In this unique take on social media’s intrusive capabilities, Mike Fisher adopts a sinister fictional persona. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Right now, I’m breaking into your bedroom.
The lock was no problem, I’d got the key off a guy you used to go to school with. You haven’t spoken to him for a while, there was never really much you two had in common if we’re honest. Still, the point is that you gave him your key the day after you met him, and now, three years later, he’s lent that key to me.
Once I’m in your bedroom, I shut the door behind me and begin to browse around. Blue-tacked to the wall next to me are a few pictures of your family. You appear to have two brothers. Their names are helpfully scribbled underneath: Ryan and Josh. And there are your parents, smiling on holiday somewhere. You can tell they’re on holiday because of the red faces. Exposed arms, burnt cheeks and big grins. They look happy.
I walk over to your desk, where I notice you’ve left a piece of paper. It’s a printout of email correspondence you had yesterday with a friend called Chloe. It started out with her sending you a message about some TV show I’ve never watched, and then it developed into a pretty long back-and-forth conversation about all sorts of things. It’s mainly you two getting nostalgic about your first week at university so a lot doesn’t interest me. What does interest me is the amount of stuff I find out about you, just from the references you make.
You watch Peep Show. You regularly make lasagne though you claim to be a useless cook. You bank at Natwest (they’ve recently been messing you around a lot apparently). You are currently trying to diet. You have a double lecture on a Thursday afternoon which you detest. You doubt the professed sexuality of the man who delivers that lecture. You’ve been struggling at home recently. Your parents are arguing all the time and you’re sick of it; you’re dreading going back in the summer. And you’re going to fail your exams next week because you haven’t done enough revision. Ah, they all say that.
I rise from the chair and take a wander around. The minutiae of your identity are sprawled across your room in the form of little clues. I do love a good detective story.
You have a hockey stick and a tennis racquet: not too difficult to work out which sports you like. On your bookshelf sit the works of Dawkins, Chomsky and Woolf. You’re a liberal atheist, possibly a feminist. A glance at some of the other authors confirms all three of those assertions. Your DVD collection suggests you’re a fan of period dramas, chick flicks and classic Hollywood. Bit clichéd for a woman your age, I suspect that some of those films are for show. I bet you like a good sci-fi or an erotic thriller like the rest of us.
A pair of roller blades poke out from underneath your bed; a certificate of enrolment in the University of Southampton hangs on the wall alongside your birth certificate; there’s a dirty mug left on the floor with the name of your old school written on it; the posters on your wall tell me you’re inspired by Barack Obama, that you like Peep Show quotes (I already knew that) and that you fancy Gerard Butler.
Butler will have to wait his turn though because the annotated photograph on your bedside table tells me that you’re currently dating a guy called Ashley Dewsbury. Shame. You’re quite attractive.
But how attractive? Well, I feel only a detailed inspection of multiple sources will enable me to arrive at a well-informed conclusion about that. So I search through your drawers till I find what I’m looking for: the photo album.
There are literally thousands of pictures of you here. I rifle through them impatiently. You at parties, you at the park, you with your family on that holiday where your parents caught the sun so badly, you playing hockey, you at more parties, you getting ready for parties, you in your new car, you in your sixth form… the Album of You seems endless. And a bit conceited. Still, I’m in no place to take the moral high ground.
I stand in the middle of the room, this treasure trove of information, this shrine to your existence, and I find myself waxing philosophical.
Some people – not me, you understand – but some people, might use your bedroom key to their advantage. Salesmen might take interest for instance (Peep Show DVDs would be a good place to start in your case). Perhaps a pervert could get their kicks here. Maybe even a couple of shady types who fancy making a few transactions in your name would value that key. Of course they’d need a few other official documents so they might have to track you down first.
But since you’ve written your current location on the door, that shouldn’t take too long should it?
I turn and walk out the door again, leaving no trace that I had ever been here. Breaking into bedrooms is my vice. And, let’s be honest, it’s yours as well.