Internet Time Machine

The Theory of Visitors

Even though every relationship is ephemeral, that didn’t stop me from pursuing human connection

Sam Lansky
Human Parts
Published in
26 min readNov 10, 2017
Illustrations: Maria Medem

This story is part of the Internet Time Machine, a collection about life online in the 2010s.

I went on dates.

I went on a Tinder date with a schoolteacher who read me poetry aloud on his faded leather couch, but he seemed a little too earnest for me, so I went on a Hinge date with a musician who sang songs to me from the piano, but I was afraid to get involved with another creative type, and then I went on a Raya date with a movie producer who took me to a dinner so fancy it felt like a brag, and I imagined what it would be like to be a stepfather to his daughters, flaxen-haired sprites with names like Annabelle or Clarissa, but then I decided I was too young for all that, and I went on a date with a college student I met on Bumble who told me he couldn’t afford to eat out, so we sat on a curb on Sunset eating soft corn tacos from a truck on the corner, and for a moment I felt older than I really was, older than I had ever been before, though in fact I wasn’t even 30 yet.

I went on dates with older guys and learned to get their references, the same allusions to movies and television shows released before I was born that seemed to be touchstones for gay men of a certain age — of course I love Beaches! — but I also went on dates with guys my own age or even younger, and I was comfortable with their language, too, Snapchatting selfies from my bed captioned “tired af” dotted with sleepy-eyed emojis.

When I went on dates with successful guys, I knew what to say, commiserating over how crowded Soho House had become (it’s overrun!), but later I would complain to friends about their uninterrogated privilege and the high likelihood that they had secret cocaine habits, because rich guys so often do. When I went on dates with guys who were broke, I related to them, too, that needling anxiety of feeling like you never have enough in a city where everyone seems to have so much, but I would rule them out — telling friends that I needed someone more “worldly” and “accomplished,” this politely coded classism that still allowed me to feel good about myself.