All I ever really wanted to do was get laid without having to put shoes on.
That dream became a reality the first time I met someone using the Craigslist “Casual Encounters” section. I don’t remember what I wrote, but I clearly remember padding downstairs barefoot to sign the guy into my dorm room. In my memory, it’s replayed with edges blurred by a stream of holy light.
“Is this OK?” I asked, gesturing up and down at myself, to which he responded by pressing his boner against my leg while kissing me.
I don’t think we did anything particularly amazing, but the experience was intensely hot for its anonymity and the internal chant that accompanies all my best sexual experiences: dirty, dirty, so dirty.
That was my first casual encounter, but I had long looked at the Internet as some sort of mystical man factory. Picture conveyer belts of them trailing endlessly into the distance, hard and ready with dicks in hand. Ordering one up is sort of like picking a song on the jukebox, watching that electronic arm grab one from its slot and deliver it to you. The best part? There are always, always, more where that came from.
The first time I ever went online, to Prodigy back when they existed and charged by time spent signed on, I felt its vast potential for interpersonal relations, much like the first thing I wanted to do on Chatroulette was show people my boobs.
For someone with low self-esteem, who had rarely gotten any kind of sexual attention in real life, going online was like falling down a rabbit hole into a life I had previously only read about in the Sweet Valley High novels I mulled over—the kind of life where boys and men want to “chat” with you, and sex with another person is a tangible possibility.
Since I was 13 years old, every boyfriend I ever had pretty much came from the Internet. I basically reduced vast amounts of world-changing technology and advanced circuitry to a fancy machine for talking to boys.
Those of you who argue with me about the ease of getting laid should go right now and post an ad on Craigslist, then sift through the hundreds of responses. Yes, some of them will be creepers with dick pics, but some of them, I can assure you, will be quite enticing. And willing to pick up a six pack on the way over.
That may not be something you want to do, but it is easy. And not only can you order up sex as easily as pad thai—if you had to check your pad thai for visual sores—the laws of supply and demand mean you can get as specific as you want about your partner and scenario. Like maybe you’re looking for a redhead to give you oral sex and then leave? Or an older man to act out your sibling incest fantasy? You can get super weird and if you live in a fairly urban area, that dude is probably out there.
It’s amazing, and addictive. Which is where the cautionary part comes in.
If you are like me, with that special blend of poor self-image, lack of boundaries and compulsive tendencies, and you discover a fountain of neverending anonymous sex partners like Craigslist Casual Encounters, you will stop wanting to do anything else ever again.
And the stuff you will stop doing will include things like going to class, leaving your dorm room and “showering,” except right before somebody comes over to soullessly bang your head against the bottom of your roommate’s top bunk. You will spend hours virtually cruising in a trancelike state, refreshing and responding until you realize a whole day has passed in which you’ve accomplished nothing but again reinforcing the knowledge that there are men in this world who would like to have sex with you. You will develop an obsessive need to prove that last point to yourself again and again, with an ever-refreshing cast of characters.
You will escort one man out of your room only to immediately sign back on and find another one, leading to days where you have sex with two or three different men. When your roommates are around, you will frequent sleazy motels, where the front desk staff begins to nod knowingly at you, almost certainly in the presumption that you are a prostitute.
Whatever tentative boundaries once modulated your behavior will melt away, and you will find yourself in sexual situations with men you meet on the train, cab drivers and guys you let pick you up off the street and take you back to their apartments. You will let people photograph you naked, then spend the rest of your life waiting for those pictures to come back to haunt you. You will use people like substances, with no regard for their feelings or humanity.
Finally, spectacularly, you will return home from an evening with friends to a broken Internet connection and suffer a complete meltdown because you are unable to get your “fix.” There will be screaming and sobbing.
Eventually, you will end up in therapy with men whose wives caught them with professional dominatrixes or who frittered away their life savings at strip clubs. You’ll wear a rubber band on your wrist and snap it every time you are tempted to have eye sex with a guy on the subway. You’ll have an elaborate system of passwords and blocks on your computer that keep you off sites like Craigslist but still able to write your term papers.
You will say: “Hi, I’m Emily and I’m a sex addict.”