Tuesday, May 25, 2010

story time

For those of you who will be in NYC tomorrow night (and also, I suppose, for those of you who are into making last-minute interstate road trips to see what bloggers look like in person), I will be reading a story I wrote in the West Village Wednesday night as part of the next installment of the Papercone reading series. The theme is "pranks" (spoiler alert: I'll be reading a story about high school). It should be a fun time, and at least (hopefully?) more enjoyable than whatever else you'd be doing on a Wednesday night (watching DVRed 'Glee'? Getting dinner with that former co-worker you've been blowing off? Eating peanut butter in bed?). Check out the poster here, and hope to see y'all tomorrow night!

the tagged lives of others

So at first I was like "Awww, this is actually kind of nice. Facebook is reminding me of awesome moments from my past." (And then I colored in a coloring book for a bit and munched on some oatmeal raisin cookies.) It was as if the site was aware of how numbing and dull the daily news feed grind has become and was offering a nice little jolt of nostalgia so you could casually reminisce about that Halloween sophomore year where you dressed as a ninja turtle with a group of six people you didn't really know, or that uneventful BBQ which for some reason was photographed as thoroughly as if it was a movie premiere.

But then, upon closer examination, I realized that these "Photo Memories" that have been rotating through the top right of my screen for the past two weeks are... actually from other people's albums and have nothing to do with me at all! As I rapidly clicked refresh last night and took in the cavalcade of Facebook-selected "memories" being offered up to me, instead of taking me on a pleasant trip down a memory lane of photo tags, all they served to do was make me question my life choices ("Would my life be better if I lived in the black-and-white world of Jackie's London? Would I be more relaxed if that 'LA Summer Lovin' album was my life? Would things be different if I spent my weekends with Benny, who seems to live primarily at themed parties and outdoor concerts?"). As if my Facebook sessions weren't masochistic enough spent clicking through the pictures of pretty randos I'll never meet and checking up on the happenings of former BFFs, now they've delivered me this internet scrapbook of other people's "memories," seemingly only to remind me of all the places I'm not.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

pondering a reply

Group e-mails, while often a rip-roaring gas and a wonderful way to while away the afternoon at work, can at times pose a serious quandary. Sometimes you send a link to the new Ke$ha vid to your three besties which organically involves into an easy-breezy ten e-mail exchange, with everyone adding in their 2¢. But, OTHER TIMES, someone boldly e-mails out a link or a story or some pictures (you get the idea!) - the kind of message you'd normally respond to without really thinking much about it - but sends it to a group of like 12 people, some of whom you don't really know! All of a sudden, rather than a quick quippy casual response to your buds, your thoughts on That Unexpected Facebook Discovery or That Awesome 'Lost' Theory, have become this strange performative essay. You think too hard about what you're typing, delete an Evangeline Lilly joke that doesn't really make sense, add in an emoticon and then erase it. You finish your response and then you read it over and wonder if it's even worth replying all! Do you really need to deal with Aaron judging your thoughts on a Funny or Die video? So you end up just replying sender and feeling kind of sheepish about it. Or, if you're in one of those moods and just need to tell it like it is, you reply all but take off a few names. My friend actually did that last week and I found the blatant e-bitchiness of it kind of inspiring.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

behaviors that have become commonly accepted

1. Placing your phone on the table. When I was a mere 20-year-old, it was kind of transgressive to take your phone out in the middle of a dinner to respond to a text or check to see who called. You had to kind of look away from the person you were eating with and effusively apologize before putting the phone back in your pocket. Now, and I am definitely as guilty of doing this as the next overcaffeinated freak, not only is checking and texting as normal as someone getting up to go to the bathroom or asking you what you're gonna order ("I dunno! Everything looks good!"), taking your phone out at the beginning of the meal and placing it next to your plate is really the standard move. Your phones just sit there throughout the entire meal, expectantly, as if you're both Kellan Lutz or whatever and waiting for the call that they need you on set.

2. Using the word 'stalker' in all contexts. I'm pretty sure it's because of our collective Facebook addiction or the fact that we all learned how to interact with each other from watching "Gossip Girl" that the word "stalker" somehow got incorporated into our everyday parlance. But it's kind of great how it has now become the default word for knowing basically any information at all about anyone. Enjoy these breathtakingly realistic example convos:

"Oh, didn't you have that doctor's appointment this week?"
"OMG, stalker!"

"Yeah, I saw that you guys became Facebook friends, like, the day after the party."
"Haha. Um, stalker alert!"

3. Responding to a call with a text. This one represents real progress in my eyes. Even though texts have totally overtaken actual phone calls as the preferred means of communication, there are still those one or two friends who insist on calling you to figure out when to meet or (stalker alert!) just to talk. But (and maybe this isn't like universally accepted behavior yet?) while I used to feel qualms about doing this, I no longer feel any guilt at all about letting their calls go to voice mail and then responding with a text. Most of the time I don't even listen to the voice mail! I just text "So what's up?" or "Where do you want to meet?" and, sure enough, they'll text right back and I can get back to reading random people's twitters or watching another video of an a cappella group covering "Single Ladies."

Monday, May 10, 2010

blogging about my feelings

I'm pretty sure that since they introduced tagging people in pictures, there hasn't been a change to Facebook that hasn't been met with initial frustration followed by tepid, begrudging acceptance. Unveiled without warning and adding needless complication to a pretty simplistic site (99% of Facebook users are like "make it as easy as possible for me to stalk people" and the other 1% are old), Facebook makeovers are annoying, sure, but ultimately harmless: they give everyone something to vent about... until the next thing to vent about (like the shortcomings of "Glee" or Bristol Palin or whatever). More than anything, the changes just make me think about bored Facebook dudes with indeterminable facial hair sitting around some fun wheely table eating burritos and being like "Uhhh, whaddya guys wanna do today? U wanna mess around with the site?"

But this latest change is one I just can't accept. I clicked on my profile the other day to check out what was going on with me lately and was asked if I wanted to "link" my interests and such to pages. There was no button for "Decline" or "No, thanks, I actually don't want to be a fan of a page called 'Writing About My Feelings,' as awesome as that sounds." And the worst part is, as far as I can tell, you can no longer write in text for any of the profile "favorites" fields, which is just, ya know, crushing to my psyche. It took me a good five years to come up with "I break the ice with people I don't know by telling them I cried at 'Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants'" for my "Favorite Movies." Now how will people know I'm super irreverent and fun?!

This is bad for everyone: for me, for you, for people who use Facebook to get a quick read on if someone is "normal" or "lame," "funny" or "awful." It's bad for that girl with the blurry Facebook picture, the scarcity of wall posts and the interests field of "reading. thinking. being. feeling. emoting." who now might actually start getting friendly messages from people no longer able to immediately discern she's a surly genius or whatever (though it's fun to imagine her accidentally linking to the "fan page" for "feeling"). And it's bad for the guy who tries to be ironic about his love for "The Vampire Diaries," but now that you come across his profile and see that he's linked to the page for it... it's like, Is he actually being ironic? Why didn't he just select to remove the link?... Wait, does he really like the show? Ugh. This change basically killed any sense of irony or fun in Facebook. The only people it's good for, as far as I can tell? The Facebook employees who can link to "Team Coco" and "24" and "Facebook" and "burritos" or whatever it is they ♥, and feel awesome about how many "fans" all their pages have.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

five long seconds of self-doubt

Recently, a friend of mine was sitting next to me while I checked my e-mail and noted that, considering my verging-on-parody neuroticism, it was weird that I hadn't added the "undo send" feature to my gmail (which allows you to "unsend" an e-mail for up to five seconds after clicking the "send" button). I explained that - like "getting an iPhone" or "hanging up the mirror in my bedroom" - adding "undo send" is one of those things which, yes, I theoretically plan to do in the future, but just never seems to actually happen.

But then a few days later, after feeling extreme anguish for having forgotten to include someone on a group e-mail that really should have been on there (DRAMA), I decided to add the feature. And now, unsurprisingly, I use it on basically every e-mail I send. The way I e-mail has been revolutionized, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

I used to send out e-mails with somewhat reckless abandon, a quick "meh" response to a "hysterical" Funny or Die video, a link to Alexander Skarsgard paparazzi pictures with a dashed-off hyperbolic subject line, a "what was the name of the store we went to after brunch that time?" all lower-caps inquiry. But now - if I feel even the slightest uncertainty about an e-mail ("Wait, did I send that to the right Andrew?" or "Is signing off with a 'Best, Josh' going to weird Ava out?" or "Is that joke about the hand sanitizer taking it too far?") - I panic and click the "undo send" button, which just lingers there like a Gmail Elf Fairy for those five long seconds of self-doubt. And, a lot of the time, I do make adjustments or alterations, change a "planz" to "plans," add in a sentence about how I haven't seen anyone lately, attach the screenshot I forgot to include.

Sure, technically my e-mails have been "improved" by these changes. I mean, instead of just skimming e-mails before I send them, now I skim them before and after sending them! It almost seems like cheating, like some editor photoshopping a picture of Kim Kardashian post-production (basically I'm trying to say my e-mails are as treasured as KK's body). Now, thanks to "undo send," I no longer send off e-mails that try too hard to impress, too hard to flirt, too hard to apologize... Of course, that's totally not true; Gmail Elf Fairies can only do so much.