Anne T. Donahue
March 27, 2015 3:11 pm

This week I remembered something about myself: I am an excellent Internet detective.

No, but like, I am the best Internet detective. When my friends were in college (shout-out to 2005), we could deduce which crushes of ours were single, who their ex-girlfriends were, what schools they’d gone to, where they lived, and where they were currently hanging out. We also found the cast of Laguna Beach on Facebook one night, but that’s another story. (We didn’t add them, don’t worry, everyone.) We were good. And the good—nay, greatness—carried over into adult life. I can find out anything you want to know about anybody if you give me Google and a little bit of time. I am Veronica Mars, minus the equipment to do background checks.

In short, I am Harriet the Spy.

We owe a lot to Harriet. If she existed at a kid in 2015, she’d dazzle us with her high-tech sleuthing and put even V-Mars to shame with what she’d dig up. She’s make mincemeat out of Facebook, and teach us a thing or two about what Catfishing really meant. She is ultimately an Internet pioneer.

And that’s just one of the things I learned from the movie.

1. So yes: Harriet the Spy invented Facebook

Hear me out. This kid, this 11-year-old sixth-grader, walks around keeping track of everything via notebook. She knows who’s going where, what time, why, and she’s paying attention. She has friends, but also enemies (hello, Zuckerberg story), and then she uses that information. Did Mark Zuckerberg cross the real Harriet the Spy IRL and earn revenge by inventing Facebook and publishing all her information? Probably not. This is a fictional story. But so were elements of The Social Network and I like my theory best.

2. Never, ever commit incriminating evidence to one location

In high school, my best friend and I wrote all our notes in a notebook that we passed back and forth between classes. Said notebook contained every secret crush, every secret (and not-so-secret) comics, drawings, and then depictions of what me and my friend imagined our lives to be like when married to the guys we had crushes on. (I never said we were cool or rational.) Then one day, it went missing. THIS BOOK WENT MISSING. Guys, I can’t tell you the fear of looking at our fellow classmates and thinking, “They know.”

“They know I want to get a collie with [crush’s name],” I’d think. “They know I think he’ll grow up to look like Colin Firth. They all know.”

But they didn’t. Turns out my friend accidentally left the book behind the door of her room, and when we found it, we wept with joy and then never used it again. This didn’t happen to Harriet. Marion (her enemy) finds the notebook, and all hell breaks loose. This is now why our “notebooks” have passwords on them or they do not leave our homes. This is also why we should spread our ideas among more than one notebook because I HAVE LEARNED.

3. You can come back from everyone finding out what you were saying about somebody

And I say this because a) I have done my share of getting busted for talking smack as an adult, and b) I once sent the wrong message to somebody on ICQ about them, thinking they were someone else. (And I did that on Twitter as well, but that’s a tale for another day.) I’ve also had my ICQ history sent to a person I was talking about, and then had that person confront me in the middle of school. So how do you deal?

I’ve learned that the only way to come back is to fess up. Fess up, hard. Fess up and say, “YEP, I think and/or said these things and I’m sorry.” And then there’s not really much else anybody can do. If you lie, you’ll only make the wrath worse, but if you own up, the fun is gone for the angry person and you can usually just talk about it. Do not run away, just own up. At least, that’s what I’ve done, and good news! I’m still here to tell the tale.

4. Marion — the bully — was probably just as outsider-feeling as Harriet

Now, to bring you up to speed: Marion was the bully who made Harriet’s life terrible (as well as many others’), and she’s also the only one who, after stealing Harriet’s notebook, doesn’t accept Harriet’s apology (which is why she becomes the victim of the stink bomb). But like, damn. First, how miserable must Marion have been in actual life to continue being so mean to a person who obviously has only her notebook as a true blue? (No pun intended, see: paint being spilled on Harriet.) Second, who doesn’t accept an apology? WHO? What was wrong with her? Why was she so mean to her two friends? Was Marion a sociopath? MAYBE. And if that’s the case, this story is even darker than I thought it was. (I mean, what’s up with Harriet’s parents? Golly was just trying to live her life!)

Anyway. The lesson is this: if you ever come up against a bad person who won’t accept your apologies, that is bizarre and probably better that they’re not in your life anymore. Clearly they’re dealing with bigger things. (Like the fact she’s obviously not processing her parents’ divorce.) And frankly, I’d like to read a book about Marion’s side of things. Girlfriend was not living the easy life.

5. But seriously: Golly deserves her own film

Harriet is a boss and we know this. If she doesn’t grow up to be a P.I., then what was the point of even getting up today? She could also be a writer, and that would be fine.

ANYWAY.

What about Golly? She’s a nanny, sure, but what about Mr. George Waldenstein? What happened there? And how did Golly become a nanny? And where did she go after? (If you know, tell me. I need to remember.) And what was her deal? We deserve to know. She’s the person who tells Harriet to keep writing, and technically Harriet would be a writer by now, so is this the reunion movie we deserve? Is it the one we need right now?

Golly, you guys. A character I’d like to know more about. And not just because of her affinity for hats.

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