An interesting little insight came about through messing around with missionaries on Mormon.org.
I was pretending to be a missionary, using the script they rely on to speak with folks who come to their chat box and ask questions. The conversation was intentionally confusing, as you see below. I adopted the name “Courtney” from a missionary I had just conversed with on an earlier chat thread.
Courtney (that’s me): Hi!
–Now Chatting with Joseph– (This is the real missionary)
Joseph: Hi! This is Joseph and Thomas. How are you?
C: Hi Joseph! We have a prophet named Joseph. Would you like to learn more about him and the Restored Church? [Again, I’m pretending to be one of them, talking to an investigator named Joseph / Thomas]
Thomas: Sounds great!
C: So what is your question Joseph?
Joseph: What can we help you with?
C: That’s what I was wondering. How can I help you today?
[after some delay…]
C: Wait, are you a missionary too? This is so funny! I thought you were an investigator!
Thomas: You know it 🙂
C: I’m totally confused now. I’m a missionary. I think the system has been hacked or something.
Thomas: What mission are you in?
C: Honolulu. You?
Thomas: What is your last name?
C: Sorensen. You? This is sooooo weird! I’m checking with the office elders.
Thomas: Are you an online missionary?
Here is where the little game exposed something. Apparently, I convinced Thomas/Joseph that I was possibly a real LDS missionary, so much so that they began to ask rather unscripted questions, while checking their databases. These questions are the sort an officer of the state would ask strange persons who are found where they shouldn’t be. Papers! What is your name? What mission are you in?
Now I’m inside, right? I start typing “I’m a full time missionary” but delete it, and instead typed, “I’m doing an online split for two hours.” Then I hit /send/. I never hit /send/ until I had deleted the “full time missionary” text, and replaced it with “doing an online split.”
So? Thomas responds, aggressively now (using the wrong ‘your’):
Thomas: Your a full time Elder or your doing an online split for two hours? Your story changed.
I never sent the “full time” text. He was reading my screen while I typed. Not merely seeing what I typed after I hit “send”. I was stunned, obviously a sign of how naïve I am about internet communication.
I checked this pre-send surveillance by typing, “are you full time?” while not actually sending it. And he replied, “No, I am not full time.” So I typed, and didn’t send, “Are you reading my screen, before I hit ‘enter’? Creepy!” And I didn’t hit /send/ this time, either. Here’s what Thomas wrote, in response to what I hadn’t actually sent:
Thomas: You would know wouldn’t you?
Courtney: [typing…not yet hitting /send/] You would know, wouldn’t you?
Thomas: Yes, I would know.
He jumped out of the chat quickly, with a “Yup 🙂 Its no secret” and “God bless!”
Now, he seems like a nice enough kid, just doin’ his job, as they say. And a secret it may not be, but there’s nothing alerting the incoming chatter on Mormon.org that their keystrokes inside the chat box are being recorded and read by an online missionary, whether you hit “send” or not. So, to whom is it NOT a secret? Apparently to online missionaries. And now it’s not a secret to a few others, as well…
I just wish Jesus had a Mormon.org profile. Hi! I’m the Creator of Heaven and Earth, I like redeeming, donkey rides, walks on the beach and on the water, and I’m a Mormon!