How can I help you have an even better AOL experience?
Debra J.M. Smith
2000 - 2005 -- How it all began.
 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

While reading suspense literature, a reader often finds himself on the edge of his seat, reading glasses halfway down his nose and biting the tip of his thumb. Hang in there, I promise you: there is an answer to this question that undoubtedly haunts many a current AOL member.

Valued Member

AOL is notorious for catchy little phrases to make its members feel special, loved, adored, yadda yadda. There was the one that went, "How can I help you have an even better AOL experience?" Gosh, that really sounded so thoughtful, till the same line came out of employee, after employee, after employee, in a rather robotic sort of way. Somehow it lost its feel. After AOL dropped that phrase, probably due to the endless possible suggestions, they incorporated yet another.

I cannot begin to tell you how special I felt the day they told me that my account had me listed as a "Valued Member!" Seriously, I marched myself right into that Beliefs Christian chat room where I had been persecuted for years over my right-wing born again Christian belief posts. Without hesitation, I told them all of my new AOL member status; periodically they needed to be reminded.

Quite an experience

While I was enjoying my valued member status, I was slandered, stalked, and harassed by people who made me their reason for waking in the morning. As they did their thing, AOL placed violation after violation on my valued member account, even for scripture postings. I received so many bogus violations that after a while I came to expect to hear "Good-bye" upon signing on to AOL. I learned to keep my speakers turned down—it lessened the pain. My account inadvertently was terminated twice. While I did accept it back the first time, the second time, I declined.

How's this for wholesome entertainment?

AOL began as a family server and to this day boasts of caring so much about your and my children. So many parents all across America trust AOL as their babysitter. After all, AOL has child protection for emails, parent controls for contents to be viewed, and let's not forget the really cute children desktops.

With AOL coming off as such a family-oriented server, it is not hard for parents to trust AOL with their older teenagers, letting up on the reins and lifting off the parent controls. But I believe AOL is not to be trusted with our children.

Over my five years of being on AOL, I witnessed many teenagers in that Christian chat room. They were looking to talk to Christians about life and often looking for Christian adult guidance. I became concerned as, one by one;  homosexuals began parking themselves in that chat room, often claiming to be Christian, while openly promoting their perverted behaviors. Along with some others, I tried my best to speak Biblical truths.

Such sadness came over me the day I noticed a new category of AOL chats, a whole category devoted to perverted behavior. Under this new category, there were terrible perversions listed by type. Because AOL created these chats, the rooms would be easily seen and easily accessible to teens, just as easy to reach as Christian chats. Within no time, AOL began to run ads to promote these chat rooms. Where? In other AOL created chat rooms, including Christian chat rooms.

The first to go

It got to the point where we outspoken Christians were being accused of harassing, slandering, and even stalking the homosexuals, who clearly became confused and took a wrong turn into the Christian chat and could never find their way back out again. Yes, you read that correctly: people who were clearly against true Christian values came into a Beliefs Christian topic chat room and then cried that we were harassing, slandering, and stalking them. They ended up forming a group designed to, one by one, rid AOL of such Christians as us. I was first on the hit list for being so vocal. Now, please don't get me wrong, I am totally honored that they saw me, this small-town born again Christian home-school mommy, as the biggest threat to modern day perversion. It truly confirmed that my message was piercing a liberal nerve or two, that they would deem me to be "The first to go."

Keep in mind, they came into the Christian chatroom and did this. We did not go looking for them in other chat rooms. Some might ask about the homosexuals who claimed to be Christian. Again, they came into a Christian chat room, so they should not have been shocked to find Christians who believe what the bible says on this topic. Just as homosexuals cannot be forced to think a certain way, so too people like myself cannot be forced to think a certain way. Who sought who out here? They sought us out and got in our faces, not the other way around.

They created an online blog site, devoted especially to me, where there were instructions to report me to AOL via the chat room notification button, continually. There were comment sections for patrollers to report sightings of me, screen names thought to be mine, even chat logs of my every word. (Made up ones were more than welcomed.) I have to admit this did cause me to do some rather odd things, like wearing my sunglasses at night and striking sudden poses, just in case the paparazzi were lurking about.

In all seriousness, this was crazy! But what was far crazier was that an AOL Supervisor, Mark Ludlow was being implicated on this blog site as helping this group to get rid of me.


A top internet server?

On March 15, 2006, my account was terminated for the second time. I recall asking one employee what happened to my "Valued member" status. He said that he could see it on my account notes, right before it was terminated that day. Ahem. Oh, wait, this gets even better; it really does.

Prior to the demise of my valued member account, I had received two more wrongly placed violations, which prompted me to call AOL on both occasions. Each time, AOL said they were sorry for the inconvenience they had caused me. As per protocol, letters were generated thanking me for my continued membership. The letters were dated March 13th and March 15th. Yes, the second one was mailed out on the same day that AOL deemed me not worthy of their server any more. Do we see a pattern here? Do we see a pattern of a company that does not know what they are doing? This would be laughable if not for that some members could be severely hurt by a sudden loss of an account. And most people would not know how to work the maze-system in place to get an account reactivated.

Note that it can take several calls to AOL to get through to an employee who communicates well. I speak only English, and it really is advantageous for me to speak with someone who speaks fluent English. It may be "America Online," but it is often "India on the Phone." Call me crazy, but I think it is a must for a company to provide American customers with fluent English speaking customer-care specialists. One AOL Community Action Team employee, from whom I sought answers pertaining to the termination, as the call was ending, said in a very thick Indian accent,
"Just for calling in today, you are eligible to receive a free computer lesson on AOL." I could hardly contain myself, I am sure you can imagine the dilemma I was faced with. I felt that "Say what?" look come over my face, as I opened my mouth and out came a rather screeching high pitched: "I don't have AOL anymore!"

I also believe that it is important to have care specialists who understand American culture when they are in a position to judge what Americans do and say online. And, am I alone here, or does anyone else wonder how AOL could be so irresponsible as to have Hindus judging Christians' entries in a Christian forum? This is not to mention the many other anti-Christian employees I encountered. I will never forget the Wiccan employee who tried to convince me that Wicca (witchcraft) is all about love and doing good. Where is a bucket of water, when ya need one?

With phone call after phone call came instructions to call here and call there--each department said to talk to another department. It got to the point where it became circular. Bits and pieces of the puzzle came only with hard work and pressing on. It turned out that the supervisor implicated on that blog was, in fact, the one who shut me down. But AOL assured me it was a coincidence. They said the reason my account had been closed was a system error caused by the massive reporting by other members, and that the order to shut down my account had actually been given to that supervisor from some back room where Oz hangs out. And of course no one can reach him by phone. Another supervisor said I would be reinstated in 48 hours, that he would not be happy till I was back on AOL. However, I had seen enough, heard enough, been treated badly enough by AOL, so that I did not want anything further to do with them.

Weeks after my account was closed, an online friend became alerted to strange activity with her AOL account, which prompted her to call AOL. I was on three-way with her for her round of calls. It turned out that the same supervisor, Mark Ludlow, who closed my account was now into hers. He had been into her billing info, and apparently he put some top-secret note on her account that could only be told to us with a court order. I'm not kidding. We also learned more about this man's activities on my account, that his name was actually all over my account, not just a final name stamped on it by orders of some mysterious and unreachable back-room character.

I had more than given this man the benefit of the doubt; at one point I had even defended the man, saying that the same people who lie about me could have easily lied about him. One copy of my US letter, declining the offer to re-open my account, was addressed to this very man. But as it turned out, Mark Ludlow, whose FaceBook page says he has been a senior program manager for AOL since 1995 (
click here) did in fact carry out this nasty deed. 

September 2015 Update: Mark Ludlow's facebook page now shows that he is no longer working there, that he stopped working there in 2014. And his Linked-In page shows he is currently looking for a job. I sent him a little facebook message, letting him know how happy I am about his final AOL demise. And what is really great is that this AOL article of mine comes up when his name along with AOL is searched on Google. Let's hope anyone thinking of hiring him sees it and does not hire him for the same type of work.

Full internet server supplier

Along with supplying dirty chat rooms to any member with a working password, AOL has countless member profiles with links that go directly to online porn. The ads for the profiles go through AOL chat rooms. AOL does not let this little perk be known in their television ads.

AOL claims that it is not possible to block porn from being advertised in their chat rooms. Funny, some other servers have no problem blocking it. Maybe if AOL spent less time plotting to rid the airways of born again Christian mommies, they would have more time to brainstorm ideas to snuff out those porn ads.

Not all was a loss

I learned a lot while on AOL. I had an inside view of these lost souls' agenda on America. I know just how they are planning to run down the morality of this great nation. They are not after getting those who oppose their vile affections, to look the other way and pretend all is normal in the "Johnny just has a different kind-of family" household. The "Get out of their bedroom" plea that they throw up at us conservative types is the furthest thing from what they want. They want us to know, beyond a doubt, what is done in those bedrooms. They want into the rest of society's minds and the minds of our children, to get us to see what they do as normal, just another way of life. They want to infiltrate it all into the public eye, so much that it gets to the point where the sodomite's bed is seen as blessed by God, hence church weddings for anyone and anything and however many of them. The ploy of their agenda is not to get people to overlook what is done, but to accept it and embrace it, and they want to silence those who refuse to comply. They want our government to make it illegal to use anything as a moral measuring tool, by which to measure right from wrong in the USA, making it so that any such measuring tool would be considered religion-based. They have been and still are working hard to change the meaning of what our founding fathers meant by the first amendment--not just to stop the church from telling the state what is right or wrong, but for the state to be able to legally tell the church what is right and wrong: this is exactly what our founding fathers sought to prevent by the first amendment!


What else?

I saw firsthand in that chat room the manipulative snares used on those who would not comply with the cause. There was the divide-and-conquer technique of coming between people of different races, ages, sizes, income classes, and faith beliefs. For example, knowing that I am a nondenominational Christian, and that my teachings go against the Catholic Church teachings, I was often painted as a hater of Catholics. (I have friends and family who are Catholic. Lies are the key to the success of the  cause.) Another way they would entice people into the cause was to falsely accuse them of doing something hateful, causing the defender to bend over backwards to prove their innocence, at which time the person who started the rumor graciously put forth the offer of forgiveness and friendship. The snare that seemed to be enjoyed the most was to verbally abuse people for past sins or present struggles with sin, and then turn around and offer the victim an understanding ear. Making examples of some who oppose the cause, by openly slandering them or mocking their families, often made others submit for fear that they would be next. The one I saw, which worked the best—gaining the strongest of supporters, was to stroke the egos of people who sapped that type of manipulation right up.



The only solution


My stay on AOL gave me constant confirmation of God's instructions on handling the wicked. We believers should never respond to a fool in his folly no matter what lies, slander, or other offenses he throws at us. (I highly recommend all true believers read and study Psalm 37.)

We need to be wise as serpents and gentle as lambs—two things that my Italian, over-passionate spirit often causes me to fall far short in. We should remember that the enemy is as a roaring lion, seeking whom he can devour. Finally, we must pray for God to cause America to turn back to Him, we have left our first love. Scripture says that if God's people turn to Him, He will heal their land. “The grounded Eagle needs to soar again.”


The answer to the question


I am a mother of two daughters, a wife of many years, and a small in-home business owner who also writes, sings, and dreams big. I like to make the best of my time. I now use my MSN account, as my main account; and as you can see from this article, they have great clip-art. MSN also is not over-ran by filth. I made the right choice to be done with my AOL account. So, what was the final straw that made me say "no" to that one AOL supervisor's offer to reinstate my account? Before I was offered my account back, one quite embarrassed employee said to me that there was a note on my account to tell me to "Find a new internet server."
-----Finally! The answer to that ever-haunting question.


        Debra J.M. Smith
            May of 2003

The above group of pics is from my AOL home page.

© Copyright 2006 Debra J.M. Smith
 --April 19, 2006

The Grounded Eagle Needs to Soar Again.



© Debra J.M. Smith