From Our Readers
March 11, 2016 9:05 am
Getty Images / Sarajo Frieden

Ever since I watched You’ve Got Mail as a young, chubby-cheeked child, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of falling in love online. My adolescent years were filled with doodles and daydreams about what existed outside of my tiny town, and more importantly, what lay beyond my screen.

I’ll never forget the first time I received an unsolicited dick pic on MySpace when I was 13. I was shocked — that singular picture ruined the romantic image that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan had created for me. I cried, deleted my account, and found myself looking over my shoulder constantly for about a week. The picture was just spam, but my tween-self hadn’t yet learned the rules of the Internet.

By the time I was 16, I had recovered and felt properly prepared to start looking for love on the Internet again. I turned my boy-crazy attention away from MySpace to more “evolved” social media platforms — but, like we all know, the real fun was always on Craigslist. There’s something so beautifully transparent about looking for love on a website that’s also used to peddle stolen car parts, sell your mother-in-law’s purple crushed velvet couch, and of course, solicit a quickie in the Pizza Hut parking lot.

But then, one magical day, I saw it on missed connections section of Craigslist. The ad said, “I saw you driving down Beretania Street in a beige station wagon. You have orange hair, and you were singing really loudly to Third-Eye-Blind in your car — it made me smile.”

THAT WAS ME. I felt like I had hit the secret admirer jackpot! I transformed into human version of the heart-eyes emoji, started sweating in places I didn’t realize I could sweat, and my cheeks burned with embarrassment that the future love of my life already knew that I not-so-secretly love Third Eye Blind.

I hopped onto my email and quickly sent my suitor a message to tell him how happy his post made me. I imagined our surreal love affair. I would be the Manic Pixie Dream Girl that would enter this sad schmuck’s life. I would teach him how to live again. I would dress colorfully, say things like “Carpe freaking diem, man,” and we’d talk about philosophy at wacky locations like carnivals or bowling alleys.

We’d be perfect, and I would never again have to worry about the pimply, awkward boys that previously occupied my thoughts. I eagerly refreshed my email until finally I heard the chime, “You’ve got mail!”

I opened the message. It said, “Hey, glad to have made your day!”

My jaw (and my heart) dropped. That was it? After building up this mystery man to be my Joseph Gordon Levitt-esque dream dude, he wrote me off like I was, after all, just some girl singing in my car. Didn’t he understand how destiny works?

I hadn’t been this hurt over a boy since I got dumped by my boyfriend of one-month at Burger King. But I did learn a valuable lesson about looking for love in all the wrong places. I hung my head low and swore to myself on that very day that I would never look for love online, ever again.

That is, until five years later when I was introduced to Tinder. Now, once again, I spend my days sifting through strangers online for love, and being bombarded by the occasional unsolicited dick pic, yet again.

Originally from Honolulu, Brooklyn-based writer Caelan Hughes enjoys long walks on the beach, strawberry daiquiris and writing about herself in third person. She’s a cat-lady and donut-enthusiast and you can find her on Instagram and on Twitter.

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