A boy meets a girl on the interwebs. This is not a dating site and so the conversation is not bent towards engendering any sort of intentional relationship, but the boy and the girl enjoy witty banter and savvy political commentary and so they continue to “talk.” Of course they have no idea what their individual voices sound like because they don’t really talk. They Tweet. Or Chat. Or Whatever. The contact becomes regular enough that they each believe they know the other. They are Friends. I wonder what each one imagines the other’s voice sounds like. Do they contemplate the way the other would use their hands to punctuate a particularly salient point, or what they smell like? Out there suspended on the interwebs all of that IRL detail is completely malleable, manifested entirely on the screen of the beholder.
One day the boy is no longer there. In truth the girl doesn’t notice right away because she has been drawn away from this particular interface of the [tangled] Web We Weave. In real life would you notice if one of your daily conversants was suddenly absent? Gone? Dissipated without a trace? I am not sure anymore, but I think, in spite of our increasingly complex cocoons of self-involvement, perhaps.
The girl sends out an electronic search party for her Friend. Email. Tweets. Wall posts. The search party is effective and within an hour the missing person has been found. Where were you? What happened? It was bad. I freaked out. I had to… to… delete my account. Oh. Wow. Why? It got too intense. Oh.
The boy had met another girl. In similar fashion he had begun to connect with his new Friend. Or was it a Follower? It is so hard to tell sometimes. Maybe he was the one who Followed.
Into the rabbit hole. [Lewis Carroll, you had no idea.] One interface makes you bigger. One makes you smaller. That is still true. They were bigger. So big in each other’s eyes. After one month they were in Love. Love is good. I understand how certain conditions lend themselves to the formation of incredibly intense relationships; I have always found that the bonds that are formed among travelers are like this. Intense. Quick. Flashpoints. The union of shared experience.
As the boy tells his Friend of his Love she is curious but unafraid. This boy has a need she could never fill and she cares for him as a Friend. A Follower. She listens to his lament. It is a tawdry tale to be sure. Full of duplicitous, passive aggressive behavior so easily perpetrated from behind the one-way mirror of the computer screen. He looks for meaning in everything. Everything is a code to be broken. Nothing is as it seems. This is confusing. I am as I seem. Yes, but you are different. Aren’t you as you seem? Yes, but I am different. Why are we different? I don’t know.
It is as if the progress of the relationship has been on hyper-speed. How can you get to the icky parts without the honeymoon parts?
What do you like about her? What does she like about you? Do you know what each other smell like? How you sort your mail? Which way you like the toilet paper on the roll? You have not met.
But you are in love.
Well, she says to the boy, do we get to be friends again? I have missed you. Yes, yes of course.
Then the whole strange cycle starts again. They are friends. They communicate. There is some expectation of coded meaning, that nothing is as it seems. That people are not being honest. What can we deduce? What can we find out? What do you want to know? Will you feel better to know things you do not want to know? Yes. Yes. Yes. Of course, YES.
Now the boy’s Love is not okay. She cannot allow him to be friends with any other girls out there among the fiber-optic milieu. Why? She says it is because all the other girls are whores who are using him to suit their own agendas. That he is naïve and cannot see that they all want something from him. That they are taking advantage of him.
What she means to say is this:
You cannot be friends with any other girls because if you fell in love with me by communicating this way you can just as easily fall in love with them the same way. It was so easy. So immediate. And it is real. So real. And so all others are a threat because who’s to say that the same thing won’t happen again and be just as real. I must hold on. Or else I will lose. You.
That is what she means to say. But she cannot say that.
The boy, too, has issues. After all this is serious business; he updated his Facebook status to reflect that he was “In A Relationship.” Because he is so desperate for the words his Love Tweets and Chats and Posts to be real, he is compelled to place equal weight on all her typed sentiments – whether they are backed by gravitas or levity. It is a conundrum.
And so they “fight” through Tweets and Chats and Posts. As if relationship communication were not already complicated enough.
The boy is conflicted. The Love is mad. The girl is watching. The boy is now no longer allowed to be friends with the girl by mandate of the Love. The girl finds this frustrating, though not world ending. She wonders why they cannot be friends and continue their witty repartee. But the Love said no and the boy had to prove his love to his Love. The girl goes on, she has friends in town from overseas, friends to meet for dinner and an internet friend to meet in the flesh. She is sad about the boy. Or maybe for the boy. But in the end she just logs off.
I mean really, they never even met.
[image from here.]