Dear Fuck-Up: With special guest Neko Case

Neko Case helps answer a question about the hazards of falling in love online.

Dear Fuck-Up: With special guest Neko Case

Neko Case helps answer a question about the hazards of falling in love online.

Brandy Jensen, The Outline’s social media editor, has made a lot of mistakes in her life. Has she learned from them and become a wiser person as a result? Hahaha oh gosh no. But it does leave her uniquely qualified to tell you what not to do — because she’s probably done it.

This week, our Fuck-Up is joined by special guest Neko Case, who is a wildly talented and successful artist rather than a fuck-up. Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Dear Fuck-Up,

I was duly assigned a crush when I joined Twitter who happens to be Canadian, and cannot decide if I have found my soulmate or fallen through a rabbit hole into mental instability. He is smart, funny, polite (obviously) but with a very satisfying dark edge, and we have a lot in common. We have followed each other for years, and low-key interacted for a long time before something tipped over into more direct and frequent contact within the last few months.

We text daily and are making plans to meet in person — safely, in a neutral and very public location. There has been talk, on both sides, about how the logistics could possibly work if there's really something there.

Is this... insane? Is it possible that I have really found someone amazing online and that this could work out, or am I avoiding the harsh realities of real, local dating? He is very much online and there is an abundance of online information that supports who he represents himself to be. We’ve had so many deep talks about everything that matters. But he’s a Canadian that I “met” on Twitter. My friends roll their eyes at me.

Should I meet him, or get some counseling?

Hashtag Nuts

Dear #nuts,

Fuck-Up: Okay, my first thought on this: I feel like it is part of my ongoing mission to disabuse people of the notion that all Canadians are unfailingly polite. We can be assholes.

Neko Case: Yeah, you guys can be assholes sometimes through politeness, however. Politeness can be, a decent percentage of the time, passive aggressive.

FU: Yes. So the fact that this guy presents as polite is not necessarily a point in his favor.

NC: Right. Plus, when you’re trying to impress people you show a certain version of yourself. I think a month is the timeframe in which that mask starts to slip a little bit. Give it about a month to see the cracks showing.

FU: Oh I always give it far longer than that and then turn around and wonder what happened.

NC: I mean it’s easy for me to say but I also fuck that up every time.

FU: How do you feel about meeting people online? It’s embarrassing to admit but Twitter is the primary way I meet people these days so I’m going to have a generous perspective here.

NC: It’s not something I can do... Even if I wanted to I couldn’t do it. And you know I live in a region where there are not people my age let alone people my age who are single so local dating was not a real thing for me. I'm sure it's not real for a lot of people. You got to be honest with yourself right. So I know it’s exciting to meet someone far away but you gotta spend time around each other where there’s not the pressure of you having to leave in three days because that will either ruin things or make you go too fast and that’s a real recipe for disappointment.

FU: Oh definitely, but my hot take opinion is that I think Twitter is actually the best dating app. I think Twitter is better for meeting potential paramours than Tinder or any of the other ones. You do kind of get more of a sense of somebody over an extended period of time if you follow each other for a few months.

NC: But it also gives you a better indication what you can pretend to be to please that person. So sometimes people can be a little manipulative with what they know about you.

FU: There is definitely a tendency on Twitter to like be a little bit more vulnerable than you might be in another strictly dating scenario. In my own life I cling to this admittedly romantic notion that it’s our duty to be reckless with our hearts but, practically speaking, that does not tend work out for me. But I also tend to pick men who are emotionally withholding, so that can be a problem.

NC: I’m definitely over being reckless.There’s this weird thing that I think women buy into without even knowing it is — that we’re supposed to be this transformative element for men. And then that is seen by men as “Oh, you think you can change me.” But no, I’m trying to make an environment for you to be who you were in those moments that made me fall in love with you — that openness and happiness. So there’s a lot of misunderstanding in there. But then women feel like failures and hate themselves and blame themselves when those things don’t work out, when they simply weren’t being realistic in the first place.

FU: Well, women blaming themselves for the failures of men is certainly a thing.

NC: That’s our fucking forté. That’s what we’re best at.

FU: Still, I don’t think she’s crazy to go meet this person in real life, right? That’s a manageable risk.

NC: Yes. Maybe they don’t hook up but they’re pals. Maybe they are meant to be great friends. Men and women aren’t just here on the earth together to make fucking babies! We’re meant to be teammates. We can be friends, we can be colleagues, we can be so many things to each other. Dating and relationships are not the end all be all of human existence, which is hard to remember when are in your breeding years. Like that’s such a fucking heavy impulse even if you don’t want have a kid. The lie about finding your counterpart, like you’re only half a person. There’s so much shitty mythology and dumb pop songs that really reinforce that.

FU: Lizard-brain impulses are such a bitch! I’ve made so many mistakes that I feel I can definitely blame on a combination of biology and patriarchy. But in our question-asker’s case it’s all intellectual. I think people who are sort of like, vaguely in your life who you’re interested in but never really pursue can be very dangerous. You’re always going to wonder, and then the next person comes around and will inevitably disappoint you, because he is real and present, and you’ll imagine what the far-away guy would do. We’re so good at making fictions of each other in ways that never serve us.

NC: We need to get rid of the idea that there is a person that you are going to meet and you’re going to be completed. As if both of you aren’t going to change into different people.

FU: She should meet up with Canadian Twitter guy, but he isn’t her soulmate because soulmates are bullshit.

NC: Yeah, don’t believe in that stuff. It sounds like a dashing dreams against the rocks but no — it makes way for a more sane sort of love that is so much more fulfilling.

FU: You’ve got to be a little cruel to yourself at the outset, in terms of letting go of this fantasy, in order to be kinder to both yourself and other people in the long run.

NC: It is a nice fantasy. It’s like “look at that beautiful lake, look at that ice. Oh surely it can hold my weight this time.”

FU: I agree completely, but also I’m often cold and wet. Go meet the guy.

Neko Case’s new album Hell On is available 6/1 via Anti-

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Photo Credit: Emily Shur