You could pretend to be a grown-up, because you were at a computer and not surrounded by lockers and classrooms. But when you’re an adolescent, talking is a way to flirt and flirting is a way to figure out who you are. Did you identify more closely with the lyrics of Dashboard Confessional or the writings of F. “Having the Internet as a catalyst for learning how to interact with your peers was invaluable, and it was also pretty innocent,” says Caroline Moss, a co-author of the upcoming “Hey Ladies!
AIM created “a safe space,” genderqueer writer and performer RE Katz tells me. mostly faking, some experimenting, performance.” That performance — complete with the costume of a font and the character of a username — was an attempt at being clever or sexy, at crafting a self. : The Story of 8 Best Friends, 1 Year, and Way, Way Too Many Emails” and the Twitter account @Your Away Message.
“It was pleasurable to meet new people and learn that you were ‘attractive’ somehow,” Katz recalls.
My friends and I played sexy on AIM because, in real life, we were bound to the rules of our parents, Catholicism, and the code that tells “smart kids” that sexual experimentation is for screw-ups.
I got to see that bandying ideas around for hours could be a path to intimacy.
It was in those unstructured conversations that I could be typing so fast my guard came down.
There seem to be no limits to the sexual explicitness we consume in music and TV and film.
But some things are still hard to do, and maybe they’ll only get harder the more digital intermediaries pop up, giving us alternatives to face-to-face intimacy.