Hot on the Trail of Wagatha Christie
Thoughts on digital surveillance and IRL connection.
This is sort of random, I admit, but I can’t stop thinking about the “Wagatha Christie” trial, which last week concluded in favor of the defendant, Coleen Rooney, the wife of English football great Wayne Rooney and the so-called Wagatha Christie of the whole affair. Coleen Rooney had been sued for libel by fellow “WAG” (“wives and girlfriends”) Rebekah Vardy after Rooney conducted a sting operation on her Instagram Stories because she suspected Vardy of leaking stories about her to the U.K. tabloid The Sun; Rooney then blocked everyone except for Vardy from viewing her Stories and then watched as the fake gossip she had planted ended up in the newspaper, and published, on her Instagram, an accounting of her detective work (hence “Wagatha Christie”). Vardy denied that it had been she who had viewed the Stories and leaked the gossip, and sued Rooney for libel.
My favorite, most ridiculous part of the trial was when Vardy’s former agent claimed that potentially incriminating texts between the two of them had been lost because her phone had fallen into the North Sea whilst on a boat off the coast of Scotland. The judge’s trial judgment, which is worth reading, was basically like, “LOL, no.”
Maybe I can’t stop thinking about it because of the “Wagatha Christie” moniker, which, let’s be honest, is pretty fucking brilliant, but it’s also a reminder about how we truly cannot outrun our digital trails. We also keep seeing it in the trials of the January 6th insurrectionists, who seem incredulous that their bragging on social media or in text messages or on dating apps would someday be used against them. We see it in CEOs who have affairs with subordinates and lie about what’s on their cell phones. And we see it in the ways in which people are being warned about covering their digital tracks when seeking abortions.
All of this is, I’m sure, not exactly news. We’ve known about the ways in which we can be digitally surveilled for years. And yet, this stuff keeps happening. I think we’ve become so accustomed to living our lives over text, on Slack, on email, and on social media that the digital has melded with the IRL, in the sense that our brains have somehow rewired themselves to think of everything we do online as the exact same as something we say to a friend in person. And I think there’s also a kind of “this won’t happen to me” confirmation bias that some people have because it has not, in fact, happened to them yet. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t.
It’s also just got me thinking about how, after two and a half years of a pandemic, when so much of our lives moved into the digital sphere, people seem to really be craving and needing IRL connection. I’ve mentioned before how I’ve been talking on the phone more, but I’ve also been trying to make more plans with people in person and create community. I think we all need that.
As for Wagatha Christie, I can’t wait to see how else she uses her social media sleuthing powers — hopefully for good — and if she ever wants to meet up to discuss strategy, I’m here.
A Day in the Life chronicles one full day in the life of a mom. If you’re interested in being featured and getting a free year’s subscription, please fill out this form.
Kids: my son is 9 and my daughter is 7
Lives in: Boston suburb with an old cat
Works: Senior Research Associate at a Xenotransplantation bio-tech
Ie a life in two parts: the days with and without my kids. Both kinds of days are great, both kinds of days can be challenging. It's a weird switch to flip. I'm divorced and I've been amicably sharing custody with their dad since 2017.
Days without the kiddos:
4:30 a.m.: My day starts with my elderly cat walking across by head to inform me her automatic feeder has not yet performed its task. Back to sleep until…
6:30 a.m.: She walks across my head again, which means she just ate. I’m awake for real. In the warm months, I get up, put on my big floppy hat (it makes me so happy), and water my flowers in the front yard. I mix up cold brew coffee courtesy of Trader Joe's, brush my teeth, and sunblock my face (Japanese Nivea Water Gel SPF50, I'm looking at you) and hop into my stick-shift Forester (wheeee!).
7:30 a.m.: I drive along the Charles River to work in Cambridge, MA. I'm from a land-locked county in northeastern Ohio, and even though I've lived here for 16 years, the Charles River and the ocean still fill me with joy every time I see them. My day is usually a mix of experiments and meetings with a team I hold dear to my heart. I love the work we do (Pig organs! In people!) and my team is an extension of my family.
4:00 p.m.: I try to run at work, along the river, or at least around the neighborhood at home before it gets dark. Over the last 10 years, I taught myself to run with the single goal of “don’t hate running.” I am now to the point where I look forward to it and I ran my first marathon this year.
5:30 p.m.: Then, we have a mix of THERE ARE NO KIDS HOW SHALL I SPEND MY PRECIOUS SPARE TIME analysis paralysis and "oops I forgot to stuff food in my face." A month ago, my partner of six years and I broke up, so my free time is now spent remembering who I am and what I like. He wasn't controlling, but we had played our parts for so long that we let our exhaustion and autopilot run the show of our evenings. The last time I was single, it was 2002, and I was a freshman in college. This paradigm shift is big and shiny, and also disorienting and sometimes lonely.
So far, I've rediscovered video games, embroidery, puzzles, a few things I apparently enjoy cooking, and not much else because right after he moved out, the kids and I got COVID.
10:30 p.m.: Eventually I shower and then I'm upstairs in bed looking at TikToks of cats, pottery, knitting, woodworking, and Encanto. Then a couple pages on the Kindle before I pass out. Re-reading Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir as comfort food for a brain that has been through an awful lot.
Days with the kiddos
2:37 a.m.: Someone had a bad dream. I sweep up my kiddo and help them get back to sleep in their own bed, hopefully without falling asleep in there myself. I love sleeping with them, but the twin bed is brimming with stuffed animals and there is very little extra space.
6:30 a.m.: I am very grateful my children still like to snuggle, and they come find me when they wake up. With the little one, we play the Lovey Game in which I am given the stuffed animal I will portray and am told the story to be performed. The big guy will snuggle and chat with me for a bit before getting his backpack ready, so he can get in watching some Minecraft videos before school.
7:30 a.m.: Breakfast is usually frozen waffles/oatmeal and berries/yogurt (TWO whole food groups!), then off to school.
9:15 a.m.: On kid days, I try to hustle at work because I arrive later than most of my colleagues (due to the non-negotiable nature of public school drop-off times) and also because I leave earlier on the days as well. Somehow there is ALWAYS an errand that needs to be run, and somehow, it's the grocery store.
4:00 p.m.: With the bounty from Trader Joe’s secured in the trunk and only slightly melting, I pick up the kiddos from their after-school program between 4 and 6 p.m. depending on extracurriculars (he does karate, and she dances). Wednesday night is tacos, Thursdays are Mom's choice (usually pancakes — it's one thing I cook well and more importantly ENJOY cooking). They fill in the gaps before and after dinner with screen time. My son both plays Minecraft and also watches videos about other people playing Minecraft. My daughter enjoys videos about crafting — like making art from items in the recycling bin or repairing and repainting squishies.
7:15 p.m.: A puzzle or a game like UNO or Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza. Something we can do together that isn’t a screen.
7:45 p.m.: Last year, I read them all of Harry Potter, and I've missed it so much; it was hard to find something as wonderful. We've just completed The Hobbit, and next week I'm starting From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
8:15 p.m.: They shower and brush their teeth themselves (but the little one likes to read to me while she poops in the evening, so there's that). Then everybody begrudgingly climbs into their bunk beds, and we do "Days." We talk about our days and try to mention at least one thing we like.
8:45 p.m.: After promises (mostly not empty) about coming back to check on them, I'm downstairs cleaning up from dinner, fitting in a TV show. I've just started This Is Us because I'm in a liminal phase, so why not watch a drama about families and children?
10-something p.m.: On principle I want to stay up later to show the world I CAN, but I'm also falling asleep standing up, so it's shower and bed in anticipation of the 3 a.m. kiddo bad dream extravaganza.
Now We're Talking with Doree Shafrir is a reader-supported publication. To comment on this post and others, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.