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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.
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.
We lied and pretended we got drunk, laughing at our crafty misspellings. Still, the risks of AIM were some of its greatest rewards, especially for teenage girls.
Chatting online, rather, the goal was just to banter.
I got to see that bandying ideas around for hours could be a path to intimacy.
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!
It was in those unstructured conversations that I could be typing so fast my guard came down.