Red’s Lesson

Normally you don’t exactly know what makes you ‘like-like’ someone. It is a mix of smell, looks, environment, personality, that day, everything. In game, you lack these magic ingredients; you have the typed sentences and maybe a voice. Why do so many people fall in love in game?

I used to think that the most fun thing about games and the Internet in general was, that you could be whatever you want to be, and change that every day. It doesn’t matter. Questions about ‘me’ or ‘you’ are of no importance and could be answered at random. Who cares about the real us. Let’s just play.

Others didn’t think like me.

A guy, Red, told me I should reply to someone that had whispered me. He thought I might like to talk with him. At that moment I was sort of busy whispering, so I had been forgetting to answer this particular person. I replied. And, oh yes, did we hit it off. Almost instantly, he sparked something in me. How he talked, what he said. I was interested. Romantically. Over a couple of sentences. I liked him. Like-liked him.

‘OK, you are for real,’ Red said. ‘Sorry about that.’
‘What?’
‘So many people just bullshit you. It was me you were talking to. I wanted to know if you were for real,’ he said, ‘you are.’
‘Okay,’ I said.

Thinking back I should have gotten a bad vibe from this, I should have asked how he managed to be online on two names, and what he was thinking to set me up like that, but I didn’t. I was too stunned by the fact that I had created this complete, lively image, based on a few sentences, for a non existent person. Well, he did exist. It was Red. But the impression I got, had absolutely nothing to do with Red. And I had no interest in Red, yet I did fall for his alter ego. Of course, his ‘alt’ already did know a few things about me, so he had an advantage. Still…

From my point of view, I hadn’t passed his test at all. I had failed completely. I was able to have a serious interest in an illusion.

Red taught me to not trust my feelings online. How easy it is, though, to start liking someone. A voice, a funny statement, a way of being. You get so little information, and you can’t help building on that. You fill in the blanks, with all the things you like. Things that might not be there. Things that most likely will not be there. Even though I try to be very aware of the fact that I make everybody I talk to up for a great part; sometimes, feelings emerge. Butterflies pop up. Way too easily. And feeling way too real.

Maybe worthy of meeting up.

Maybe not. Maybe better to keep the illusion.

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