social media

Day 9: The Internet

The internet. (To be said with a deep sigh). Day 9 of Camp Nano Question of the day and I’ve decided to tackle a question that is currently a source of my mood. I woke up today and for no real reason, I felt, and still feel like I don’t want to deal with the internet. No, it’s not the internet, it’s social media. It’s such an invasive drain on my emotional and mental health and it has been and I know this, but I don’t stop because with the bad does come the good, and most times there is more good than bad, but at what cost? So let’s get on with it.

How long could you survive without the internet?

source: the internet

I grew up during an interesting time, one where we had computers in elementary school but all we could do with them was play games or type. It wasn’t until I was in high school that we ever got one in the house and we were one of the few because they were very expensive and kind of useless unless you were doing bookkeeping or playing Solitaire and Myst.

The internet arrived sometime in the early 90’s on floppy drives through the mail. And then you were charged by the hour. We didn’t have Google back then, Yahoo wasn’t a thing, there was no such thing as a search engine. You just put your disk in the drive, punched a phone number into your modem, waited awhile to see if you could connect and you had one homepage to direct you to your mail or a chat room. And you had one hour. The timer was set. I think it was actually less than that. I think you got 25 hours a month and then they would charge you by the hour. I remember I had a friend in high school get ADDICTED TO THE INTERNET and it was this big scandal because her parents got a $900 bill from Compuserve. “And who spends that much time on the internet?! What could you possibly do?!

25 hours a month, can you imagine?? I spend 25 hours a day on the internet now. And it wasn’t even that long ago. I remember in the late 90s when Colgate got a website and we were all like, “Why would Colgate need a website?” and one of my friends goes, “Well, there goes the internet. You know it’s not cool anymore when corporations get onboard. It’s going to ruin everything.”

Overall I think the internet is an amazing thing. People know more about the world, people are able to connect with people all over the world. It’s made more of us more socially aware, more politically aware (or misinformed…), it allows us to to connect with the world and information and our passions in ways we never had before.

There’s also a lot of bad about the internet and mostly in form of whatever drew me to it in the first place. Social Media. It wasn’t called social media back in the day, and it wasn’t the horrible place it’s become. It was fun, it was supportive, it was a creative outlet. When MySpace happened, I went from using the internet a couple of times a week to using the internet a couple of times a day. It was addictive. Everyone you knew had their own mini website! What a cool way to keep in touch with everyone and to let them know what you were into, what you thought was cool, what song you needed them to hear immediately upon opening your page. But it was still safe because you controlled it. You were in complete control of the information you chose to take in.

Soon everyone moved to Facebook. I remember this vividly. I had a Facebook back in 2006 because my sister-in-law was in college and she knew my love for social media and invited me in. That is when I became Colgate. This was back when it was meant for college kids only and you had to be invited to create a page. I was 30 and everyone was still on MySpace so I didn’t even try to figure Facebook out. Until 2 years later when I was alone on MySpace because everyone had jumped ship to the next biggest thing. Facebook.

At first Facebook was alright because you still had to actually go to someone’s page to interact with them. But then Facebook decided to Twitterize and soon, you got to read every single thought everyone was having, every single moment they were having it. All day. And you would scroll and scroll because you had to know why Sheila was having such a bad day you weren’t allowed to ask about it. And everyone you have ever known was there airing their dirty laundry like a soap opera in real time. It was addicting.

You got to know people in an intimate way that you never got to before. It was very voyeuristic. But there’s a limit to everything. My social media breaking point came in 2010. It was the mid-term elections and republicans swept up a bunch of seats in the house and senate giving them a majority. I am very liberal and I have a lot of liberal friends, but I also have some conservative friends, probably not as many anymore, but that’s the environment we live in now. But back to 2010, I could not believe the casually racist things I was seeing out of people in my “friends” from Facebook that just escalated from Obama’s first 2 years that when the GOP took over majority I was done with facebook for awhile. And actually, to this day, I have never gone back completely. For the past nine years, I log on to Facebook to say something that makes me laugh, scroll the suggested posts until I see one that makes me want to hit my head into the wall and then I close the app. In doing so, my mental health has skyrocketed when I didn’t even realize it was so bad. I was so angry at everything. And hurt by things I perceived as slights. I hated people. I took mental notes of who was liking what and whether or not they were liking my posts. And now I don’t even know. I can’t be bothered to care. And it’s so freeing. But even in limited form, I keep going back.

My husband got a new phone a few months ago and never installed the Facebook app and he says he feels so free. And he never had a Facebook problem. Can you imagine?? Not going on social media???

I keep ALMOST getting to the point of ditching Facebook, but for one, my birthday’s next week and you know how popular you feel on Facebook on your birthday, it’s like you’re the prom queen! Also, who’s going to laugh at my jokes if I ditch Facebook? Nobody else thinks I’m funny. How am I going to know my friend from college, Benilda died if not from an ominous post from her page talking about it in first person from the afterlife? How else will I get invited to join a pyramid scheme?!

What do people do without the internet all day? What are you going to get mad at? The outside? Well, actually, I am able to curse the outside quite a lot. Like right now. It’s too hot and I have to go to the store. I don’t want this.

I don’t see myself ever going internet free. Not even social media free even though I have cut way back. I keep going back because I miss the fun parts of social media. The good parts. The seeing friends part. But I can’t get as invested as I was. It’s not good. It’s even worse than your parents getting a $900 bill from Compuserve.

The Facebook Hiatus

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The husband and I have been binge watching Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and the Tina Fey episode was on. I’m in awe of Tina Fey. I don’t know how she has accomplished what she has while also somehow living with two small kids. I can’t even type this sentence with both hands because my 6 year old is currently hanging off my right arm, crying about his turn on the Xbox, and wiping his snot on my shirt. The main take-away from that episode, though, Tina Fey doesn’t use social media. I do. A lot. I’m going to assume that this is the only reason I am not as accomplished, and smart, and funny, and driven as Tina Fey. It’s the internet’s fault.

I don’t know if you’ve clued into the fact that I’m obsessed with the internet. I have been for years and years and years. It’s been a problem since high school and I graduated in 1994, so like, 7 years ago or something like that. My high school years were THE years that the internet started to take hold. It was real underground at the time and they charged you by the hour so we took the internet SERIOUSLY.

But my fascination with the internet has always been more specifically, on the social media wing of the mansion.  I think it started a million years ago with Prodigy, the online service provider that read all your emails, not to be confused with the guy with two mohawks, but I might also trust him to read my emails.

You know what? Anyone really can sign up for the job to be my email reader and email replier. Maybe then I can realistically pretend that I contribute to society.

Prodigy was amazing! There was nothing like it! I was OBSESSED with the Prodigy bulletin boards, most specifically, the Kids in the Hall bulletin boards. My moniker was Mr. Sizzler, or something.
Side note: I met two really amazing people on Prodigy and formed a comedy troupe with them, even though we lived thousands of miles away from each other. We wrote sketches via private Prodigy messages and emails, flew to each other and filmed sketches in snowstorms, and eventually we sent our best three sketches to MTV and Comedy Central which ended in us thisclose to being hired on as writers for a new comedy show for kids on Nickelodeon. We were Serious Artists so we said no. Ha! sigh, there went my beach house.

In the early 90’s, it was all about Prodigy. And then it wasn’t because everyone started jumping ship and going to AOL. So naturally, I too went to AOL because I need my internet attention!

All my online buddies were there!!!!! And we chatted and we danced. (we didn’t dance) And it was magical and wonderful.

I stayed up ALL. NIGHT. LONG. chattin’ up people. But this time it became weezer chat rooms.

I don’t even know what we chatted about but there was none of this looking stuff up on google crap. Google didn’t exist. You kind of had to know the web address, the whole http:// thing to get any info on the World Wide Web. So you’d talk to people that called themselves “paperface” who claimed to “bake cookies for the boys” (codeword weezer) and that’s how you got your info.  Because you were talking to people who KNEW weezer. Nobody lies on the internet.

I just realized that I was probably being catfished…

And then I moved from Denver to Los Angeles without a computer and the internet was ripped from my life. And for years I didn’t even care about it. And I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. I wrote poems and stories and plays! It was the most productive I’ve ever been in my life. It was probably about 6 years before I got back online and the internet had me in its hold again.

Because MySpace.

I thought MySpace was the coolest thing EVER. I had my own webpage. Holy crap! I didn’t have to search for people, they could search for me. I became like the queen of the internet in my mind.

 

And then people stopped coming by my page because facebook officially arrived. I already had a facebook but I never used it because the only other person I knew on there was my sister-in-law who was in college at the time and I wasn’t in college anymore, I was like a 30 year old woman or something so no one wanted anything to do with me on the facebook and I didn’t want anything to do with them. And then a couple of years later, everybody flocked to facebook, so I adapted because, don’t leave me, guys.

Now I tweet. I tumblr. I pinterest. I instagram. And then there’s facebook. I hate facebook.

The internet for me has gone from always being fun times and meeting cool people that I think longingly about with a smile on my face to wanting to punch a handful of people I know in real life in the head. Making mental burn lists used to take up a great deal of my time and emotional space. Politics was finally the thing that helped me slowly back away from most of my facebook feed. My life vastly improved. I’m not inexplicably angry at someone I met at work 15 years ago because of her rants about chemtrails. I’m free from that baggage. I’m not totally gone, though. Something will pop into my head that I think is kind of funny and up it goes to facebook ’cause that’s the only place people pay attention to me anymore, and there I am. Back in the fray.  Every like and funny comment drags me back in like a sparkly vampire.

 

So here’s the thing. I’m not trying to make any promises because we both know me. But I think I’m going to attempt to stay off facebook for like, a couple of weeks or so. Because I need to write. I have like 7 novels rattling around my head.  All my dumb status updates will come here to my blog. Maybe I’ll actually get a lot more done if I’m not all caught up in the other nonsense. It’s completely terrifying at the same time because people will forget me! Won’t they? Whatever, a lot of the great people I know and want to keep up with either aren’t going anywhere, or aren’t even on facebook anymore anyway. They’re on Instagram. I’m bad at Instagram, too. I’m not a great photographer and I can’t tell my dumb jokes in the medium they require. I’m not an instagram influencer. And the feed is all over the place! but I’ll try to keep up.

Alright, I’ll focus it all here, on my blog. Think of this as myspace. Come visit my page! Look at my glitter gifs! Leave me a comment! I promise I won’t make you listen to music as my blog pulls up.

 

For now.

 

 

The Elf on the Shelf

I’m re-gifting this post like a holiday basket of meats and crackers. Grab a beverage and enjoy this Christmas tale as old as time. Or two years. Whatever.

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Christmas time means that houses around the nation are flooded with all these naughty little elf faces doing all these naughty little elf things while reporting back to Santa on whether you washed your hands after you peed or not. The elf knows. He was watching you while he left mint poops in the toilet. And now we all know because your mom posted a picture of it on Facebook.

Now if you know anything about me, you know that setting up tableaux of espionage and wicked tomfoolery to mimic something I saw on Pinterest and then posting it on Instagram for status elevation is right up in my wheelhouse, and yet there is something about those cherry-cheeked little rats and their clandestine operations that sets my alarms to “Nope”.

When my oldest child, or Wally as I like to refer to him on the web because it subconsciously plants the “Amy’s like Donna Reed and totally has her life together!” seed in all your minds, well when Wally was around 2 years old, everyone kept asking me when I was going to hop on the Elf Express and invite one of these smiley spies into my home for the month of December. Intrigued, I did the natural thing and hit up my local Pinterest to check what these little rascals were about. Oh my eyes how they twinkled at all the glittery laughs and innocent fun!

“I’ll do it!”, I exclaimed to no one with a wink and one of those jaunty cross-body punches the kids do.

All that drunken Pinterest spirit fizzled, though when I saw that the toy store was selling those things for like $40 a pop. Forty dollars. For a stuffed elf. Plus those elves are kind of creepy looking, anyway. I don’t need that thing going all Chucky on me and slicing my Achilles tendon as I step out of bed one morning. It is not worth $40 to invite a demon into my home when I’m fairly certain I can do that for free with some red paint and carefully placed candles. Plus I don’t think that real demons can even hold knives so, cheaper AND safer.

Needless to say, the elf remained on the store shelf and I lived vicariously through my Facebook friends and their ever-increasing elf scenery that showed up on my tiny iPhone screen.

Still, the need to over-do everything nags at me to this very day and every year I wonder if I should either break down and buy an elf, pose some dinosaurs in festive ways, or just give in full stop and dress as the elf myself. The only problem with this plan is that I would have no photography assistance. My husband not only can’t manage to take a clear photo, but he also stays far away from my grand schemes and nonsense, so he’s out. Then there’s Wally who only takes selfies or really close up, arty shots of action figures doing strange things.

 

Source: my son

 

Source: my son

That just leaves The Beav and he’s 6. He’ll just take my phone, walk away and start playing Bubble Witch with it.

Also, the manipulation of this elf stunt is a whole different matter in that Wally, while incredibly imaginative, is also very scientifically biased; if he can’t see, touch, hear, or smell it, it doesn’t exist. For example, Wally informs me one Easter that “haha, the kids at school think the Easter Bunny is real, Mom! When it’s clearly just a man in a suit that comes into our house. Hahah fools,” and two years after that it was “Fairies don’t exist! Mom, please. It’s a man in a pink dress that comes in my room in the middle of the night and takes my tooth and leaves me money. Hahahah tooth fairies. Please.”. Because apparently a man in various costumes breaking into the house in the middle of the night, isn’t the weird part. I wonder if he thinks they’re all the same guy. So no matter how elaborate my lies about the elf menagerie become, he’s still going to know they’re not really spying on him and his brother and reporting back to Santa, and I don’t really need my kid being THAT kid that spoils it for the rest of the Christmas celebrating believers at the elementary school.

He would appreciate a James Bond themed elf set-up…. hmm…still no.

The more I think about these elves, the more I feel like sad, lonely business man, Michael Douglas who has just signed his life away by cashing in a gift certificate that my drifter brother, played by Sean Penn, gave me for a birthday gift, but I don’t know that anything is weird, yet, until the creepy clown, (elf), that I almost run over in my fancy, rich people driveway, (toy store), and decide to bring into the living room with me for some reason, (Pinterest and Facebook likes), starts to talk through the tv and vandalize my house while Jefferson Airplane blasts in the background as depicted in David Fincher’s 1997 film, The Game, that nobody wants to talk about with me anymore because, “Amy, that movie is like 20 years old. We’ve seen it. It’s good, but let it go!”. I hate everyone that I know.

Quite obviously, my desire to The Game everything is still in tact and I’m creeped out by inanimate things smiling at me. Put your smug face away, Elf, and tell me what you think you know. And don’t kill me please. Or tattle on me to Santa. Just, you know what? I’m just going to watch you ratting out all the other families this year on Facebook from the comfy position of not wearing pants and slouching on my couch.

 

Happy Holidays!