We got our first computer when I was in middle school, and some of my earliest flirtations happened at night over instant messenger. In the ’90s, though, connecting online was far from guaranteed, let alone “instant.” After clicking the triangle icon, you held your breath, listening for a sequence of static screeches and hoping the blinking ellipsis would indeed produce that yellow-and-blue portal. More often than not, it didn’t. Something would go wrong, it was hard to tell what, and you’d find yourself unplugging and replugging cords. Occasionally, things were so bad you had to turn off the computer and start from the beginning. And then there were a few dark times when you were reduced to crying for your mom to fix it while imagining the urgent conversations being had without you, your eyes filling with tears of FOMO. It could be twenty minutes, even an hour, before you were online. But once you got there, it was great. A written conversation allowed for ambiguities that could be deployed for subtle romancing, and the protections of screen and screen name made everyone braver. The only catch was that at the critical moment—inevitably—your screen would freeze, and again you were desperately replugging, trying to reconnect before everyone on the internet had gone to sleep.