This message will self-destruct. Since I’m writing this blog using Snap Chat, it totally will. Poof. All my stupid gone in an instant. No. I said nothing to no one. Where’s your proof? It doesn’t exist. So there.
I’d like to think I know my way around social media. That I could take a new form of it like James Bond accepting his latest gadget from Q. Burn a hole in the conference room wall, but do it with style and purpose and not accidentally at all. I burned that hole there because I am the coolest damn spy ever. They can replace that wall, but they can never replace me. I have a license to kill. This new form of social media doesn’t even have an IPO yet.
If I told you I adapted to new forms of social media with the style and elegance that Bond shows when he sets fire to the owner’s manual of his new watch totally on purpose using a laser beam from the watch to do it, I’d be lying. I make my way through the minefield of new forms of social media like a blind man trying not to blow my legs off in a real minefield. I step here. Boom. I prod the earth with my toe there. Ouch. I accidentally stepped into Foursquare. I don’t want to be the Mayor of Starbucks. No thanks.
One day I came home from doing nothing in particular. Robyn was sitting in bed with a computer in her lap. “Watchadoin?” I asked. “I’m tweeting.” There was a bird symbol on her screen and a lot of short messages that meant nothing to me. “Sure you are. I’m all about the Twitter. A perfect twit. That’s me.” She looked at me severely. “You have no idea what Twitter is, do you?” I nodded. “Well. It’s about birds. I got that much. Any fool can see that.”
One day Robyn’s pictures got sepia toned all of sudden. “What’s that about?” I asked. “It’s called Instagram.” I nodded. “Yes it is. I knew that.” She looked at me again. “But isn’t that like cheating photography to be able to manipulate the image that much?” I asked. She nodded. “No. It isn’t.”
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, there was AOL. My wife was an early adopter. Of course she was. So was I. Yes. I was all about AOL in the heady, steamy days of You’ve Got Mail and chat rooms with names concocted by Satan himself. They may as well have all been titled “Danger, Will Robinson.”
Would you like to hear the little-known story of how I met my wife? We never tell this to anyone. It’s a family secret. No? Here it goes anyway. We start chatting in the mildest, least offensive chat room Facebook has ever spawned. The chat room is titled North Carolina. Unbelievable, you say. Sad but true, I tell you.
There in the most vanilla chat room ever with amid paste-colored wallpaper we meet and chat. I am a newspaper writer. Robyn is thinking about going into journalism. “You’ll never make any money,” I tell her. I am poor as dirt, but happy as a clam working in Hayesville, North Carolina on the edge of nowhere for a weekly paper where I write nearly all the stories, edit them, take pictures sometimes and paste them line by line onto huge boards before they are toted to Tennessee to be printed because it’s cheaper there.
I write so many of the stories that the editor tells me we need to change something about my byline. We have tried putting it in front of the stories and in back of the stories just to vary the effect. “Readers are telling me that it looks like you write all the stories,” she tells me. “That’s probably because I write all the stories,” I explain. “Would you like me to write some of them using a pseudonym?”
Anyway, I meet my wife in the blankest white space AOL ever concocted and we start chatting. I tell her all about my writing life. She tells me I am cool. She wants to grow up to be me someday. I joke with her. If we were ever a couple, one of us would have to not be a journalist because that would be no kind of life for two people to live. It’s pretty clear I can tell the future at the same time that I have no idea who the person who won’t be a journalist is going to turn out to be.
We are having a fun, innocent time in the pasty AOL room when we talk about our mutual love of the Tarheels. It’s almost New Year’s. The Tarheels are playing basketball on New Year’s Eve. That would be awesome to see them play on New Year’s Eve, I tap to her. I can get tickets and we can go then, she taps back. LOL. What a crazy thought!
Somehow this thought takes hold in my brain. I used to live in Chapel Hill. I love the town. How much fun would it be to see the Tar Heels play on New Year’s Eve with a girl I’ve never met? Somewhere along the way, I have gotten her phone number. I start driving to Chapel Hill on New Year’s Eve. Along the way, I stop and call Robyn. She’s a little shocked to hear my voice since we’ve never spoken on the phone before. “I am on the road to see you. I hope you got tickets to the game,” I say. “What are you talking about?” she asks. “We have a date,” I say. “I’ll be there in five hours.” I can almost hear her shrugging on the other end of the line. “OK,” she says. “I guess we have a date.”
I drive to Suds and Duds on the outskirts of Chapel Hill. “I’ll be the one wearing torn blue jeans,” I tell her so she will know who I am when she gets there. I’d like to say these jeans had torn knees because I was super stylish. No. That wasn’t it. They had torn knees because I wore the hell out of them.
We meet, and the rest is early social media legend. There’s music. There’s magic. A midnight kiss at Cat’s Cradle while a punk rock band called Vomiting Rainbows plays a mangled version of Auld Lang Syne as we ring in the New Year and the rest of our lives.
My point is this. Robyn is the Queen of all media now, adept and adroit in every facet of social media. It’s part of her job. I was an early adopter of social media. I used it to perfection to meet my wife. I saw no further use for it after that.
Those early heady days of AOL are gone just like the bizarre whine that used to signal your connection to that medium. We live in New York City now where every citizen is face-deep in his smartphone at every possible spare moment. I get the newspaper delivered to the door every morning because I am a dinosaur who still likes the feel and texture of it. But I am trying.
I get the feeling that just as I am starting to really use and understand Facebook it has become like an old couch that everyone has sat in so much it’s become perfectly fitted to our bottoms but also worn out. Facebook may even be sagging in the middle.
I am playing at Twitter again after I made fun of Robyn years ago for ever being a twit. Instagram fascinates me. I’m all about learning the ins and outs of Snap Chat and Tumblr. One day Robyn created this blog for me out of thin air and Internet smarts. Formatted it. Shaped it. Handed it off to me. Nice. I love it. Write it every day. “What does that button do?” I ask my wife. “Well,” she says. “Let me explain…..”
Prettiest Q ever.