Everyone can remember their first time. Me? It was the summer of the year 2000. I was 17, he was 18, and it was at my birthday party, in my parents' driveway. I'll always remember Ewan: his long black hair, his trenchcoat, his squeaky voice. The first person I met off the internet. We exchanged greetings, stood around awkwardly, and then he pulled some random girl which meant I didn't have to speak to him. Which suited me very well indeed, since in real life his voice was even squeakier than it had been over VoIP.
The last guy? His accent was infinitely better. A DJ, from Detroit no less, and this time we turned it around: we did things back to front, as it were. We met in a nightclub a few weeks ago, and since then we've become engaged.
Got a dirty mind? Clean it. This is all about the internet: because in my life, nearly everything is about the internet.
Back to the beginning. My whole experience of the world changed as early as 1998, when my father got an AOL CD in the post. It wasn't long afterwards that he got a second phone line, as I discovered Tripod, Geocities
and then, for two beautiful years, Napster.
In sixth form, I met a group of nerd-boys who showed me how to code my own websites using various free hosting and domain registration services. I learned the web as it evolved: I coded frames, and then tables - and when the older ones inevitably left to study maths and science at Cambridge, they helpfully continued to teach me the beginnings of CSS over instant messaging service ICQ. One of them was friends with Ewan, and brought him to my parents' legendary summer party after we clicked through our shared love of heavy metal (oh, the shame). At the party, we distinctly un-clicked, and I thought that would be that.
Of course, the world is a different place now. Some of my oldest friends are now people I have come to know via the internet - and most of my newest friends too, through Twitter. It's strange to think how lonely I would have felt, moving to Manchester, without the knowledge that I could occasionally go and impose myself upon Mof Gimmers and chums.
It was during one of these impositions that my beady eyes first alighted upon my new internet fiance, DJ Meph. Those of you wishing to stalk him can do so at djmeph.net. We spoke fairly briefly - just enough for me to work out he was worth following on Twitter. The rest is history: in short, we are both epic trolls and have hoaxed our friends abominally.
Props to Daniel Pass for setting us up on Leap Day: I proposed while my prey was asleep, and when he awoke to find a stream of tweets about chloroform and canapes he was moved to make it Facebook Official. I logged on that night, accepted his friend request and was immediately met with a maelstrom of congratulations on my new relationship status as it dawned upon me that I'd finally met someone as mischievous as myself.
His many friends were lured into dozens of comments, but mine (alas) are more experienced in the Ways of Helen. I fended off streams of text messages with a standard reply, and sat back waiting for the news to spread to my mother.
During this deliciously agonising period I had time to reflect, as I have many times before, on the way we all of us rely so completely upon technology which as children we could never have dreamed of. I remember the wonder my little brother and I experienced when rescued from a car crash by a business man with a gigantic car phone: nobody imagined that twenty years later I'd be casually using its great, great, great grandphone to announce my digital relationship to a man I was communicating with through a third cousin of the computerised typewriters the legal secretaries at my dad's office were using to type up conveyancing documents.
It's an interesting thought, and not one which can be covered in just one blog post. It would be like trying to summarise my whole life in one ANSI-formatted TXT file opened in MS Notepad (which is, as it happens, what I am currently typing this into - old habits die hard). But just imagine: if technology has changed so much about the way we live and communicate now, what will the world look like for our children?
Luckily for DJ Meph, internet babies have yet to be invented: but it can only be a matter of time. The world saw its first internet marriage way back in 1996, and let's face it, stranger things really have happened: it's just that now they have, they're no longer strange...
While we all ponder this incredibly profound thought (and while DJ Meph gets his legal team together to pen the first official restraining order of what I'm sure will be a long and beautiful relationship) I'll leave you with the bloody awful song all of us have had nagging away at our brains since you read the title of this blog post. Sorry for that, by the way.