Factual/Fictional Response to Jenny Lapekas’ “What Do You Wanna Talk About?”

On the website, littlefiction.com, I decided to look into a collection they had called, “Re/Coded: a nonfiction anthology about our digital lives,’ as it related to the digital communication theme I explored in my last workshop piece. I decided to read “What Do You Wanna Talk About?” by Jenny Lapekas. That question always unsettles me in real-life, as it’s very unnatural way to get into a conversation about something, and often only leads to a skeptical debate that makes for a very unsatisfying conversation. I thought the title meant a conversation would occur with this said, but really it’s just something written on a site that hosts a chat room that the author visits.

She provides pieces of a digital conversation she has with a man in the chat room. Digital conversations have the advantage of easily being reproduced identically, when the author knows ahead of time that they will use it to write about it. This ironically increases skepticism for me. That the author knows that they will use the conversation, means the author’s side of the conversation isn’t natural. I would like to hear specifically when this isn’t the case.  I want to know that the author didn’t realize she/he would end up writing about the conversation. A person aware that they conversing only for a story, isn’t part of the story, but rather an interviewer, or someone conducting a sociology experiment. This piece doesn’t explicitly make that clear and I don’t like that. It’s fairly clear that it isn’t contrived at the end of the story, but it hurt me giving her credulity earlier.

In my last writing exercise, I took a lot of criticism for not having enough text speak or making the dialogue lazier, as some people text that way. However, the way two characters were texting were similar to how I talk with most of my friends. We talk with complete sentences, trying to be grammatically correct, and with no spelling errors. The only text speak I use are: :), lol and haha. And I only use these when I need something to have a more neutral or positive tone that I fear might not be conveyed. The two people in this piece were unlike me and my friends. I’m not sure what the percentages are between the two types of people, but now I really want to know.

The story of the relationship wasn’t successfully conveyed. A cute joke exchanged about The Wizard of Oz and several examples of the man complaining about younger women were they only examples we get of them bonding. There were no examples of one of them confiding and receiving an epithetical reciprocation. She tries justifying why the two need each other, rather explaining how they were becoming close. Sometimes people justify relationships that aren’t well-reciprocated, but then the story should be about that. It’s not a story about emotional interaction or lack-there-of.

Writing good non-fiction requires recognizing important transition. The author transitions the relationship from a mundane chat room conversation to talking everyday on the phone, and then to meeting in real-life, with nothing tying these events together. In the end this story was nothing more than a poorly written case study, suggesting that one instance of a person transitioning into a pleasant first date ending with sex from a chat room, is somehow empirically significant.


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