HELLO INTERNET BOY #50: Goodbye, Internet Boy forever

So this is it – the 50th and last post of HELLO INTERNET BOY. I’ve spent the morning reading back through all the posts. My god, I do wank on, don’t I? But it’s been an amazing experience. As a document to help aid my memory, it’s amazing. By reading through it, I’ve been able to remember small details (and large tbh) that I would have otherwise forgotten. I could smell my weird room in New York, and feel the hot Charleston air and feel the awkward cringe of meeting people.

What’s my round up? What’s my narrative arc ? I’ve already discussed some outcomes in the last post, but other than that, there’s not a bunch. I feel like a stronger person for having done all this. I feel like I had a great time and met some amazing people. I also feel like this document, this HELLO INTERNET BOY is exactly what it should be, that it exists right now as the perfect representation of the trip. Half blog, half microfiction, some diary, some memoir – it’s not going to turn into a book or start something new. This is what it is. Although I do honestly believe it could have been shorter.

Although, I have to say that reading back through it, I’m frustrated at how I wrote this. I sometimes skip over days of actual stuff, or summarise it, and even promise to go back to things, and then never do. I suppose it’s because I’m reflecting the hectic passage of every-day life, that I couldn’t write a post while in the car for a day, or busy in Chicago – but it frustrates me from a narrative point of view. I want to smooth out the edges of reality and make it all fit together more nicely. It won’t work, because that’s how life is. I suppose it’s good to have something to reflect that.

I’m also annoyed that I ran into such huge money troubles after returning from the US. I’ve really only just gotten stable. I feel like the project as a whole would have benefitted from some more travel, some more meeting of internet people. But hey, if wishes were fishes, this would be the ocean.

This project has been a lot of things – the very nature of it has been pretty stressful at times, forcing me to confront how much entitlement I actually have to other people’s stories. I’ve found myself soured on the idea of nonfiction in general. Give me fiction, or give me death. And it’s not because I hate nonfiction – I still love reading it, just not sure I want to be the guy to write about other people. I can still write about myself though! I’m easy pickings. I don’t care if I upset myself.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have this project. I want to thank Philip Thiel for the grant, and I want to thank everyone mentioned in this ridiculous enterprise and I want to thank you, the reader. I don’t think you exist, but thanks all the same.

Anyway, until next year when I go to… Guam to visit… aunts, this is me. This has been Internet Boy. XoXo.

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.


“I’m excited to explore the idea of truth and trust and online versus IRL personas, but also how funny it is when people meet?”

It’s the penultimate post for HELLO INTERNET BOY, and tomorrow I’ll be reflecting on the project as a whole. But today, I wanted to revisit my aims, my ‘statement of intention’ from the very first post, and probably from my application. This idea of truth and trust in the online versus IRL persona – did I come to any great leaps of discovery, any epiphanies?

Sort of.

I kind of DIDN’T get proven incorrect, and that’s interesting in itself. I wondered if by meeting people IRL that I’ve known for ages online, that something dramatic would shift. I suppose the doomsday scenario is that I would discover that the person I thought I “knew” was an illusion, a projection, and that the real person behind that persona was someone I actively disliked, or was so different they’d be unrecognisable. It’s the story that comes from shows like Catfish, or was what I feared as a teen in the airport, when we thought we were picking up an obese middle aged woman instead of a plucky farm teen.

Rather, meeting Michelle and Lyndsay was almost exactly as I expected – there’s definitely a deepening of the friendship (at least for me – maybe they hate me x100 more), but I was definitely meeting the people I knew online. I would argue that the increase of friendship came from shared experience, rather than any particular power or truth from real life. But also that capacity for that level of a shared experience can’t really be facilitated online. There is a kind of topping of experience in purely digital – people can be incredibly, incredibly close, but will always have a barrier of physical distance. People can be closer on the internet than in real life,  for sure. But perhaps it all leads towards a proving moment, the testing zone of meeting in real life?

Because I suppose when it comes to trust, I now 100% definitely trust that Michelle and Lyndsay are real people, and not malicious AI’s or old internet men after my fortune (joke’s on them). I never had that worry before – ever. But I also had no real stakes. Online I trusted them to be who they were, but really they never had to prove it to me. That moment I met Michelle in the airport, that was high stakes. That was where she could have ripped her flesh-mask off and revealed that she was sent back in time to stop this project from ever happening. That’s when she could have revealed she was the head of a porn ring called ‘Sallow white dudes .com’ and she was just after some sweet butt pics.

So I think truth is subjective between online and digital personas, and trust is forced. Which honestly is what I assumed already – but it’s good to have it confirmed.

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.


Ahead of them, all possibly reachable before the stampede overtook them, were some points of interest. To their right were more groups of trees, a large pile of rocks and boulders somewhere in their midst. To their slight left, there was a series of dips that traveled downward into what seemed a small ravine, where a stream might have once flowed.

Ahead, their path took them through some pockets of clearings, where they’d need to weave in and out of the trees and hope the beasts would be slowed by those same trees in the meantime.

Over in the game, Patrick is trying to get away from the stampede, and has been given some options on how to do it. Tbh, it all looks pretty unappealing as far as ways of not dying goes. I’ve headed towards the rocks – they seem more solid than the ravine. Who knows! Maybe I’ll die.

It’s gotten me thinking about different paths, and different options. As I alluded to in my last post, I’ve got a bunch of shit happening in my life right now. I’ve always been someone who believes in working hard for what you want. When it’s something big and amorphous, like ‘being an author’ it’s easy to stay focused on that. However, it’s the little tributary paths that you have to take while you’re getting to that one big road that can be most confusing. I’ve spent a bit of time recently trying to strong-arm fate, and wrestle destiny into submission, sort of forcing big decision to happen. It’s been really weird (and please note I don’t actually believe in destiny or anything) but all the stuff I’ve been trying to MAKE happen, like changes in career, new opportunities etc – none of them have been working out when I’ve been pushing for them to happen. It’s sort of felt like I know I need to be on a different path, so I’ve been trying to blow holes into the side of the road and make new ones. I think that there’s a place for this, certainly. But it hasn’t been working out. I’ve just been wasting a lot of energy.

Instead, the things I’ve wanted have become apparent with time – like the opportunity to focus more on my writing happened after a complete accident of circumstance. I was certainly looking for that opportunity, but instead of forcing it to happen, the opportunity to take that fork in the road presented itself. Whether or not it will end up being the CORRECT fork in the road remains to be seen. I could still be trampled by lizard-dogs. We could all be trampled by lizard-dogs.


Last night I did my level three grad show at ITS, the improv school in Sydney that I study at. It’s taken me a while to get here, as I keep taking breaks between semesters. The first break, between level 1 and 2, was my trip overseas to Newwwww Yawk.

It was such a good night – I’m really hungover right now, and not because I had a crazy party. I just have this weird thing where after I’m on stage, the switch in my brain that says ‘stop drinking’ just doesn’t flip, and I sat in the pub afterwards and drank four beers really quickly. Because I’m a light-weight.

Anyway – performing was great. All of my classmates were spectacular, and from the teams that I watched, it was clear that everyone was having fun. Nobody was being a jerk. At UCB in New York, there was one guy in my class who I desperately didn’t want to perform with. It wasn’t because he was un-funny, although he was. And it wasn’t because he was “bad” in the sense that there’s some kind of natural talent, which you do or don’t have. It was because he was selfish, and in improv that really sucks. He had designs on being a stand-up comedian, and a film writer, and he was a few decades older than everybody else, so he had that easy entitlement when it comes to cutting other people off, and interrupting. It meant that every time he took to the stage, you could see everyone tense up, waiting to see how he would twist the scene to be all about him.

In the monologue, he told a long story about swapping someone’s cremated remains with that of a cremated family dog in order to pacify a crazy ex-wife. It had to be a lie, or else he’s a bona-fide psychopath. It went for such an incredibly long time and was so clearly a horrible mixture between a fib and a stand-up routine that it seemed to stick out and make everyone uncomfortable. During the scenes that followed, he would bust in and override everyone’s suggestions, trying to act out the crazy fantasy he’d just talked about. It mightn’t sound like much, but it’s the difference between having fun, which makes the process more enjoyable for the audience, and having a shit time.

Anyway, I was thinking about that experience last night, while having the opposite experience. And then, we got on stage and I realised I was wearing literally exactly the same outfit, down to underpants and socks, that I wore on stage at UCB. Then, we asked for a word suggestion and we got ‘San Francisco’. I took a step forward and said ‘when I was in New York…’

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.

HELLO INTERNET BOY #46: Our nation’s capital

I’m on the coach down to Canberra for this year’s Noted writing festival, and we’re pulling into Canberra and I’m surprised by the rush of affection I have for the wide, tree lined streets and big blocky 1970s era buildings. I’ve been to Canberra a lot in the last few years, and it’s all been for good things. I’m starting to feel comfortable.

Canberra always makes me think of my old internet friend, Lani. She was someone I met from Aelyria, who came and stayed at my parent’s place when I was a teenager. Later, my mate Bob and I drove down to see her for her birthday. I want to say 18th birthday, but maybe it was her 21st. That party was my first real experience of the sheer and utter panic you get when you realise you’re stuck somewhere you truly don’t want to be. Lani’s friends were scary and standoffish, and had a weird fixation with making fun of my jeans. They were all wearing shorts. We also accidentally dropped our six-pack of craft beer directly into the esky, smashing a similar number of their VB’s. It was excruciating, and Lani became drunker and drunker, only able to spend fleeting amounts of incoherent time with us. It was then decided that we had to go to ‘the Civic’, which is the Canberran term for the part of the city which has night life. We plodded out there, and discovered that the party was only the entree of the horror. We were packed into a sweaty bar, and whenever a certain song came on, everyone had to drop their pants. We didn’t realise this – once again everyone was judging my pants. Canberra hates my pants.

By the end of the night, Lani had a huge fight with her boyfriend, and drove off in a friend’s car. We were supposed to stay at her boyfriend’s house, but didn’t particularly feel welcome there anymore. Luckily we had discovered another friend from Aelyria in Canberra, and stayed at her parent’s house for the night, which was full of dinosaur bones.

We stayed in touch with Lani for ages after that, seeing her a handful of times. One of the last times we went to a German beerhouse and drank litre steins and then we all vomited all over the train. It was lovely.

Anyway, I really like Canberra now.

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.

HELLO INTERNET BOY #45: Small adventures

The Aelyrian Patrick Lenton is currently trying to escape a stampede of lizard-dogs. Cool, I wish him the best. Meanwhile, real-life Patrick is also feeling a little like he’s in the middle of a stampede. OK – this tense is annoying, I’m switching over.

There’s a lot going on at the moment – looking for a new house, packing up the old one, winding up my old workplace, launching a new business, etc etc. It could be described as a stampede of small lizard-dogs, in the sense that there’s things happening all around me and if I slow down, they will probably swamp me and I will die. I’m not complaining – I’m enjoying the majority of the lizard-dogs, to be honest.

Patrick in the game is not enjoying his lizard-dog stampede. He’s left the city for the first time in his adult life, met some weird travel companions and now this. Poor guy. I wonder if he’ll be traumatised. I have a feeling I might be traumatised. And he is supposed to be me. Or maybe I’d become stronger. It’s difficult to know, because the little struggles and the personal victories that I’m proud of in my life are so removed from something as fantastical as ‘escaped a stampede of lizard-dogs’. That seems monumental. Or perhaps in that world, it’s not. Perhaps that’s common-place. Maybe it’s weird if you HAVEN’T been involved in a lizard-dog stampede. Has anyone noticed how much I’m enjoying writing the phrase ‘lizard-dog stampede?’

The title of my little plot in Aelyria is ‘Small Adventures’, and I’m suddenly struck with how suitable that would have been as a title for the entire HELLO INTERNET BOY project. I wasn’t really able to understand just how long and how much writing I’d have to do to carry out 50 posts over a year. It’s ended up a little bit more diary-esque than I’d perhaps have wanted, or at least planned in the beginning, but I’m kind of OK with it now. It’s so interesting to be able to go back and track all the small adventures I’ve been having. It reminds me of LiveJournal, except it’s not horribly angsty and I won’t wake up one night in my mid twenties, suddenly remembering that I have one and panic delete it. These micro-non-fictions aren’t polished, but they generally have more thought put into them than a journal entry. I hope that I’ll stand by the majority of them. I should probably read them over again.

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.


I’ve just discovered that my landlord is raising our rent, which is fairly typical of the Sydney rental market. It was already too expensive for us, and add in the fact that I’ve just lost my job, it means that we are packing up and moving again. I say again, because 12 months ago, right at the beginning of this project we were also moving house. 12 months before that, we were also moving. 12 months before that, we were moving. Once a year, we pack up all our shit, and we shuffle around to some other overpriced shithole in Sydney. It can’t be a surprise that this is driving me insane. Today I am selling and giving away about 70% of my books, because the idea of moving them all again is making me sad. I’m going to sell most of my furniture and live from boxes. I’m going to go to sleep with all my clothes on, in case I need to move house suddenly in the middle of the night.

The repetition of this was really bumming me out, and then suddenly I thought about how free I suddenly was – no house, no job. Apart from the whole ‘friends and family’ thing, no real reason to keep shuffling around the dystopic rental horror of Sydney. I realised that we could go anywhere. My partner still has a job, which is good, because someone has to feed our dogs, but other than that, the world is our oyster.

I did a bunch of research on moving to the US. Basically, it seems hard. It seems unlikely that anyone would sponsor me to work over there, and I don’t even want to work full-time anymore. And the costs to move would also be… extensive. And our dogs would have to stay in quarantine for like half a year, and even 15 minutes is basically out of the question for their anxious little hearts. But, I knew that there is a whole raft of places we could go where we would already have friends. God bless the internet. That was comforting.

But we are planning on getting the fuck out of Sydney. I’m so fucking tired of the shithole rent. We have lots of friends in Melbourne, and lots who I talk too practically every day on Twitter, but only see once a year. It would be nice to turn them into real life friends. Oh – and for the person on Twitter who said that ‘in no world is Melbourne rent cheaper than Sydney’, that’s just so untrue. Yes, there are still some overpriced trendy suburbs, but on the whole there are options for rent under half of what we are paying now, in suburbs actually quite close to the city and much much much more dog friendliness. To find those kinds of places in Sydney, you have to go at least half an hour to 45 minutes out of the CBD.

Anyway, here’s a cool thing I found on Tumblr:


This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.

HELLO INTERNET BOY #43:Chat-shaming

Re-joining Aelyria for this blog project hasn’t felt as nostalgic as I thought it would. A lot of that is because I’m keeping myself reined in fairly tightly, and not doing more than one thread, staying firmly anchored in the storyline of Patrick Lenton and his weird gnome + dog person journey. This is mostly because I really don’t have time for more, and as I’ve mentioned before, the danger of Aelyria is when you spiral out of control and suddenly have a seven short story equivalents to write every morning. The other is that I don’t understand some of the new game mechanics, and have no real desire to learn how time works.

But I think the real reason it’s not feeling like the grand old days is that I haven’t engaged socially. This shouldn’t be a surprise – this entire project is literally about engaging with the social aspect of the game, so without it, it’s vaguely hollow. Why haven’t I engaged socially? Once again – time, mostly. I also don’t know any current players, except for the people who I road tripped with. I also don’t know if they’re even playing anymore.

And I just don’t have the kind of life that’s conducive to sitting in a chat room or playing around on the OOC (out of character) forums. Back when I was younger, it was very much a community thing, about finding my people, especially outside of high school. I’ve written about this before. I’ve been writing an article about how important it was for me to find my community online, especially in regards to the protest against the Safe School’s initiative in Australia. My high school life went from barbaric to below tolerable, and homophobic assholes in Australia want to reject a program designed to specifically stop that from happening.

Although while I was writing this, I also thought about the downside of this kind of community. It was great for me when I needed it, and then when I didn’t, I pretty much fucked off without even a ‘LOL bye’. But for people more involved in the online community than me, there has to be a tension between wanting the social aspect and playing the game. Is your social life and friendships based on your actual engagement with the game? Are you allowed to come and hang in the chatroom if you’ve no longer the time/ inclination to write? Or does the social aspect simply mutate beyond the constraints of the game? Regardless of these questions, there’s also a lot of infighting and gossip, and I’ve seen what happens when a dominant clique makes the chat and forums become unwelcome for a person. All that safe harbour, all that feeling of belonging dissipates. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen in real life too – but perhaps there is something more vicious or subtle online. I don’t know. I feel like the rose tinted article about the joy of online communities has been written a few times – maybe I should write one about hate and bullying on fantasy game boards?


HELLO INTERNET BOY #42: Meeting your heroes

I have a general rule of never meeting my heroes. This isn’t because I’m worried they will disappoint me, but rather because I’ll say something stupid or dumb or offensive or creepy. Why ruin a perfectly good one sided relationship by making them aware of my existence? Why?

This whole HELLO INTERNET BOY project is based around the conceit of meeting people, of forcing a real life relationship. I think in this case it’s been overwhelmingly successful, but I feel like meeting people or celebrities or artists that you admire has so much more that can go wrong. I think because it’s inherently awkward, and there’s so much pressure on the more famouser person to do something, to perform or be witty or at least say something, while the other person waits with hungry, expectant eyes. At least that’s how I always imagine it – I think the reality is that far more gregarious people than me are easily able to carry out conversations with people they like and not make it weird. Bully for them.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mallory Ortberg, writer, creator of The Toast and just one of my absolute favourite writers in the world. She is so incredibly absurd and hilarious and talented, that when I got the chance to meet her, and it wasn’t a surprise thing where I jump out, slavering and with things for her to sign, but that she was actually prepared and keen to briefly say hi to me, I realised I had to take the chance. It’s all because of my excellent sister, by the way, nothing that I did. A day or two before, we were discussing Gilmore Girls via text message through the intermediary of my sister, and male/male erotica books, and when I got to the Opera House, she’d signed a copy of her books, with an inspiring message to my dogs.


And it was lovely – we saw her excellent talk at the All About Women Festival, and then we waited backstage and drank champagne and ate free food, and then she came back, we showed her lots of pictures of our dogs, discussed her starting a Dear Prudence only for pet issues, and then I think I explained what Wollongong is, and then it was over. I wasn’t funny or witty, but really, who is compared to Mallory? So that’s fine. I didn’t make an enemy, so I’ll chalk this up as a win. Not making enemies is a big concern in my life these days.

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.



HELLO INTERNET BOY #41: Say no to bunnies

Last night at my improv class, we were talking about bad behaviour on stage. From something so dumb, the ‘prov as it’s known, sure looks like it has a lot of rules. Although, it’s actually kind of a myth. Improv is kind of like painstakingly breaking down the process of communication, and building it back up again using idiots. Every “rule” is just another layer of basic process. The classic rules that people know about improv is the whole ‘say yes’ thing. It starts off being prescriptive, but after a while it’s not so much a rule as a layer. It’s about being open and receptive to what the other person on stage is trying to do, and not shutting them down. When you start off, you’re encouraged to literally never say no, in order to try and drum this into your head. Saying no is actually quite instinctual in improv, because we have this idea that drama and interesting things come from opposition, although it tends to actually just stall things, or spin a scene into a stalemate of bickering. After a while you’re actually allowed to say ‘no’ as long as that ‘no’ is in some way saying yes to the situation proposed. There’s something known as the ‘game’ of the scene, which is both the technical structure, and also somehow the soul of the whole thing. Saying yes to the game, can sometimes look like saying no to something a character is proposing. This is confusing, maybe I’ll go read my UCB handbook and explain this better.

Anyway, breaking down improv rules and talking about bad behaviour made me think about roleplaying, especially on Aelyria. It’s interesting, because the two mediums are so incredibly different, yet at their heart, they are exactly the same. There’s a lot of rules on Aelyria too. If you ask me, there’s way too many at the moment, and a lot of them involve complicated time-measuring systems. I have a lot of trouble telling the time in reality, let along in magic world. But the main, overarching rule of playing Aelyria used to be known as ‘no bunnying’. I don’t know if they use bunnying as a term anymore, but it basically means being true to the reality of Aelyria, and not overstepping your bounds. Bunnying can include giving your character knowledge that they couldn’t possibly know, like if there are assassins breaking into the castle in the night, just coincidentally waking up and putting plate armour on for no reason. Bunnying can also be affecting the world around you – like walking up to a tree and finding a deus ex machina apple in it, when your character is starving. In essence, bunnying is saying no to the reality of Aelyria. It’s literally rejecting the ‘game’. Everyone is helping construct a fantasy world, and to reject even a part of it, weakens the shared communication, the shared goal.

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.