The Interwebs and You: A Cautionary Tale—Sort of

In this installment of what is—no doubt in your minds—the most fascinating regularly scheduled “literature” on the InterWebs, I’d like to engage the way-back clock.

Long ago, in what has become a galaxy far, far away, a very smart and grotesque looking man named Reid Hoffman invented something called LinkedIn—perhaps you’ve heard of it.  It all began soon after the turn of the 21st century in 2002 (I know it’s ancient).

The idea was that you could use this thing called the “Internet” to do more than surf for porn, and send and receive e-mail.  You could also use it to make professional connections.  For those of you offended by my reference to porn, I agree with a recent comment from Herman Cain.  “…get a sense of humor.”

I myself would never use the Internet for such a purpose (as far as you know), but all of my friends did.  And I do mean all of them—at least all my male friends.  They had much more advanced personal computers than I did and I was still trying to figure out the www.

I worked for a software company and at that time the folks at this company actually encouraged unlimited use of the Internet.  They also didn’t monitor your odyssey on the Information Super Highway, which was really more of a farm to market road at that time.  Anybody remember lightning-fast 56 KB modems?  OK, so I’m ancient as well.

I remember walking into my friend Ric’s office in 1996 and got my first glance at a Web browser.  “What’s that?” I asked.  “The World Wide Web.” He replied.

“Huh?”

“I’m chatting with someone in Russia.”

“What?”

“Yeah.  We’re talking about my recent trip to Jamaica.  He wants to go.”

“What the Hell are you talking about dude?”

“You haven’t heard of the Web, man?  Where have you been?”

“Working.”

Ric sighed, trying to mask his impatience.  He then went on to explain what was to me a bizarre concept of virtual places you could visit on your computer.  Failing to grasp the concept I acquiesced with a polite “hmmm” and left the room.

Fast forward to 2003, I was laid off and as part of my severance, the company paid for six weeks of transitional assistance at a local consulting firm.  I attended a three-day orientation in which I was introduced to linkedin.com by the orientation consultant.  I immediately flashbacked to Ric’s office and asked her essentially the same question I asked him.  She then spent the next twenty minutes explaining the concept of virtual professional networking to me while everyone else in the room fell asleep.  Apparently I’m retarded when it comes technological advancements.  I didn’t grasp it much better than the notion of Web sites and forums when Ric tried to explain those concepts to me.

Up until that moment I used my computer for word processing and transceiving e-mail.  I was desperate for work, though, and so I set up my LinkedIn account as soon as I returned home and then broadcast my account name to all my e-mail contacts.

Fast forward further still to my latest little jaunt into unemployment: I’m now learning to embrace every social networking platform currently in existence.  God; I hate this crap.  I FaceBook.  I blog.  I tweet.  I integrate TM with Twitter—and by the way I typically screw that one up.  I’m even planning a series of vlog promos for YouTube.

And that’s just the beginning.  As I write this, all of these platforms are slowly becoming extinct.  Does anyone remember MySpace?  I was driving into work a few months ago and was listening to some morning radio.  The DJs were openly mocking users of MySpace as if that in itself made them social pariahs.

Here’s the thing.  I do enjoy writing this blog, because I have the floor and can talk about my favorite topics, among them me.  That said, I’ve already admitted publically to an alternative motive.  I was told I have to do this to sell my book.  Those other social networking platforms?  Same reason.  To me it seems like an act of vanity to put yourself out there in the way most people do on FaceBook, and Twitter, and WordPress, and what’s that new thing by Google?  Oh yeah.  Google+.

Seriously, why do you think I care that your “off to take a shower”, or that you’re at a hip new coffee shop drinking a “double espresso macchiato with extra foam and eating scrumptious scones?”  If you want to spend a fortune on an unhealthy breakfast that you’re washing down with an overdose of caffeine, have at it.  This is America.  Do what you want; I don’t care.  But that’s the point: I don’t care and by extension I don’t need to know unless you’re inviting me to join you.

The entire freaking world has turned off its brain and turned on a five-year-old look at me mentality.  I hate this social networking garbage as much as I hate reality TV—and I hate it for the same damned reason.  It’s full of people whose entire brand is LOOK AT ME.  How about, instead, you throw in “I want to earn enough money to get my PhD so I can find a cure for cancer and I’m willing to sacrifice my dignity to do it.”  Or maybe “I want to gain notoriety so that I can promote a book on repairing the human condition, and I think it’s so important I’m willing to put up with this crap to get there.”

No!  That never happens.  The entire point of being on reality TV is always so that you can be a jackass in front of 40 million viewers.  FaceBook and Twitter are no different.  Everybody wants to show how important and interesting their miserable little lives are.

OK; at this point, if you’re still reading, I probably owe you an apology.  I’m sorry about the rant; I just get a little worked up about this stuff sometimes.  As an individual, you are probably not that guy or gal.  You probably just want to stay in touch with your friends.  I say that because you follow my blog and so you are probably thoughtful and sensitive to the needs of others.

Hey.  Here’s an idea: pick up the damned phone and give him or her a call.  Novel huh?  Your cellular telephone was invented so that you could keep in touch by having an actual voice conversation from anywhere on the North American continent.

Now it is my fervent hope that you are laughing hysterically at the irony of my railing about this social networking crap in a blog on WordPress that I will promote on both Twitter and FaceBook.  That irony being compounded by the fact that I’m writing about stuff that is important to me and is no-doubt trivial to you—and, by the way, the book I’m promoting here does nothing to repair the human condition; it merely points it out and openly mocks it at times.  If that doesn’t strike you as funny or hypocritical, you’re probably not my target market.  You should consider going somewhere else.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to take a shower.

Guy-o

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1 Comment

Filed under Writerly Travails

One response to “The Interwebs and You: A Cautionary Tale—Sort of

  1. deb

    My favorite Walter Harvey quote: “Why would anyone need a gig of memory?” I’m ancient too.

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