Q. I’ve been hanging out a lot with a guy, “Jack.” Jack and I hook up almost every weekend, and sometimes hang out during the week days — there’s a big problem, though. We talk almost exclusively online, through AOL instant messenger. Jack never calls me, he just IMs me to see what I’m up to or to see if I want to hang out with him. Lately, my friends have been telling me that I need to do something to stop subjecting myself to Jack’s “online booty calls.” Is it pathetic that we only talk online? What should I do to get Jack to call me?
A. Chaind — Fear not. You are in good company. The harsh reality is that “What’s your AIM name?” has become the pick-up line of the new millennium. While this solicitation certainly ranks below the romantic staple, “What’s your number? I’ll call you –,” be assured that AIM come-ons are at least an attempt at communication, unlike the notoriously silent “facebook stalkers.” So to answer your first question, IMing with your lover is not pathetic, but normal. AIM eliminates awkward pauses and simplifies the communication process to the click of a mouse — perfect for the tongue-tied and the lazy (think “Yale men”). However, before you are completely off-the-hook for pathetic-ness, you must confront a few important questions. Have you activated the AIM feature that notifies you with a loud noise when Jack’s screen name “signs on”? Do you wait eagerly for his screen name to change from light gray to an “active” black? Do you check Jack’s away message obsessively (as in, while working in another part of your room you return to your computer at 10-minute intervals to see whether Jack has changed his away message)? Have you and Jack ever had a fight because he wasn’t responding to your IMs fast enough, or because he was answering your questions in monosyllables? When you and Jack argue, have you expressed your anger by blocking him? Have you posted a fake away message to make Jack think you are out partying when really you are locked in the library? Chaind, be honest with yourself. If you have answered yes to at least two of these questions, the pathetic zone may be looming dangerously near —
Now, on to your second question. The transition from computer to phone is a delicate one. Before you attempt to convert Jack to the telephone, think long and hard about your man. Does Jack really have the potential to progress from an informal AIM acquaintance to a faithful phone friend? If Jack’s intentions are to advance your hook-up/hang out pattern to a girlfriend-boyfriend connection, a few simple steps can transform your shy internet chatter into a gregarious telephone talker. However, if Jack wants to keep things casual, his reliance on AIM is most likely an intentional choice. If you think (or hope) Jack falls into the first category, all the boy needs is a little encouragement. The next time you are with Jack, innocently remark how your internet has been acting up lately. Turn to him and exclaim, “Maybe we should exchange cell numbers — you know, in case I couldn’t get on AIM or something, and I needed to get in touch with you.” Smile naively as if the idea of trading phone numbers just popped into your head that minute. Now, here comes the hard part: Throw off those chains, girl! Stop signing on AIM!! (And signing on and blocking Jack doesn’t count — remember, you are not pathetic). It will be hard. Temptation will lurk in that strange empty column along the right side of your computer screen. Be strong! Enlist your friends (those who were accusing you of the “online booty call”) to help you. If Friday night goes by, and Jack hasn’t called, call him. It is the 21st century — lovers talk on AIM and girls make the first phone call. Before long, Jack will be initiating those calls, and the two of you will be laughing (not just LOL and hahahahaha but real sounds!) about the days when he would sweetly inquire, “Will you be on later?” And then, instead of signing on each night, you and Jack will be getting it on each night.
Q. I am really concerned about my life at Yale. I just feel like I am not doing enough here. My water polo practices conflicted with debate team events this semester, and I also had to resign from the Tory Party due to other commitments. I do have a course load of five and a half classes and am double majoring in history and econ. I also copy edit three nights a week for the newspaper, tutor a New Haven middle schooler once a week, sing in an a cappella group and work for the Yale Lit Mag, and I like to compose symphonies and write poetry in my spare time. Still, I realize that I am missing out on so much. I told myself that I would take advantage of everything that Yale has to offer, and yet I have only attended three Master’s Teas and two lectures so far this year. I even stopped doing the recommended extra reading for my cognitive science class. What is wrong with me? Am I lazy to indulge in four hours of sleep?
— Worrying About Wasted Time
A. Dear Wasted Time — I think wasted time is just what you need. Get to know Toad’s and Olde Blue a little better this weekend, and I promise you will stop worrying.
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