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Laura Hunt

Love in the Times of the Internet

by Johanna Kaestner

Anita and Jim

Back in 1992 Jim discovered the Internet chat rooms and found solace and escape from a failing marriage. He wrote to his first "pen pal" during the course of a year without seeing any pictures or meeting her. Nevertheless, he fell madly in love. The shock came when he saw her the first time, and the independent, self-assured woman he had imagined, turned out to be passive and meek.

Two years later Anita, a computer science major, researched chat rooms professionally. As a movie buff, she was quickly hooked once she found a chat room with the same topic. It later turned out that the Internet would save her life. A difficult childhood followed by a difficult marriage had started her to drink heavily. When she was completely lost, devastated, and about to give up, she found the chat room of AA, Alcoholics Anonymous. Jim, a recovered alcoholic, also was a visitor of that site. He helped her to make steps in the right direction and guided her through a crucial year.

In the meantime, Jim divorced his wife and Anita was separated from her husband. They lived in different cities 2,000 miles apart and their relationship was based mostly on shared advice related to each other's businesses. Anita soon realized she had to move away from her stifled past and looked for an area in which she already had some friends. Subconsciously, Jim might have played a role in her decision to move to the city where he lived.

A few months later they started their own Internet company and at the same time their loving relationship. It was based on friendship, understanding, and the knowledge that they were right for each other. It was strong enough to have survived their company's ups and downs through the Internet craze during the last few years. Since April, Anita proudly sports her engagement ring, as she and Jim plan to get married next year.

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