Sunday, September 11, 2011
When we were young, we spent our days dying over and over about way to express our feelings for each other, and just as the ink spilled out on to the table, and the last page of our journal was eaten up by our fancy words and jokes, the internet was invented. We collectively lost our minds. I spent the next few years writing blog after blog also know as drunken word barf on Myspace, and for half a second on Xanga. Then Facebook happened, and I just didn't feel like barfing words out anymore. I suppose I felt as if my business was everyone's business, and that everyone wanted to know, like, how, like, horrible it was to be popular, and how the boy I, like, was crushing on was so totally not into me. Sigh. Summer bummer.
When Facebook started to blow up all over, and everyone was on it, not just smarmy college weirdos pumping their fists into the air at every home game, I joined and began my long strange, still lingering trip into the fantastic and fucking idiotic world of cyber over sharing. Yeah, I did it. Because everyone's doing it, and I desperately want to be cool. I kid, but there is always some truth to anyone's jokes. What I mean, really, is that I used to LIVE BITCH LIVE on Facebook, and lived for someone to tell me that they lived vicariously through my status updates. I tried to play it off like, "omg, this old thing." As if each status was just some fabulous garment that I had laying around but would put on specifically because I knew that people would look at me, and pay attention to me. The level of narcissism that facebook and the internet has brought me as well as MANY of my friends (you know who you are, ya cyber slutz!) is remarkable. I never thought I cared so much about what I was doing, until people started commenting on a sentence like, "Jurassic Park Fridays!!! Don't Let the raptors out!!!" There are better ones, but let's get serious. I'm not writing here today about how hilarious I am, and how each of my status updates are these cryptic inside joke ramblings.
All of that being said, the other night, I was listening to Kevin Allison's podcast RISK! (Kevin was on The State, he is hilarious, people tell stories, the music is weird and great. Download now), and I started thinking about the shift in how we talk about ourselves as we get older. When we're young, we barf our feelings all over Facebook and Google plus each other in the ass, and Tumble, and Digg, and Stumbleupon, and it is all so instant. The instant pleasure the act of immediately uploading a photo to the internet provides is so gratifying. You are a part of a thing at that moment, and you can immediately share that perverse over sharing desire with all of your nearest and dearest intronet pals! It feels so awesomely dirty, and you love it.
What happens later, and why I think storytelling podcasts are gaining in popularity, is because, we spend a long time collecting memories, and photographs, and moments, and yes, we write them down or share them immediately, but after that, they go away to the cyber card catalogue, or to a box of trinkety bullshit in my closet. We forget about them until we are sitting around with our friends talking, remembering, taking our time, taking our memories out and shuffling them around. Telling stories feels like we're showing off all of our lifetime achievement awards. Passing them around, showing them off, gesturing towards them like one of the girls on The Price is Right. These are things we have done well, or made a spectacular fail out of.
Facebook is the thing we do when we want to people to see us at face value. Judge us by our updates. Later, when we're at The Moth, or RISK!, or listening to This American Life, we don't need the judgement, or the acceptance by the faux friends we encounter. We're sharing because we want people to really know us. The kind of knowing that knows my laugh, and how I like my coffee(winter-steamed milk, little brown sugar/summer-black, iced Americano), and my taste in men(mostly lumberjack types, southerns, sometimes gingers), or jewelry( awkward and ugly), or tchotckes (Troll.Dolls). The kind of knowing that shoves its way to the top of your basically.
We can read everyone's status updates, their profiles, and all of their lists of likes and dislikes, but we can never really know them until we hear them tell us something about how they arrived at who they are today. Sharing the minute details of our lives is annoying and fascinating, but the real story, is when all of those details converge and form a super Voltron Transformer person, and we laugh and cry together, as we have always meant to do because now we're closer to each other than we ever have been, and that's all we wanted in the first place.