STEVE INSKEEP, host:

OK, we've all heard stories about how the Internet is supposed to revolutionize commerce, spread democracy, bring people together. But there are times when the technology accidentally takes you into uncharted territory. For NPR's David Kestenbaum, that territory seemed to be just a short distance away from the "Twilight Zone".

DAVID KESTENBAUM: One evening I'm sitting in my living room, totally minding my own business. I'm listening to music on the computer using this program iTunes. You know, You know, I have all my favorite music there. I have downloaded some TV shows. Frankly, I'm a little bored. I'm wishing I had some new music to listen to.

(Soundbite of music)

KESTENBAUM: And this strange this happens. You know, my music's all in a little folder on the computer. And right next to my folder pops up a new folder that I've never seen before and it says Anna's music. And I think, Anna's music? Who's Anna? And I click on it and I open it up and the weird thing is, it's me.

(Soundbite of song "Girl")

KESTENBAUM: Like, everything I have, she has. I have Beck; she has Beck.

(Soundbite of song "Girl")

BECK (Singer): (Singing) I saw her, yeah, I saw her with a black tongue tied round the roses.

KESTENBAUM: I have Beth Orton; she has Beth Orton. I have The White Stripes; she has The White Stripes.

(Soundbite of song "My Doorbell")

The WHITE STRIPES (Singing Group): (Singing) I'm thinking about my doorbell. When you gonna ring it? When you gonna ring it?

KESTENBAUM: And then I go into downloaded TV shows and she has "Lost" there and it's the only thing she's downloaded and that's the only thing I've downloaded.

(Soundbite of TV show "Lost")

(Soundbite of knocking)

Unidentified Man: Who is this?

(Soundbite of knocking)

Unidentified Man: Hello?

KESTENBAUM: So I go to iTunes to try and figure out what's going on, and I go into the help menu and there's an entry for shared music. And it said the shared music feature is for when you have music on one computer in one room and you want to play it off a second computer in a different room. And I'm thinking, what other computer in another room?

KESTENBAUM: I think I literally, like, looked over my shoulder because I'm the only person in the house.

And so I'm pretty freaked out, and so I call my wife.

Ms. KESTENBAUM (Wife of David Kestenbaum): And I was at work and I remembered that I had taken down our firewall for our wireless Internet, which would mean anybody nearby with a wireless card could easily use our Internet. So that's what I thought was going on.

KESTENBAUM: So I realized this is not someone out on the Internet; this is someone in the neighborhood. So I calmed down a little bit and I listened to the music and it's great. I mean, she's like a cooler version of me. It's like the best radio station ever. I thought she's going to be my new best friend. I have a new best friend in the neighborhood. This is what the Internet is for.

And so I decide I really want to meet this person, except that I have no way to get in touch with her until I click on one song...

(Soundbite of music)

KESTENBAUM: ...and her e-mail address pops up.

(Soundbite of music)

KESTENBAUM: So now I do have a way to get in touch with her.

(Soundbite of music)

KESTENBAUM: So I type her an e-mail that says in essence, I'm not a stalker, I'm not a stalker, but this weird thing just happened and your music popped up on my computer; and it's really great and maybe my wife and I should have you over for dinner some time. I mentioned my wife, you know. I mean, it's a little weird, but she's stealing our Internet. You know, I'm trying to be nice.

Anyway, I'm getting ready to turn the lights out and go to bed when through the wall of my apartment I hear this song.

(Soundbite of song "Mad World")

KESTENBAUM: And it's a song that I know I have on my computer. And I think, oh, my gosh, she's not somewhere, like, out there on the Internet. She's not someone just in the neighborhood; she's right through the wall there. She's right behind the chest of drawers.

(Soundbite of song "Mad World")

Mr. GARY JULES (Singer): (Singing) ...daily races going nowhere, going nowhere...

KESTENBAUM: So this is really awkward. So I go to bed and the next day I'm expecting to have an e-mail from her, except that I don't get one.

(Soundbite of song "Mad World")

Mr. JULES: (Singing) ...no expression, no expression...

KESTENBAUM: And in fact weeks go by and months, and I think about it periodically and I can't understand why she didn't e-mail me back. I just can't understand it.

(Soundbite of song "Mad World")

Mr. JULES: (Singing) ...no tomorrow. And I find it kind of funny...

KESTENBAUM: At some point, my wife goes out of our apartment and goes to look at the names on the doorbells in the neighborhood. So she comes back in and she says, there is an Anna in the neighborhood, but she doesn't live behind the chest of drawers; she lives on the other side behind the mirror. So now I know where she lives and I think about it. And I get up the courage and I go over there and I ring the doorbell.

(Soundbite of ringing)

ANNA: Hello?

KESTENBAUM: Hi, Anna?

ANNA: Yes.

KESTENBAUM: My name is David. I live next door.

ANNA: Yeah.

KESTENBAUM: Uh...

ANNA: You sent me an e-mail.

KESTENBAUM: Yes, I sent you an e-mail.

ANNA: Actually, hold on. I'll be right out.

KESTENBAUM: OK.

(Soundbite of phone hanging up)

KESTENBAUM: And she comes out, doesn't invite me in, closes the door. We stand there in the vestibule and it's one of those, like, arms crossed conversations where you're friendly, sort of I-know-you-but-I-don't-really-know-you kind of conversations. And it turns out she was sort of freaked out by the e-mail.

ANNA: I didn't - I mean I didn't trust it, necessarily. I wanted to, but I didn't. I told my friend about it and she was, like, don't write him back. You already had my e-mail address so...

(Soundbite of laughter)

ANNA: I'm like this guy could come to my house. And you did.

(Soundbite of laughter)

KESTENBAUM: It was really awkward. I felt terrible afterwards. I went home and my wife just laughed at me.

Ms. KESTENBAUM: You felt like this is somebody who was your musical soul mate and was going to sort of instantly be your best friend. And maybe I was a little jealous of her and I was a little gleeful that you got rejected by her.

KESTENBAUM: Like, part of me wants to blame the Internet for creating this awkward social situation that there's no established etiquette for.

Ms. KESTENBAUM: Don't you think awkward social situations have long predated the Internet?

KESTENBAUM: In other words, it's not like the Internet has made us stalkers; we already were stalkers.

Ms. KESTENBAUM: Yeah, it's just a new kind of awkward.

KESTENBAUM: The end of this story is that we've basically crawled back in our cave. We've put the firewall back up so no one can use our wireless Internet and she hasn't come over for dinner. I'm still sad about it.

(Soundbite of song "The Shining")

BADLY DRAWN BOY (Musical Group): (Singing) Faith pours from your walls drowning your calls. I've tried to hear. You're not near...

INSKEEP: That's NPR's David Kestenbaum. And you can sample new music Web sites customized play lists at npr.org.

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.