I have been privileged recently to be in contact with the man who calls himself “Shadow;” a man who, for some, has become a menace to our small campus society, and whom others view as a brother who is reaching out in search of Christian love. His blog and hacking have caused significant controversy on our campus, eliciting a wide variety of both callous and forgiving responses. Many of you may have taken advantage of the opportunity he extended to email him via his blog, but only The Talon has been granted an interview for publication.
DISCLAIMER: I do not know who Shadow is. Please do not ask me. I respect his privacy just as I respect anyone else who would wish to remain anonymous, for the sake of my own integrity, and for the integrity of The Talon.
Talon: When did you first get the idea to hack?
Shadow: The idea first came to me towards the end of last semester. I had happened across a website that somebody had hacked in a humorous way, and I thought to myself, “I bet I could figure out how to do that.” Curiosity killed the cat, so to speak.
T: How long have you been hacking, and where did you gain the skills?
S: I have been “hacking” since I got the idea, late last semester when I first hacked into a Facebook account here at the college. I’ve always had a decent bit of computer knowledge, but it’s not actually something I’ve ever done before until very recently.
T: What was your purpose in hacking the networks on campus?
S: I think it’s important for people to understand security, and to be aware when their information is not as safe as they think. But honestly, the real reason that I did what I did was just to have fun! I did not realize the stir that my actions would cause, I had originally thought of posting secret Facebook statuses as being akin to, say, sliding a secret note under somebody’s door. Obviously I was wrong in that regard.
T: Are you solely responsible for the mischief on campus lately, or do you have comrades?
S: I am not fully aware to what extent mischief has been happening on the campus lately! I know that there plenty of mischievous people on campus besides me. If a prank is not mentioned on my blog, then I most likely was not involved with it.
T: What kind of attention, if any, did you hope to attract by hacking/pulling pranks?
S: I’ve always found pulling pranks fun. I think that people need a diversion, some excitement, every once in a while. I’m not looking for attention for myself, though, I much prefer remaining anonymous.
T: How did the response differ from what you had hoped to get?
S: Oh, my. As I said, I did not know that my hacking was going to be construed as anything more than innocent fun. There are some wonderful people who understand and who have been forgiving, but for the most part, people have been in an uproar over what I did. That was not the response that I had hoped for at all. I stopped hacking as soon as I found out that it was hurting people.
T: Care to share which pranks you have been involved in, and which are the works of others, perhaps trying to frame you?
S: If somebody does a prank using my name and it is *not* on my blog, then I 100% had nothing to do with it. And if I do a prank, of course I will use my name so you know it was me. Based on the possibility that other people may try to use my name to cover up their crimes, I will post some clarification like this on my blog soon!
T: What is the significance of a villain suit?
S: As all good superheroes or super-villains know, a suit is a necessity. It keeps one’s identity safe. It is also a lot of fun to wear. Besides, if I did not have a villain suit, nobody would be running around campus convinced that I am Darth Vader.
T: Are you the student masquerading as Darth Vader? If not, are you connected in some way to him?
S: Nope, I’m not Darth Vader – I don’t know who he is either.
T: What made you cease the hacking?
S: I ceased hacking because I found out that it was bothering/offending/hurting/scaring people. Jokes aren’t supposed to hurt people. Christians aren’t supposed to hurt people. I was also told that what I was doing was potentially illegal, and that influenced my decision too, although I had not confirmed whether or not that was true when I made my apology.
T: Did you learn anything from this experience?
S: I have not learned so much in a long time! Mostly, I learned that I need to be much more careful when I act. In the future I will be asking opinions and doing research so as to not risk another fiasco like this one. I will make sure that everything I do is truly the innocent fun that I intend it to be. I also learned through this experience that there are a lot of awesome, loving, forgiving Christians on this campus. Thanks for sticking up for me y’all.
T: How do you feel about the explosion of comments on your blog?
S: Obviously people could be less judging and condescending, and more forgiving. But people have always been that way, and people’s attitudes are always amplified on the internet, where everybody talks without thinking, and where everybody is more willing to be offensive and rude. Based on my knowledge of how people act online, I wasn’t taken aback by any of the comments I received.
T: What do you hope that other people will take away from this experience?
S: As for what I think people should take away from the experience – it would be vain of me to act like I am worthy of teaching everybody a lesson, or anything like that. Everybody did some crap right, and everybody did some crap wrong. I think that God puts all sorts of people through all sorts of things, and that whoever we are, on whatever side of the issue, we can all use those things to learn and to grow closer to Him in our own personal way. Eh?
T: What are your future plans as a member of the TFC community?
S: I would certainly like to use my skills to help the TFC community at large. Knowing how the internet works, and how to take advantage of that, can be useful. A missionary in China, for example, might want to learn how to keep the government from tracing his/her online activity. We cannot underestimate the power of the internet to help – and hurt – our Christian lives and individual callings.