When I was twelve, my internet exploration expanded. I found my way to conspiracy sites and then back around to sites that promoted skepticism and critical thinking. It was a total paradigm shift, as between the ages of twelve and fourteen I went from a Noah's Flood-doubting Jesusite to a full-blown atheist. To be sure, it was mostly my initiative: I became active in questioning the things in the Bible that didn't make any sense (starting with the flood) and worked my way to the actual scientific questions of evolution and the big bang. I was absolutely relentless in this search for knowledge.
It was somewhere in the middle of that period of rapid change where Somebody On That Internet first showed his face.
When I started openly questioning the doctrines of Christianity, asking my parents to source their statements or tell me how things were the least bit rational, they had a curious defense: Somebody On That Internet must be training me to be anti-Christian.
During this period, I had no internet friends, it was just me and Google, plus occasional regular sites like Bad Astronomy. To them, being from a hardcore Christian culture, it must have made no sense for someone so young to be able to think for themselves, so they had to invent a villain who was trying to warp my mind.
Somebody On That Internet didn't just dabble in skepticism, however. Somebody On That Internet was also the first (and last) person to go around trying to convert people to transsexuality.
My first time coming out as transgender was in 2005, when I would have been between fourteen and fifteen. I had been caught "crossdressing" no less than four times over the preceding 7 years and they probably knew that even after the last time I didn't stop.
In retrospect, they had to know. Like atheism, it was just a phase, they knew what I wanted more than I did, and it wasn't "to be a girl." After coming out as transgender, I was told that Somebody On That Internet was brainwashing me into bad things, first turning me into an atheist and then making me think I didn't want to be a boy. Clearly, Somebody On That Internet was a master of manipulation.
Unlike most internet friends who fade in a few years, Somebody On That Internet was clearly in for the long haul.
I wasn't ready to come out as a communist, considering how brutally everyone spoke of them, but I was moving in that direction. Gradually, my public political views went further and further left. Who was to blame for this leftward shift? You guessed it; "Somebody On That Internet is feeding you things that ain't true. I don't know where Somebody On That Internet gets their information but it's wrong."
Not satisfied with converting me to atheism, making me think I'm transgender, turning me into a dirty bisexual, and trying to convert my parents to atheism, Somebody On That Internet for some reason wanted to change my political views to something every bit as radical.
Sometime towards 2008 and 2009, I basically gave up the fight. They weren't budging, I wasn't either. I went off to university and Somebody On That Internet seemingly disappeared from my life. Peace, however, was not to last very long at all.
In 2011, it was apparent I was legitimately a communist, transgender, an atheist. All doubt was removed, these things were accepted as is. Yet when trying to talk about them, bring up new information (new to me or new scientific/political studies), Somebody On That Internet made his return. After three years of peace, Somebody On That Internet came back to make sure I wasn't getting out of this godless communist transgender hole that he had dug me into.
Thanks, Somebody On That Internet and Somebody Else On That Internet.
Though I had nearly no access to the internet until I was 18, any time I would say something that didn't reflect their orthodoxy, be it political, or religious, I would get the question "Who told you that?", as though I couldn't have possibly come up with those ideas on my own, no matter how minor in the grand scheme of things they were.
Looking back, I realize it's a tacit admission of how fundamentalist parents view children as property, with no real opinions or rights of their own. They think of raising children as programming a robot, information in, information out. If the "robot" is churning out ideas that run counter to theirs, it couldn't possibly be coming from their own mind, it had to be "someone else" entering bad programming code, and the exposure to "someone else" must end to stop it.