Unusual for spotlighting a dancing avatar, pop star Sia’s provocative video for her song “Chandelier” won the 2014 MTV Video Music Award for best choreography—and rightly so. In place of the singer, a prepubescent girl outfitted in a flesh-tone leotard and platinum wig shows off her formidable movement skills in a quirky dance solo that journeys through the rooms of a sparsely furnished apartment.

One day a close friend confided to me, “My mom has been meeting guys in chat rooms, pretending to be me.” It was 1999, in the murky days of online life when we were content to let AOL dictate how we used the internet. Imparting our deepest, darkest secrets to strangers? Sure! Why not? Many people I knew had wandered into chat rooms a few times for fun, but this woman’s behavior was odd. She was a great, seemingly normal 50-something single mother in every other regard. Why would she need to use her daughter as an alias to meet people? I didn’t get it.