Later, I saw this firsthand as an attendee I’d befriended over way too many matches of Speed Chess processed the stuff he’d taken to heart over a beer with me. It’s noteworthy that at a normal event I’d be extremely wary of sitting down for a beer with a guy I didn’t know to begin with, much less willing to share a cab home like we’d done the night before, brows knit in a troubled chat about Gamergate. Having identified as female for quite a while now, the accounts of vengeful sexism didn’t shake me in quite the same way (they do that every day!), but watching that sink in for him as he actively listened to my own unsavory stories was an indescribably powerful experience. (…)
Paul Ford gave the final talk. I’d followed his Internet handle, @ftrain, and his floppy disc avatar for a while. On stage, he explained that in Brookyn, he used to watch the F slip by his window. It was a chilling coincidence then when he paused to quietly confide in the audience that years before, he’d considered stepping in front of a train, stepping out of his own life. Instead, he went home and told his wife. He built things online, took the solace he could in technology, in the process and the processing, in building better tools to remember it all—to remember things that weren’t even his to remember, like what his dad might have listened to on the radio.
My friend Julie was killed by a train, but not that train. Before I knew anything about technology, I took the F train to work every morning. I always liked how it flickered into the dark subway tunnels and back out again over the East River, playing chicken with the light.
In XOXO’s final moments, two tearful Andys (founders McMillan and Baio) took the stage to dedicate the whole event, all of those hacks and dreams and feelings, to their friend, Chloe Weil. On July 9, Baio’s blog reads “For the second time in 18 months, I’ve lost a friend to depression—a unique, young talent with their greatest years ahead of them.” Her Instagram avatar is a pixelated cat wearing sunglasses. In pictures, she looks funny and young and smart, not lost. “Chloe Weil tasted words.”