I like to gripe as much as the next guy (more actually) about how the internet gets users in touch with their inner asshole, compelling otherwise responsible, civilized adults to behave like unbalanced morons online. So how on earth did I miss this shining example of web idiocy?
The gist of the story is that Lori Drew, a resident of suburban St. Louis, posed as a teenage boy on MySpace in order to trick a neighborhood girl, 13-year-old Megan Meier, into talking about Drew's daughter, with whom Megan had apparently had a falling out. To gain Megan's trust, Drew thought it appropriate to have her internet persona, "Josh Evans," carry on a month-long flirtation with the girl, then turn nasty and break off the relationship. (Clearly Drew didn't like what Megan had to say about Drew's daughter.) After squabbling with Megan, "Josh" sent a note saying, "I don't like the way you treat your friends, and I don't know if I want to be friends with you." A distraught Megan started emailing other kids to see if they knew who or what had turned Josh against her. Things took a turn for the ugly, Megan grew increasingly upset, and the day after "Josh" ended things she hanged herself.
Megan's parents sought to have Drew charged with some combination of stalking, harrassment, and child endangerment. Just this week, the prosecuting attorney declined--as he almost certainly should have. But, legal issues aside, what kind of mother spends several weeks posing as a teen boy to gain the trust of, extract confidences from, and then emotionally screw around with any child, much less one she knows personally and lives down the street from? Drew may not deserve to serve time, but she clearly needs to have her head examined--and her web privileges revoked.