Or; Still Waiting on the Revolution
I’m generally an early adopter when it comes to new gadgets and technologies. Unlike a lot of folks my age, I lack the ‘fear’ code that seems to govern the actions of so many of my friends. To me, computers have only ever been like fancy vacuum cleaners–just tools for me to use. My first computer was a laptop that weighed a ton–it was like hauling around a stone slab. I thought it was too cool.
Now, remember, when facebook first appeared, we didn’t talk about ‘social media’–the two words just didn’t fit together. I was beginning to develop and teach online courses at that time, though, and my learning curve was so steep it didn’t seem strange to add one more skill set. Instead, I thought, ‘hey, let me take a look at this; I wonder how I can use it.’
(Aside on a wild tangent: the animal I most strongly identify with is the crow. Underestimated, ubiquitous, uncanny, and sometimes upsetting [ok, ok; downright pestiferous], crows are curious and cannot resist the newest, shiniest things they encounter. However, during this most recent killing season [when the crows in my neighbourhood terrorize house sparrow nests and kill as many chicks as possible], I’m also reminded that crows should never, ever be discounted or ignored. Consider yourselves warned.)
To yeltnuh-the-crow, facebook looked amazing. I was already tired of the limitations of email and eager for spaces that weren’t built by and for techies. Nothing wrong with techies, but if you’ve ever hung out on the forums when new things occur, you might share my weariness with the testosterone-infused discussions of how best to accomplish your goals out of the 15 different options.
Facebook seemed a step closer to the user-driven technologies dreamed up by some of my favourite writers. I couldn’t wait to join the stream.
To be honest, it was incredibly boring in the beginning. Hardly anyone I knew was using facebook and many hadn’t heard of it. The potential seemed to be another cyberpunk dream. Sure, I could still see some people using it in innovative ways, but my expectations were far too high–and unfairly so–in the early fb days (before we could just put those two lower-case letters together without explanation).
Tap, tap: that’s the sound of my impatient foot while I awaited others.
And now, dear reader, I must turn these notes to tragic: my dreams for facebook turned into nightmares. All of a sudden, every relative I never knew I had, every playmate from my earliest years, and every trolling pervert found me. I couldn’t keep up with the wallpaper posts, with the ‘gifts’ (huh??), with untagging the photos posted by people who had never considered the word ‘privacy.’ How many Scrabble games can an old girl play? And truly, who CARES if I ‘like’ something? I can be arrogant and self-centred, but really. If anyone does care about what I like, s/he shouldn’t. What the heck do I know?
Within a year of the fb explosion, I had a meltdown. Too many people, wanting too much attention. Too many who wanted to be my ‘friend.’ In short, too much trash. Mafia Wars? Farmville? This was not the revolution I had joined.
So, I opted out. A surgical strike. No more friendly fire for this chickie, uh uh. Nope. Not doing it.
OR, when lilacs last in the dooryard bloomed (kudos to Whitman)
I used to be bold. In fact, I’m quite sure I was seen by others to be assertive and confident. Now I aspire to the state of bold (check the map; it’s close to the hamlet of satisfaction), which is a whole lot less satisfying. Purple socks for now.
These days (link to lacuna in ‘about me’; still no elaboration), as I try to force myself to live outside of my head, I find I’m shimmying in the right general direction, but making only crablike progress.
[confession and aside: the title above is incorrect, since I already AM old, but I prefer the sound of a sentence beginning with ‘when’]
You see, I’ve lately come to appreciate my superhero attributes: I am usually anonymous and invisible. I guess, the more miles on your feet (and face), the less substantial you become. The process must have started quite early and I should have realized that when people were repeatedly introduced to me–because they honestly didn’t remember encountering me before–I had the invisibility gene. In short, it has become full-blown and I can wander about both real and virtual worlds without causing the merest ripple in the [cliché alert] fabric of space.
Some people might be offended by evidence of their diminishing status,
but it gives me a new kind of freedom. I am completely inoffensive and non-threatening: how could I be anything else?
[updates to follow]