Melissa and I have been reading Tyler Coates’ blog on Tumblr for years now, and like many people, have always felt like we’ve known him. Like I told him in the interview, whenever we made list of contributors for the book, we always hoped he would be one of them. The short bio in the sidebar on his blog reads, “I live in Chicago. I have a day job, I go to grad school, and I write stuff on the Internet.” We met on gchat today to talk about that last part!
meaghan: So a lot of people affectionately call you Tyler Coates: Man About The Internet. We know it’s sort of a joke but, you really do open up on the internet in a way that makes people feel like they know you.
tyler: I guess! it’s sort of weird to think that, sometimes. The “people who read my blog” are sort of invisible, anonymous people to me? Even though I know a lot of them, I guess. It’s just jarring sometimes to have someone reference something on my blog, and then I have to come to terms (again) with the fact that I DO put a lot about myself on the Internet. Last year at the Tumblr meet-up in Chicago, someone said that they were amazed at how much I reveal about myself on the Internet. And I thought that was so strange, because I didn’t think I revealed THAT much. I’m “introspective” by nature, which is the polite way of saying “self-obsessed.”
meaghan: Ha! Be careful, you are in mixed company!
tyler: hahaha. Well. I say all of that in jest, because I’m beating other people to the punch? Everyone is self-obsessed, but not everyone has a blog. Someone once defending it by saying that I was “thoughtful.” Which I appreciated a lot, and eventually used as one of the three adjectives to describe myself on OKCupid.
meaghan: Ha! So you mentioned recently on your blog how you were understandably hesistant to write so personally for this book.
tyler: Yes, I was a little scared, mostly because I don’t write about sex on my blog.
meaghan: But what put you over the edge and said yes this is something i should do?
tyler:I think my rationale was, “I can’t turn down an offer to be a part of a book, especially if I’m in such good company.” And I think I’m going to have to get used to being a bit uncomfortable with a wider audience reading my writing if I actually want to write for a living. And the story I wrote was also one I’d been wanting to write for a while.
meaghan:It’s funny to me because when we were asking people to contribute, or thinking about people to ask, you were always on our list, from the beginning. Reading your blog made us feel like we knew you and that you had something to say, so to speak. We wanted to see you go there. Even though you never wrote about sex really on your blog, you did touch on dating and relationships.
tyler: Right. Something that I find frustrating is that I feel like I’m seen as this gay guy who is soooooo emotional. Because men, in general, are supposed to be stoic, and, hey, I’ve always been “emotional.”
meaghan: So like when people are like, “Oh you’re so EMO on your blog, you share so much.” It’s just relative to expectations of what a guy should be sharing.
tyler: Yeah! Personally, I hate that word (emo) because it doesn’t MEAN ANYTHING. It’s like “hipster” It’s boring. Come up with a new insult if that’s what you’re getting at.
meaghan: You’re right, now the word “emotional” is an insult. As if having feelings is something to be ashamed of (OY)
tyler: Right! And that’s why I get so confused when people claim I share so much about myself, and they could NEVER do that.
meaghan: It’s an interesting thing, especially with this book— saying, “Yes, I have sex and sometimes have feelings about it,” seems to some people like we are admitting something, when I’m thinking, “Um, we are all Human, remember? This is no secret! I know all of you experience the same thing!”
tyler: I feel like I am distrustful of people who DON’T think about it that way!
meaghan: Who don’t think about sex that way? or Life.
tyler: Right. I overanalyze everything. Once someone told me that he had trouble having a conversation with me because I thought too much about stuff. Which is THE OPPOSITE OF AN INSULT. And, luckily for him, I didn’t talk to him after that.
meaghan: Ha! So a lot of your story is about your first boy experience— what made you want to tell that story, you said you had wanted to for awhile
tyler: Well, mostly because I think it’s funny. Because the other half of the story is about my first STD scare (“Baby’s First STD Scare”), which is always a crowd-pleasing story. I think I wanted to tell the story not because the experience affected me so emotionally (it didn’t, really), but because it is the sort of experience that a lot of people have. I described the story to a lot of friends, and I heard the same thing: “I was so scared after I lost my virginity,” or “I immediately assumed I was pregnant.”
meaghan: yes! there is something in that storytelling, whether it’s over brunch or in a book where when you say it out loud or write it and other people say “Yes! me too!” it’s just the best feeling in the world.
tyler: This isn’t in the story, but when I was freaking over it, my father told me, “When I had sex for the first time, I was TERRIFIED.” Which is a sweet fatherly thing to hear, but also made me want to die because it was coming from MY FATHER.
meaghan: Well now you can hand this story to your children. HAHAHAHA. (God help us) Are you going to let your mom read this?
tyler: Probably not. I may eventually break down and tell her about it, but I don’t think she needs to read it. For one thing, she will figure out who the guy is!
meaghan: Ha! What about the guy?
tyler: I don’t talk to him anymore. I don’t think I talked to him much after we fooled around the one time. We’re Facebook friends!
meaghan: HAH I was just going to ask! Maybe he will buy the book.
tyler: That was why I did not post a link on Facebook!