A 13-year-old can wear net trunks
How we used to piss off pedophiles in Bluewin chat
Neither we nor a pedophile, just a guy in front of his laptop. Photo by Irais Peraza; Wikimedia Commons; CC BY-SA 4.0
At a time when the Internet was Web 1.0, pocket money was actually always spent directly on the Internet for hours and hours mostly on the Internet. During this time, those parts of the Internet where there were no pictures were the best, as pictures cost important francs per hour. Since I was around 13 at the time and therefore everything seemed a lot more "fearful" and fairytale-like to me, I imagine that the normal Internet was what the Darknet is today (although that is definitely hopelessly exaggerated, I'm just never in the Darknet).
We were try-and-error children and therefore tried out funny things, for example using the Windows Messenger and MSN Messenger client you could be in the same chat with two different accounts at the same time. So we invited the village (better: agglo) Nazis, who mostly had email addresses like [email protected]otmail.com, into chats and beat our real accounts together with our own fake accounts. It didn't make much sense, but all the more fun. The afternoons went by and it always made more sense than gaming.
Photo by Bortzmeyer; Wikimedia Commons; CC BY-SA 3.0
At that time, we also logged into the Bluewin chat three times a day. According to official figures, 6,000 people were in the Bluewin chat at the same time at peak times. At first we were always kicked out by the administrators because it took a while to check that whole sentences in capital letters were understood as "shouting". In the large mass chat, however, nobody could have a conversation anyway, because the feed did the whole thing Time with statements like "Milano per siempre!" or "FC Aarau — die Geilscht!" was blocked. There were also hundreds of themed chat rooms, such as the popular "rüebliland" room.
After a short period of familiarization, we also understood that you can play with identities in chat rooms. At some point we were among those who logged in with the nickname "girl_14".
There were two reasons for this: If we logged in under a nickname with which we identified ourselves - I would say "Psychokatalog", something that is thought to be original at that age - we were real shit. We hardly dared to talk to any strangers, Not to mention exchanging numbers and when we lied in the chat, about our age, we would blush in front of the CRT screens.
The second reason was that as "girl_14" or "Melissa_12" we were much more interesting for other users. I swear that until the Bluewin chat was closed, you could go online as "girl_14" at any time of the night and had five open chats within ten seconds: "Hey, how gohts?" "Hey, what do you do?" The whole program of the hyped harmlessness. Who these people were, who most liked to talk to people who consider themselves so generic that they only define themselves by gender and age, is still not clear to me. They didn't call themselves "boy_16" or "creepydude_42" either.
In 2009, when we hadn't been there for at least five years, the Bluewin chat was closed. The operator no longer wanted to be exposed to the charge that the Bluewin chat enables pedophiles to come into contact with children. There were few individual cases and a lot has been invested in prevention for a long time. I cannot judge what exactly this prevention had achieved. In fact, the administrators kicked out anyone who swore; even capital letters were followed. But what happened in individual chat happened in individual chat. It was as isolated as a bedroom.
Despite the preventive measures, it was really not difficult to be sexually harassed and we provoked that on a regular basis. Sometimes it was harmless, even boring: We logged in as "girl_14", were contacted by some older man, gave him a fake MSN address and chatted with him until we got bored. Maybe it was lucky that we were 13 and therefore had the attention span of 13-year-olds, otherwise we would have experienced more intimacies from men who actively and bluntly seek contact with children.
A couple of times, however, it turned into real horror parties: On one evening that was becoming a permanent memorial in our childhood anecdotes, one of my friends wanted people to call him on his cell phone because his provider gave him free text messages for calls, so we chose us into the text desert "Bluewin-Chat" - and routinely as "girl_14". We were bombarded with inquiries and chose the chat partners "molliger_man" and "strumpfhosenliebhaber_37". The first one called us too, but I don't really remember the conversation. We wrote to the second that we were wearing fishnet stockings (13-year-old humor), which, surprisingly, he didn't find that tingling. He was more into cotton and nylon.
After a while we gave him "our" number. He called, the one of us who was wonderfully able to imitate girls' voices answered the phone - I just couldn't because my normal voice still sounded like girls. "Pantyhose lover_37" called ; we switched to speakerphone and suppressed our giggles.
pantyhose lover_37: "Hello, are you elei diheime?"
"No, mini colleague is no do."
"And what are you doing?"
"Do you like tights ah?"
"And your parents aren't at home?"
"And what if your parents aren't at home?"
"Aha, but don't you have any other interests?"
"Does your broth de scho develop?"
"How old are you?"
"And do you gärn dis Fützli caress?"
Then we snorted and our "speaker" pressed the button with the red receiver. We certainly experienced (and provoked) such evenings five or six times. They were actually sexual assaults, but we found them funny because they remained virtual. And we also had little idea whether our chat and telephone partners really thought we were a 12-year-old or whether they weren't more interested in cute boys and took the role-play with us to the extreme.
It was just a joke for us, but I have no idea what happens (to you) when you enter into a conversation with the expectation that you will have a nice girl or a nice boy on the line. Such adult freaks were constantly chatting with new nicknames and they will probably not only have come across children / adolescents who were after fooling around.
Other early adolescent trips to the Internet had worse, real consequences for me, such as the one IQ test that led to the side of a dialer and which ended up costing my father around 300 francs. Nevertheless, I am a little shocked today that these chat experiences are a natural part of our youth anecdotes. And not just to mean: I know tons of people who had the same hobby.
When I was 16 - Bluewin chat still existed there - an old sack ran after me all over Aarau. He mumbled and came closer and closer. When I turned around and asked, "Do you have a problem?" He repeated what he was muttering the whole time, "Do you want me to stick your tail?" It took me a second, then I swore as I could. It took off, but the experience haunted me for a while. It was probably because it did not happen in the supposedly safe framework of the Internet, but in the real world. The Internet is not a playground, every word and every action has consequences in (inner) life, but we still mistake everything that happens on the screen for a game. And today, unlike in the peak times of the Bluewin chat, we still have a constant connection to the network in our pocket or handbag. I don't like to imagine what would have happened if Chatroulette or even Snapchat had shaped our late childhood instead of Bluewin chat.
Benj on Twitter: @biofrontsau
Vice Switzerland on Twitter: @ViceSwitzerland
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