I have never been on Facebook.
There. I said it. Funny how I’m perfectly ok to admit that in person. Well, ok to a point – people are simply quite baffled by it -it’s beyond comprehension. (I like to mess with their heads by asking “What’s Facebook?” They get so offended.) But I’ve never felt safe to admit it out in the open. Out there…in… space. I guess basically because I know it’s baffling and beyond comprehension.
So it goes without saying that I’ve also never tweeted. The thought terrifies me. Partly because it should really be “twitted”. Or people should be on Tweeter. Either one. It simply makes no sense to be tweeting on Twitter. That just bugs me. I do kind of like the idea of funny people throwing out funny shit to the world all day long, but really, how often does that happen? Be honest. Plus, I can’t get past the abbreviations. I literally can NOT figure them out. I once texted someone a semi-important question to which I really needed the answer, and the response was “AFAIK”. I lost hours over that. Who or what the fuck is AFAIK? I just need to know if the carnival fundraising meeting is still set for Friday. Is AFAIK a new coffee shop? We’re meeting there now?
My husband hates the abbreviations more than I do. His texts are literally 4 inches long, with proper punctuation and everything. And don’t even think of sending him an emoticon. He will not respond. In fact, he may never text you again. He will write you off for that shit. He once gave me a hard time for using “w/” in a text. Really?
But back to Tweeter, how do you people understand the hashtag? How exactly does that work? Are you assigned a hasthtag? How does it end up out there…floating over our heads in the ether, to be… followed? So scary. And when in the hell did we all stop calling it a pound sign?
My very young son recently started signing his name (on sweet love notes to me!) with a hashtag before his name. I laugh – ha ha how does he even know what that is? – but that laugh is really just a mask to cover my deep-seeded fear that he’s crossed over, I’ve lost him, as all parents are bound to do at some point. But already? And might I add that I’d so much rather be like the parents of the 50s and 60s who lost their children to the sinning, hip-grinding Elvis Presley or to those crazy, moptop Beatles. I do not want to lose my precious boy to Mark Zuckerberg.
I recently decided to try Instagram. It seemed like a fair compromise for me, the non-social networker, to attempt to network. Or socialize. Or net some social work. So I now have an Instagram account. Yay. It took me no less than half an entire afternoon to settle on my username. And half of that time to figure out which was my username and which was my sign-in name, or if they were in fact different. Basically which name would people see, and how clever should I be with it? Is it safe to use my full name and if I didn’t use my full name would anyone even be able to find me? And fuck, what if they did find me?
And so the second part of that afternoon was spent turning my Instagram “privacy” switch off and then on and then off again. Frantic at the thought of anyone in the world seeing my photos eventually lost out to a completely unanticipated fear that, if I kept them private, no one would bother to “request” to see them anyway. How sad. (And also, should they make such request, I wouldn’t know how to allow them access. How sad.) The issue was finally settled once I searched “Lena Dunham” and her entire Instagram world just opened wide up to me in all its hazy orange early morning celebrity New York glory. Poring over her life took up all of one late night. If TV’s hottest new IT person is perfectly fine with weirdos from who-knows-where checking out her shit, then certainly I could leave my privacy button off.
Truth be told I do actually kind of enjoy Instagram, if only for the fact that I can take hideous photos of my washed out face and, by adding some burnt sienna here, a little 1977 dope vibe there, a touch of late afternoon sun, and some well-placed out of focus action… I look…voila! less pale and washed out.
But I do find Instagram’s whole caption and comment and “like” thing stressful. I thought “like” was only for Facebook, no? Can you actually still “like” something and NOT be on Facebook? I thought “like” – the actual word, as previously used in our English lexicon- had been replaced by something else (just as a pound sign is now a hashtag).
And really the whole picture content thing is pretty unsettling too. I mean, I don’t think you’re supposed to put normal photos of your kids or other people on Instagram right? A few now and then but only if they like, just had sex or are smoking a cigarette and the smoke swirling around the face looks like the pope or something. Really the shots are supposed to be of things – not the smoker so much as a dirty, butt-filled ashtray with the caption “Rehearsals went too long” or “I’ll kick tomorrow”. Anything artsy and cool, gritty and real. Always always, real. This shit is real, right?
And let’s touch on the issue of time, the actual mom-hours , it took for me to become an Instagrammer: to sign up, choose, change, change, and change my username (or sign-in name? I still don’t know which), edit, load, and caption about seven (only seven!) photos, search for followers, turn on off on off on off the privacy switch, view the shots of my new followees, craft comments (and then delete same for lack of wittiness), contemplate the huge commitment of “liking” a photo or two, and then obsess over Lena Dunham’s Insta-life. It was an entire day … and night. I have a job. And a child. A husband, pets. There’s homework and dishes and bills. Exercise to avoid, writing to block, dinner to pick up, TV to zone out to….So how in hell’s fuck do the rest of you have the time to post, Like, tweet, comment, and hash some tags?
What I’m trying to say is I’m lost in all this. And I realize, as much I’m loathe to admit it, that it’s my refusal to tweet or share or post that is to blame. I tried to stay true to that refusal, to stay staunchly opposed, but I’m losing out and although I might never acquiesce (remember, I’m terrified of hash pounds), I am ready to admit that I have lost. Because I am lost. Lost in space. You win. I have no network. No social. But you, the rest of all of you, you are Linked in and liked aplenty. But not me. I’m out here, face pressed to the glass, looking in. See, here’s a picture… don’t you like it?
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Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian
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