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Saturday, 3 March 2012

The new bogeyman

When I was a kid I think I had a traditional set of fears. Way, way back it was monsters, although ironically I love them now and spend all my spare time writing about them (agreeably people hacking their heads off). Then it moved onto separation related things- you know, like being abducted or losing my folks- that sort of thing. I had the Dr Who behind the sofa fears. My doctor was Tom Baker and the first season I really remember was the wonderful run of gothic horror style episodes from seasons 13 to 15 (Pyramids of Mars, Talons of Weing Cheng, the Fendhal etc). One that especially sticks was the Horror of Fang Rock, with the Rutan blobbing up the stairs of the lighthouse. Petrified!

And it's funny seeing the fears coming out in my kids. Yet there's an oddity or two that is curious to think of. First of all the two eldest (now 9 and 8) had very different ones. Charlie- the dreamer- has always been monsters and imaginary horrors until recently. He was terrified when he was 4 and we took him to a Halloween party- clung to me like a limpet all night (and I look like a vampire on my good days). He's been afraid of ghosts in his room, monsters outside, scarecrows on Dr Who, and weird stuff like being turned into a doll or converted into a drawing (all very Tales of the Unexpected). Of late, he's got more rational- now he's afraid of being abducted. Fair enough.

Evelyn- the pragmatic one- was always afraid of dangerous animals (although you could call fear of sharks in Devon a touch irrational) and disease. I've no idea where this last one comes from but she is seriously hypochondrical at 8. Her love of Horrible Histories fuels her concern about the return of the Plague. Perhaps she knows about an Al'Quaeda attack we don't...

But the best one yet is the new bogeyman. Now I was never afraid of the bogeyman, because he was never on Dr Who and the comic by Raymond Briggs made him a green joke. But it would seem that there is a new bogeyman in town...and he's called the Hacker.

Sorry... The Hacker.

At first I thought it was a mad axeman chopping up naughty children and keeping them in jars in his basement in a Roald Dahl type fashion. But no, it's a cyber-fear. They all discuss it at school, when they talk about kids social network sites like Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin. The Hacker is a cyber-bogey man who creeps around the internet destroying your Moshi Monster. He can be anywhere, lurking on the fringes of your screen... My son came home one day and told me that a kid at school had seen him! Anticipating he would be an acne ridden Speed Metal fan with aviator shades on I questioned further. No, my lad says, he's been seen by his mate Jacob actually on Moshi Monsters. He's a being made from shadow that slunk across the screen and gave the Moshlings a good kicking.
(Further questioning elucidated that this was the same Jacob who told Charlie his hand had been bitten off by a shark and replaced with a rubber one...).

The kids were freaked, avoiding going on the computer without me nearby (not a bad thing) and blaming any computer problem on the new bogeyman. They discussed him at school, worried about him at night and generally used him as an excuse not to go to sleep at lights out.

The Hacker! WTF. We are truly in a new age my friends when the scariest thing is an amorphous entity on the inter-net killing virtual pets. The kids think of dangerous viruses as ones that mash your hard drive up, not ones that give you meningitis. They fret about their on-line pets when they forget to feed them. It's bonkers.

Then I think about the hours I spend tapping away on computers at night. I think about all the tweets I send and jokes I share with people I've never really met. I think of hours of my life drained by the vampyric Facebook. And am I surprised by the new fears of my kids?

So I did the only thing I could. Told them that statistically they're far more likely to be run over by a car than abducted, eaten by monsters, blown up by a bomb, crash in an aeroplane, swallowed by a shark or rotted by the Plague.

Now they're afraid of cars.


  1. I must confess that I too am fearful of this new monster. He/she can do whatever with virtual pets, but please leave my email accounts, hard drives and passwords alone! Loved this post, Ross!

    1. Thanks Kathleen- to be fair, the kids were spot on with regards this. Judging by the chaos that ensues on the brothels that are social network sites when viruses and hackers pop up, they truly are the new bogeymen.

  2. We are all figments of your imagination of course, so imagine I posted something witty here and also imagine that I am more successful... thank you :)

    1. My imagination is a curious place, Stephen...

  3. I loved your post. It was very entertaining :)

    1. Thanks, Lynette. I don't need much excuse to post pictures from Dr Who.