Listen: Even in Real Life, There Were Screens Between Us
"Caitlin Dewey was a senior in college orage when she thought she'd met the man of her dreams and then she decided to spend some time with him in person Isa Ray who recently starred in the movie little reads Caitlyn to his essay even in real life there were screens between us crawled up at the foot of my bed. My face inches from the laptop screen. I stared anxiously at Google. Chatterbox will is typing. The box told me helpfully force myself to read email. I waited for his message. Then I refresh rush my twitter feed scroll through my blog post and began brushing my teeth. Still the box said will is typing. Don't you dare get hurt by this. I met at around my toothpaste. This was a stupid idea and you knew that from the start but recognizing the stupidity of falling for someone on the Internet does not prevent you from doing it. My friends net a college radio. Dj Chats constantly with some music bloggers. She met on Tumbler. My friend to one who lives in Los Angeles days up until after three to talk to his London base girlfriend and I had just driven nearly eleven hundred miles round round trip to visit. Will I guy I met in October at a web journalism conference and got to know almost entirely on skype. I I noticed him across the table at a noisy hotel bar will own thick black frame glasses but no hairbrush comb traits that lent him the look of a basement bound attacker. If you've ever attended an Internet conference you understand how Pale skin thick glasses and scruffy hair can be attractive otherwise I can't explain it to you you in either case I liked wills weirdly overconfidence smirk and his obsession with wordpress he regaled me with the merits of plug ins and PHP until I became tired and went to bed. I'll find you on twitter. I joked when I left. I didn't expect or even want to see will again again after that weekend since he lived three states away further facetime seemed unlikely. I followed his twitter pose with detached curiosity city in January G. Chadha me to complain about work then he got drunk and message me again sometime near midnight as I uploaded photos. There's an otherwise wasted bandwidth with obvious sarcasm he wrote. Do you have that skyping. Kids talk about these days. I I've read that. Ninety percent of human communication is nonverbal skype capture that ninety percent on a low resolution video camera compresses it funnels it to a node computer and reproduces it on a screen anywhere in the world skype eliminates distance. That's why it works and and that's exactly what it did for us with my skype screen open and my Webcam on I. viscerally felt that will was sitting a food away on my bed. Ignoring The Times the picture froze or his voice cut out. I thought he looked in sound exactly like he did in person sometimes times when he leaned into the computer to read an article I'd sent him. I could see the pores on his face. We started video chatting for hours every night. Uh He from an ascetic all white bedroom me from the cupcake print corner of my studio apartment I learned that he ate takeout for every meal and slept a series of identical White v Neck t shirts and smart with one side of his mouth. When I said something clever I knew his preferred coding languages his least favourite content management system and his general hatred dancing small talk and girls in bars one one night when we talk too late I fell asleep with my laptop open and woke up seven hours later tangled in cords and he was still there asleep been the light from an open window paling young and pixellated eventually he stirred link at the camera and said Hey you. Hey I said easily. How did you sleep as the weeks went on. I told you about my last boyfriend. Agai admit in psychology class and dated for almost two years. He listened quietly his glasses reflecting my image each from a computer and gave good clear advice about letting go. I can't remember the last time I met somebody that smart and talented in ways. I certainly certainly wasn't he told me about his ex girlfriend who never appreciated his work and I texted him from classes. When I was frustrated or bored in the safety of my apartment I could see well but I can touch him. I could summon him when I wanted to talk but I never knew him in any light of in the one from his bedside lamp. This phenomenon worked in my favor as well. You know I could call him after a few drinks thanks when I felt sufficiently talkative and social I could avoid him. If I had videos to edit or blog post to write I can say whatever I wanted and risk awkwardness renews because at the end of the conversation one click of the mouse would shut him out of my room. The irony is that we flocked to the Internet for this type of safe sanitized intimacy but we want something entirely different in real life or irl is a popular term online parlance at Internet at conferences like the one where I met will twitter exploded with people celebrating Iro meetings. Oh so nice to finally see at so-and-so. Iro If so and so. I can't believe we hadn't met IRL yet. The Internet brings these people together with Hashtags and message boards but it it never satisfies them. No matter how much you love someone's blog or twitter feed it isn't there post you actually want and so so slowly cautiously will and I began circling the question of what it all meant. I really like you. He said one nine after getting home from the bar. I really like you too. I said I don't know what that means. I I wanted to find out so in early. March I rented a car begged my professor presser to let me out of Class A day early and drove five hundred forty miles to spend a long weekend in the mid sized city where we'll when I got closed closed. I called my friend to stop where I fix my makeup and Chew Gum and generally tried to calm down. Whatever it's terrible I demanded what if he's nothing nothing like I expect in fact we're was almost exactly as I expected them. Lips straight knows ooh small. Hayes allies classes. He stood waiting at the side of the street while I parked my car going forward and back four no word back until I nervously got within two feet of the curve. We kissed on the cold blustery sidewalk as the win with my thoughts around mostly. I felt relieved. I thought this works in real life. It's means something but after we kissed eight pizza and went back to his house we struggled for things to talk about in real life will start off off it nothing while we talked in real life. He had no questions about the drive or my work or the stuff that waited for me. When I went back to school. He took me out for dinner and read his email. While we waited for our food he apologized profusely but still checked his websites traffic stats while we sat in his living room mm-hmm he took me to a party at his friend's house where they proceeded to argue for hours about web design while I sat on a futons tonic stared at the ceiling drunken board and terribly concerned that I look thinner online at points. He grabbed my hand and gave me a small apologetic. Smiles seemed like a strategy game a constant dance of reaching for me and pulling back of intimacy and distance a real life and internet make believe on the last day of my visit will overslept. He rushed around around the apartment with his hair. Wet Tie tied looking for his laptop. According to the plan we made the night before he would go to work and I would leave when it suited me dropping his spare keys in the mailbox in the front hallway where I stood rubbing. My eyes will hug me goodbye and told me to drive safely. He struggled for a closing statement. It was great to see you he said at last I didn't leave right away after I showered packed and studied the books nearest fireplace a set for a long time at his kitchen counter trying to work out what happened. I didn't like being surrounded by his things. I I felt more comfortable in my room with my things and with his presence confined to a laptop screen. I wrote him a note before I left. Dear will thank you so much for having me this weekend to spend time with you. In Person I signed my name left on the counter. Then willing myself not to cry. I dropped his keys in the mailbox walks and gundy home"