Back in 1997, I worked with this guy who I thought was a bit of a yahoo. I’m not even sure exactly what yahoo means as a noun, but whenever I think of this guy, that’s the word that pops into my mind.
By Annabel Monaghan
Back in 1997, I worked with this guy who I thought was a bit of a yahoo. I’m not even sure exactly what yahoo means as a noun, but whenever I think of this guy, that’s the word that pops into my mind. Among other things, he had a pocket square to match each and every one of his ties, punctuated non-funny comments with a wink and occasionally affected a British accent. I busted on him for a lot of reasons, but the most ridiculous thing about him, in my estimation, was that he had a cell phone. I mean, seriously, I’d wonder: Why in the world would you need to talk on the phone when you’re not at home or in your office?
I guess you could call me slow-to-adapt.
I reacted similarly to the invention of the ATM machine (there’s a teller right inside), the self-scanner at the supermarket (they’re not paying me to scan my own groceries), and the proliferation of the smart phone (why would I need to check my emails before the end of the day). It even took me years to start wearing boots with skirts (I’m not a go-go dancer). Of course, I’ve fully embraced all of these things, and they’ve changed my life in such meaningful ways that I get choked up just thinking about them.
Facebook was the largest hurdle for me to get over. I joined in 2007 and dove in and poked around, increasingly grateful with every snoopy click that they didn’t have Facebook when I was a teenager. Eventually, people I knew started joining, and I had a few friends. I’d groan as I scanned through the newsfeed and read that a friend just paid his ConEd bill or that another was looking forward to watching “Desperate Housewives”. I had nothing interesting to say either, so I stopped checking in. (I mean who needs to reach out and share so much with so many people?) Truth is: I do.
In the past year, I have jumped back into Facebook. I have some new friends, but they’re mostly the same, and I have to admit that everyone’s posts are a lot more interesting than they used to be. It’s like they’ve hit their Facebook stride. Their status updates are ideas more than facts, phrases to get a conversation going. Friends, and friends of friends, discuss politics, theology, or where to get an eco-friendly sippy cup. Lots of people seem to be marketing something: yoga services, a blog, a book. People offer humor or articles or ideas to their friends, but it’s just an offering. There’s no pressure to read it or respond if you don’t have time. I post these articles, and people either read them or they don’t. There’s a Like button that you can press, but no
But then there’s Twitter.
I’m supposed to be tweeting. The idea is that if I tweeted and had lots of “followers” (you see how I get skeeved out here?), then when my book comes out, I can tweet about it to lots of people who will then drop what they’re doing and race to buy a copy. So, I’ve set up a Twitter account.
Eleven people follow me and I’ve never chirped a word. Isn’t that a little suspicious in its own right? The first time I got an email from Twitter saying @SoAndSo is following you I instinctively looked over my shoulder. Who’s following me? And why? Last week someone hacked into my Twitter account and tweeted, “I lost weight without changing my diet, click here to find out how.” As intriguing as that idea is, why would you hack into an account with 11 followers? It’s like robbing a homeless guy.
Facebook seems safe and confined to those whose faces I’ve actually seen. Twitter feels like a ride on Space Mountain where you’re completely in the dark about how high up you are or how far you’ll fall. I don’t understand its dimensions or even its purpose. Saying this, I hear the echo of my mocking ATMs and the cell phones. We’ll laugh about this some day when I’ve just affixed a Born to Tweet bumper sticker to my Volvo.
My concern is that if I don’t jump on the bandwagon with Twitter and open my mind wide enough to understand it, I’m going to miss the next thing and the next thing after that. Will I be like someone who never figured out how to program the VCR and then never even tried to email? Or are there bandwagons that we can let pass without taking ourselves completely out of the game? What if Pinterest and Instagram could come and go without my investing any time at all? After all, I never wore leg warmers or traded Pokémon cards, and that worked out fine.