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.A few months ago, a friend from graduate school asked if I wanted to Gchat (which has since folded into Google Hangouts). Vulnerable women used to be suspected of witchcraft.
We talked about our eating disorders with a candor unavailable to us at the lunch table.
When I messaged boys I liked, I learned to have conversations where there was no pressure to arrive at a right answer.
Katz told me AIM “was a way we learned to enact pleasure or demonstrate that we were feeling pleasure, even and especially if we weren’t.” At the same time we were using AIM, my best friends and I were also listening to NSync.
We were fans, but we made fun of one song: “Digital Get Down.” We thought it was “awkward” how NSync made a song about asking some girl to touch herself on a webcam.
It was in those unstructured conversations that I could be typing so fast my guard came down.
“It was pleasurable to meet new people and learn that you were ‘attractive’ somehow,” Katz recalls.
Marla M12 was instant-messaging me a guide to phone sex: “Practice saying things like, ‘You make me so hot’ …
the basics can be extraordinarily arousing when they’re said out of context or in a different situation.” For women like me who were teens and preteens in the late 1990s and early 2000s, that “different situation” was AIM (AOL Instant Messenger).
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.