In 2012, today, I publish a piece of non-fiction at a rather popular website. At around 3:30 p.m., I may receive a “like” from someone, her disqus avatar a tiny portrait floating as a raft on the sea of this white background, above the flotsam and jetsam of comments. I will click the link to her twitter, or tumblr, or whatever, to glean her impossible somethingness — that imposition of one’s nothingness — taking into morose consideration how this picture is likely self-curated, the best out of a set of half-a-dozen pictures taken that night, for the very purpose of extending her tiny effigy into this world, in her room, her macbook’s tiny cam the unblinking cyclops she is currently in a relationship with.
Ongoing romantic failures with those whom I’ve met online by way of my writing will flash quickly through my head, like some manic multi-frame animated .gif repeating in an ennui loop. A young woman recently said that I’m not the writer I am online: less confident, less humorous, less sexual, less thoughtful, less glib, more just me. My heart and erection sank. Perhaps every word ever writ is fiction. Or, truth is oddly difficult to mime.
Things were different back then, I was less broken, and so was the internet. It was just a baby; now it’s an angry teen. Tonight I’ll go back to all my likes, like a sick dating site only I’m taking part in. It’s easy to obsess about strangers. You just pour nothingness outward, as if, through some accident in the universe, that very act could somehow fill you. I will look for warm clues scattered behind her — the blurry spines of books I sort of recognize; the posters of vaguely alternative bands everyone knows too well; the clothes hanging in her closet I can almost touch and smell; the plant she nurtures in place of me, its soil darkening with care — as if the mystery of why she liked this, why she liked me, could ever be solved.”
— Jimmy Chen, Internet Like Story