This is my best effort at scrupulous transcription of a conversation I was fortunate to overhear in the locker room today, between two young women I initially assumed were roommates. I wasn’t sure whether the locker room was covered by a cone of silence, so I checked with the Internets, where I received dispensation to share the following:
Woman #1: How are you doing?
Woman #2: Tired.
W1: Up all night with your friend again?
W2: Yes! He wants to talk all night.
W1: All night?
W2: It’s exhausting. Plus, I’m running out of stuff to talk about.
W1: That’s what making out is for.
W2: I know! That is the problem with Facebook.
If you are over 30, then perhaps (like me) it took you until this point to figure out that all this talking was happening online.
If you are under 30, and feeling envious of us old people who used to intersperse all that boring talk, talk, talk with a little making out, let me correct your romantic notions of the good old days. What actually happened, before the Internet, is that we used to complain (kind of) about guys who wouldn’t talk at all. We were so busy making out, in fact, that you could get weeks or months into a quasi-romance before you even noticed that the guy you were with wasn’t actually capable of uttering a coherent sentence.
Now the up side of the old days is that during the weeks it took you to figure out you didn’t have much to say to a guy, you could at least enjoy getting it on. But I can’t say I feel sorry for my locker room companion. True, some make-out time would alleviate the boredom of her early romance. That boredom might serve her better than sex, however, if it keeps her from getting emotionally invested in a guy she doesn’t actually connect with. And one thing I do remember from the old days is how easy it was to get invested in a boring guy, simply because sex created the illusion of connection.
The conversation I overheard today seemed like an instance of a mistake we are all too prone to make as we swim into this Internet era. We bemoan the social peculiarities of our online lives, implicitly or explicitly comparing its problems with some fantasy version of life before Facebook, before email, before the Internet itself.
For now, the earth is still full of people who can remember that pre-Internet world. Yes, it was nice to have conversations without a pause to text, call or tweet. But it was a world with problems of its own. We were still stupid, we were still horny, and man oh man were we ever bored!