I've covered murders, grisly accidents, airplanes falling out of the sky and, occasionally, dirty politics.
But in nearly two decades of journalism, nothing has made my insides churn like seeing what my 13-year-old daughter and her friends are up to on MySpace.com.
Here's a bulletin I recently found posted to her site:
"OMG! Add this hott guy! He will whore the first 20 people added to his friends list.... Add him! You can do it in his van!"
Loosely translated, the teenage girl was "pimping" a teenage boy, shown smooching his guitar, as a potential new friend -- or more -- for my daughter. If Taylor added him to her MySpace "friends" list, the tousled-hair teen would be able to look at her website and send messages to her.
The soliciting girl made the pitch to all 245 of her own "friends" with a simple keystroke.
In the MySpace world, this is called a "whore code." It's a mild -- very mild -- example of the coarse language and often profane messages that are plastered all over the social networking site like graffiti on bathroom walls.
It was this coarseness and an abject lack of manners (not to mention extremely poor grammar) that bothered me the most as I entered the second month of a deal that I had worked out with my often headstrong daughter.
Though MySpace tells users that they must be at least 14 years old to join, all it takes is a casual search to see that the requirement is routinely violated. All of the kids at her junior high had MySpace accounts, Taylor pleaded. Why couldn't she?
After consulting with a circle of friends and relatives, I relented. I'd let Taylor have a MySpace site, I told her, but only if she agreed to follow some rules.
The first was that her site would have to be set to "private." That meant that only those she had preapproved as "friends" could see her page.
Next, she could not add as a friend anyone she did not personally know.
We also agreed that no foul language or inappropriate materials could be used.
And, most important, she had to give me complete access to her site, including a password that let me view hidden e-mails.
Taylor was so excited that she immediately agreed to everything and signed the contract that we had drawn up.
In the high of the moment, I felt good too. I had found a way to allow my daughter an activity that she seemed to love while protecting her from online predators -- my biggest worry.
But in the days and weeks to come, our honeymoon glow would turn to alarm on my part and an increasing boldness on hers. And I would find it harder and harder to balance my parental instincts with technologies that seemed to me to be rewriting the rules of adolescence.
This all started in late December when my cellphone rang as I was walking into a grocery store. It was the mother of one of Taylor's friends, explaining that she needed Taylor's help to shut down her own daughter's MySpace account.
Taylor, then 12, had helped the daughter set up a site without the mother's permission, and only Taylor knew the password necessary to delete it.
All of this was news to me. With an embarrassed apology, I promised to set things straight.
I didn't know much about MySpace.com then. I've since had to do my homework.
MySpace, I learned, was created by a couple of Santa Monica tech-heads, and over its two-year life, it has become the biggest website that allows people to find dates, keep in touch and socialize. If you sign onto the site, now owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., you get free personal "space" to post profile information and photographs, write blogs, link music and send e-mails to other members. MySpace claims 68 million members, up more than 20 million in just the three months since I began visiting it.
Some of its fans are young adults. Many are kids like Taylor.
Our relationship had become stormy of late. Taylor resisted spending time with the family and seemed more concerned with her social life than anything else.
I wasn't surprised that she found MySpace fascinating. As a little girl, she constantly questioned me about the world around her and was not satisfied with simple answers.
She wanted to know not just how things work but why they were that way. Why are those people poor, Mommy, and why isn't everything free? If my answer didn't square with her sense of justice, there would be a whole new round of whys. She was always curious.
I could see that MySpace was a challenging and fun new universe for her to explore -- only this time, she wasn't seeking my guidance.
When I confronted her about the mother's call, Taylor sheepishly admitted that she had become something of a MySpace guru for her circle of friends. She helped them set up accounts and even designed their pages if they asked.
Yes, she had her own page, Taylor said. She showed it to me.
Looking back, I realize that my reaction had little to do with the primping photographs of young girls, creepy "bulletins" and occasional foul language that I found on her site.