me from the past said to take you out wherever you want to go and buy you something nice. What’s that? You don’t have a mom? Well now you know why. I was too busy playing on the Internet to find you one. I’m probably bitter. This thing will ruin your life. Stay away.

….

…. still here, I see. You’re persistent, I’ll give you that. Alright gal, I’ll stop stalling. Because I’ve got some important things to tell you that I probably already have and you don’t believe me.

I’m a ripe 23 years old right now. That’s right. It’s only 2010. You’re not even close to being a twinkle in my eye. Or a sparkle in my pants (yep, I’m gross way back here in the past too). That means I’m young enough to have almost every single detail of what it was like to be a pre-teen fresh in my mind and I’m old enough to recognize what a blubbering idiot I was. You’re probably thinking, “That was decades ago. Boys are different now.” Well you’re wrong. If you’re in the seventh grade, I get a quarter every time you hear the word “tii-ight”. If you’re in tenth grade, I bet you this weeks allowance everyone has irritated scabby craters all over their faces that they somehow thought was less offensive than a zit. If you’re a senior, you owe me a dollar for every dirty, skate shoe-wearing scumface in the hacky-sack circle outside during lunch. You can leave the money in an envelope marked “You told me so” by the guacamole dispenser..

Now that I have your unwavering trust in my youthful insight, I’m going to tell you something you’re not going to want to hear — Carlos or Jimothy or Scooter (that chode) or whateverhisnameis that you’re calling the boy-who-is-your-friend — he doesn’t love you. You think I’m just being mean, but I’m not. Maybe in the sense that I really mean it. He doesn’t. He might say it in the sweetest, most sincere, pitchy voice imaginable, but he doesn’t. You know why? Because you’re both too young to know what you really want. Over the next ten years, your lives are going to change so drastically that you’ll barely remember why you said all those things in the first place. And if you do remember, it’ll be scathingly embarrassing. Trust me, experience is my teacher.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he really does love you. Here’s how you find out: make him wait. What do I mean by that? You’ve got big ol’ dinosaur brains, you figure it out. However many ways you think it might be applicable, it is. More, actually. Yes even in the way I won’t talk to you about. Ever. This is me being serious.

So, now that you’ll probably be sneaking onto the Internet pretty regularly now, there are some things that you need to be wary of:

1. The Internet is everywhere.

Literally. By now you can get wireless Internet on the cell phone I will give/gave you when you are/were 16. Do you know what that means? It means any information at all you put up that’s viewable by the public can be seen by anyone in the world. That includes all of the people you go to school with. It includes the creepy gas station attendant staring from across the counter. It includes me. Don’t put stuff on here you don’t want anyone and everyone reading.

2. The Internet is easy to fake.

Trust no one you’ve never met. For whatever reason, people on the Internet will pretend to be people they are not. This includes, disturbingly enough, boys young and old pretending to be girls. It also includes, even more creepily, old women pretending to be young boys. Similarly, it’s easy to fake several identities on the Internet. So if one Joe Diddly vouches for the other, unless you know one of them, neither of them are real.

Don’t put value in the opinions of people you don’t know. In fact, don’t value anyone’s opinion but mine. It’ll be better that way.

3. The Internet never forgets.

Look up at the top right-hand side of the keyboard. You see the button that says “PrtScrn” or something of that nature? That button takes screenshots, pictures of whatever’s on a person’s screen at the time. A split-second is all it takes to immortalize an image. And once that image makes its way onto the Internet, there’s no way to get it back. It out there. No remote possibility of completely erasing it from memory.

You know what I’m talking about. That-which-shall-not-be-named-or-spoken-of. Don’t do it.

4. The Internet is fickle and ruthless.

Much like a horrible sports coach, it will build you up when you do what it wants and tear you apart when you don’t, there is nothing you can do to earn the universal and everlasting approval of the Internet. Nothing. Just like in real life. The difference is it takes much, much more on the Internet to be liked because there are literally a billion+ people on it. And you know what? 99 percent of them suck. Why would you care what someone thinks of you if they suck? I don’t know, but for some reason you crazy girls do. Skip it. It’s not worth your time or energy.

Enjoy it if you accidentally gain a sliver of Internet fame. But don’t become obsessed with it.

5. Al Gore invented the Internet.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

So the next time you see me, be gentle and soothing when you tell me you’ve discovered the Internet. Reassure me you completely understand everything I’ve just said. Promise me you’ll obey it. Because if you don’t, I will send you to the most desolate place in the world where the only thing more scarce than electricity is civilization: Wyoming.

Love You Forever,

Dad

P.S. If you are a boy, you were an accident. Don’t take it personally, I just wish you were born a girl. And you’ll be getting a very different letter. Soon.

One thought on “A Letter to My Future (Female) Offspring

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