Messing with ‘Home’: Social Experiment, or Us Being Jerks? Part 2

January 5, 2009 at 9:45 am Leave a comment

Back at Justine’s virtual apartment, we start goofing off.  We don’t really know if LonelyKid is really coming over or not, so we decide to have some fun while we wait.  There’s furniture scattered about: couches, chairs, a table, all in a uniform white color that goes along with the minimalist look of the entire place.  Two of the walls are basically glass that look out onto a harbor, a beautiful scene that looks like some kind of Mediterranean travelogue.  Anyway, we take the furniture and stack it into a pile in the middle of the room, for a ‘WTF?’ effect.  Maybe it’ll weird LonelyKid out when he walks into this stranger’s apartment and sees all the furniture piled on top of each other.  We do, however, make the decision to move one of the couches outside so it overlooks the water, something for a romantic effect.

One of us, I’m not sure which one, had this crazy idea to really mess with this guy.  LonelyKid, we’re hoping, is assuming he’s talking to a real girl, not just an avatar of a girl.  Wouldn’t it be funny to get into this conversation with him, string him along, and then just completely screw with his head at the end?  We’d say something like, “Could you wait a second while I go change into something more comfortable?” and then we’d go off and change the avatar from this woman to this short, fat ugly man, then proceed to ridicule LonelyKid for trying to get with some fake virtual girl.  Basically, we’d call him one of those stereotypical Internet losers that everyone thinks populates chat rooms and message boards.

Yes, it’s mean, but we’re trying to do a social good here.  At least, that’s what we thought we were doing.

So, with everything set, we decide to place Justine on the couch outside, facing the water.  Suddenly, there’s a message telling us that LonelyKid’s arrived.  We applaud, and I was slightly in disbelief that LonelyKid actually did show up.  We invite him to sit and stay a while, waiting for him to make the first move.  He attempts to strike up a conversation, asking questions that are simple and not too personal.  “Good,” I thought.  If he were to try and ask for an address or phone number, I’d be more inclined to spring the trap on him sooner.  Something inside my head was hoping LonelyKid was a normal person, not some desperate Web-surfing loser.

We humor him and tell him we live in Northern Virginia, and he responds by telling us he lives in California.  Justine goes to school for, if I remember correctly, graphic design, and LonelyKid is in school to be an artist.  “Artist?” we say.  “What kind of art?”  He’s vague about it, and we leave it at that, we don’t really care.  Then, the questions turn slightly personal.  We make up some story about Justine being recently single and how she just got out of a bad relationship.  We also took this opportunity to drop subtle hints that this isn’t really what it seems.  As the conversation progressed, we built up a somewhat genuine repertoire with him, and every once in a while, all of us (remember, five guys sitting in a living room) went, “Aww” to something he said because it sounded genuinely sweet.

LonelyKid asks what kind of relationship it was that Justine had with her ex, and why it was so bad.  Sean, I believe, was the one to mention that the boyfriend hurt her, in an emotional way (we didn’t want to go into some kind of abusive relationship, for fear that some real-world consequences would occur, like LonelyKid trying to contact the authorities and be some kind of ‘knight in shining armor’).  Then, we ask him if he’d ever do that.  He replies, “No, I’d never do that to you.”  There was silence in the room for a moment, and we collectively go, “Aww!”

As cheesy as that response was, it sounded real.  This whole thing had gotten to a point where we were having second thoughts about our ‘big reveal’.  LonelyKid seemed just that, a lonely guy who’s spending his evening online, and hoping to meet a special someone there that he couldn’t meet in the real world.  What if he’s also a very desparate person that could become suicidal when he finds out that Justine, the potential love of his life, is actually five guys in a living room, stringing him along with the intent of breaking his fragile heart?  We have reached a threshold.  Crossing it could mean serious consequences.  All the humor had gone from the situation now, and even if LonelyKid didn’t try and kill himself and just berated us for being jerks, we wouldn’t get any kind of laugh out of it.

We would feel like jerks.

After some discussion amongst ourselves, it was decided to cut this guy loose.  We made up some story about this being Justine’s brother’s system and he wanted to get on and play some games.  LonelyKid sounded disappointed, but also elated that he had found a new friend.  Then, Bobby, who for some reason has a knack for ‘writing like a girl’ (meaning he’d say things that sounded like some lovestruck girl actually said it) ended the conversation by giving LonelyKid a kind of virtual kiss.  It could’ve been funny, but we all felt that it wold send the wrong signal to LonelyKid.  Justine had become his online girlfriend, and it was expected that they’d talk again.  Bobby told us that the best thing he could do was ignore all the messages LonelyKid would most likely be sending, in hopes that he’d just forget about Justine and move on.

So, Justine and LonelyKid part ways, probably never to see each other again.

I honestly felt sorry for him.  LonelyKid seemed like a nice guy, just, well, lonely.  However, we were a little disappointed, we still wanted to do this crazy reveal and totally mess with someone.  With this original goal in mind, we decide to find a new target.  Only this time, the hints that we’d drop alluding to our virtual Justine being a scam, wouldn’t be so subtle.  Instead of taking 20 or so minutes to try and pick up a guy, let’s be more blunt and see if we can get someone back to the apartment in 5.

With this in mind, Bobby changes Justine’s clothes from pants to the shortest skirt that was available, and headed back to the Plaza.

(the adventure continues in the next post…)

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Messing with ‘Home’: Social Experiment, or Us Being Jerks? Part 1 Messing with ‘Home’: Social Experiment, or Us Being Jerks? Part 3

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