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In 2001, I was 16, sitting at the computer in the family room when my best friend, Marla M12, found me on AIM.I hid a smirk with a frown so my mom wouldn’t wonder what I was up to — at that moment, trying not to be turned on.Would I be bold enough to look him in the eyes and say: I like you? Meet new people for having a great time together and plan a happy relationship in Lalaland!A friend of mine reminded me of the way, at sleepovers, we used to go into chat rooms, pretend to be in our 20s, and try to get men to “cyber,” the AIM version of phone sex.
Another friend recalled the time a boy we knew from school told us to get drunk while we chatted.
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.
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.