Roadkill On The Information Superhighway

You emailed me the link to your Facebook page, a.k.a. the key to Pandora’s Box. You may be the only person alive without any privacy settings on your profile.

I clicked through all 4,761 of your photos on Flickr. I saw various members of your family getting married. I traveled with you to India. I met your friends. I re-lived your high school years, since your Flickr collection contains old scanned photos of you as a child; even ones of your parents before you were born.

I read your blog. You’ve been blogging for a long time. It became apparent to me that you are a computer genius and have always been ahead of the technology curve. You are also an impressive, insightful writer. I drank your words like they held magical powers, like a celebrity drinks a five-dollar bottle of Kabbalah water.

You’ve been tweeting since the dawn of Twitter, back when people typed status updates that began with their name implied, like “…is eating a chewy chocolate chip cookie.” I read until I reached the beginning of your timeline. My imaginary tweet that night: “…is shocked and pleased to know this much about my Thursday night date. Thanks, internet.”

I was already in way over my head when I found your Vimeo page that contained the two most powerful pieces of insight thus far.

One video was a clip that aired on Dateline, about – what else – online dating; specifically, the advent of OK Cupid, which was not the site we met on. I always assume that everyone is on more than one site, but this confirmed it. The Dateline announcer rattled off a condescending voice over as the camera followed you on an awkward first date with a woman whom I judged to be older than me and less charming overall. I was encouraged by this, and seeing you speak and walk and exist in a moving picture was a fantastic feather in my cap made of you.

The second video stopped my heart. It was a documentary, produced by a film student who had met you – where else – online, and fallen in love with you. You, in turn, told her that she was too young, and transitioned her into a friend. She continued to carry her torch by wielding a camera and making a short film about you, with your consent and participation. She filmed you at work. She filmed you at home, reading your J Date messages. It’s clear that you are on every possible dating site there is.

I felt like a new character in the soap opera of your life, waiting off camera for my cue.

Before I entered the bar, I paced on the sidewalk and asked my friend on the phone, “Why am I even meeting him? He’s a professional dater.  He’s been doing this for years. He’s smug and self-satisfied. This is a bad idea. But he’s interesting. I’ll go out of curiosity, and keep him at an arm’s length.”

I sat across from you for the first time in real life, lost in a mixture of knowing you completely yet not at all. You are neither capable of nor interested in engaging in a relationship. That part of you is shut down and closed off. You are absolutely unavailable. I empathize with this and I am intensely attracted to it. But I see the danger from a mile away. I won’t allow myself to be affected by you.

Except that, of course, it’s not possible for me to control my feelings. I knew this before, but meeting you reminded me that I can only control my actions and my reactions. I cannot kill my emotions when I wish they would die.

So I made stupid choices, and followed you willingly down the yellow brick road while “If I Only Had a Brain” played softly in the background.

When I was out with someone else last week, he told me that he read an article I wrote and it made him realize that he should snuggle more. He read on my blog that I’m not a fan of body hair, and he’s sorry that he’s hairy.  He said he liked me and that I’m wonderful. I felt dread as he showered me with compliments, knowing he had made the familiar, fateful choice to look me up before we met. I imagined marching him over to your house by his shirt collar, knocking on your window, holding him up to your lava lamp and saying, Look, here’s a dude that likes me, why don’t you, why don’t you say these things to me?

You are the reason I don’t Google my dates anymore. Research is not romance. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Jared Tarbell

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