A MinD in MoTown

Fighting the addiction.

Like most other days, I turned off the alarm and grabbed my cell phone. A few clicks later and I was on mobile Twitter, seeing what the world was up to before I threw off the covers and rolled – literally – out of bed. And, like those other days, I decided to save my first tweet for the office, which I’d stumble into an hour and a half later after walking the dog, a 15-minute date with my hair dryer, some makeup and the routine struggle to decide what to wear.

But this day – today – was different.

Twitter was down. It was 9:30 a.m. and I was convinced my work computer simply decided to hate me until I attempted the mobile version, which also refused to load.

“No big deal,” I said to myself as I meandered over to Facebook, only to discover error message after error message invading my computer screen. It wasn’t just Twitter escaping my grasp; it was Facebook, too.

After several repeated attempts to successfully browse each site this morning, I realized my attachment to these social networking devices – an attachment most of us bloggers tend to have. Sure, I somewhat acknowledged this beforehand, especially during moments where my boyfriend would harass me for tweeting through dinner, but it wasn’t something I took any more seriously than a joke. However, with this morning’s duo of downed sites, I can accept my position as an addict.

Whether it be Twitter of Facebook, these sites are the first I check in the morning from the comfort of my bed and the last I view before slumbering each evening. To count how many times I wander their direction would be nearly impossible, but I’d venture it’s at least several dozen times a day*. I tweet while driving, while working, while watching TV, while shopping, while eating, so on and so forth**, and I’m regularly checking Facebook just to discover what my “friends” are up to each minute of the day. Clearly these sites have become more than entertainment; they’ve moved into a pervasive element of my daily life.

And what’s worst of all? I know I’m not alone here. Since social networking became “all the rave,” so many of us have jumped onto this bandwagon, refusing to let go. We tweet, we update our statuses, we retweet and we play dumb games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars***, all while blogging our lives away when free moments arise. I almost can’t help but wonder what “real life” things we’re missing out on by engaging in these Internet activities.

Yet each element has become such a common piece of our generation’s existence that most of us – few of us, I’d imagine – stop to think about it until one site goes down and we wander the Web lost, trying to find something else to fill the void. That’s what I did this morning, after all. With Twitter and Facebook incapable of working properly, I read a bit more news than usual, made a few phone calls I otherwise might have waited to complete and skimmed through my Google Reader, all because two pages I frequent were beyond my fingertips.

Is being a social networking/computer addict a natural part of being a 20-something in 2009? Or are some of us taking our Internet lives farther than need be? At what point, if any, does succumbing to this world – the blogosphere, the Twittersphere and countless other sites – invade reality and keep us from completely enjoying a life without the clicking of keyboard keys and mouse buttons? For us addicts, is there truly a time when we’ll have to say “when”?

* An assumption of 25 each per day seems accurate, yet only approximate.
** I may or may not tweet from the bathroom, too.
*** I am only guilty of the first of those two, thank you very much.

Twenty-five (as seen on Fbook).

Like most of you who also navigate the pages of Facebook, my lovely friends – three of them – tagged me in the “25 things” meme. I knew it would happen sooner or later as I watched the note trickle from friend to friend, and then three times in 24 hours.

(I was starting to get a little nervous, however, that nobody cared enough to tag me. How sad is that? I was actually relieved, to an extent of course, when a friend I’ve known since my elementary school days finally did. Talk about a sigh of relief for not being the last girl picked in dodgeball.)

Seeing as many/most of you aren’t my friends on the book-of-Face, I thought I’d post my list here and give you fine folks some more insight into yours truly.

1. I got my most recent tattoo on a whim. While at work one day, waiting for phone calls to be returned, I decided to walk half a block to the downtown tattoo parlor and inquire about prices for some Beatles lyrics on the back of my neck. He gave me a quote and asked if I wanted it right then. Instead, I waited two hours – ’til work was actually over, of course – and went back to get it done, then headed to my other job about an hour later.

2. Peppers, onions, celery (there’s more, I’m sure) are all foods I don’t eat simply because of their texture.

3. I’ve had a LiveJournal since I was about 15 and can sadly look back on literally the last eight years of my life. Sometimes I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but at least I can see how much I’ve grown as a writer.

4. I hate when people tell me I should attend their church. Yes, I know I live in the south and church is a pretty big deal, but not only did I grow up Catholic, I also haven’t gone to a single mass since eighth grade. I have no desire to change that any time soon.

5. Despite that, when I have kids (no time in the near future), I’d like to take them to church and create that foundation. Then, when they are old enough, they can decide for themselves what they want to believe and whether they want to continue being a Catholic (’cause I definitely won’t be bringing them up under another faith). I think some sort of religious foundation as a child helps foster a good moral base as one becomes an adult, even if that faith is no longer of much importance.

6. And while on the topic of religion, I loathe people yelling at me for saying “god damn” or taking the Lord’s name in vain. I like saying it and don’t tell someone else to do so for my pleasure, so I’d rather people not tell me not to say it for their sake.

7. (Moving on from religion, finally…) When I moved to NC, I was more saddened about leaving my friends behind than my family. Now that I’ve been gone for nearly two years, it’s my family I miss the most and I almost feel guilty for not feeling that way from the start.

8. I’ll never move back to Pennsylvania. Maybe I’ll move close – NYC perhaps, or Maryland/DC – but Pennsylvania will remain in the rearview mirror for me.

9. I went to a comedy show with my family and my parents’ friends over Christmas and the main comedian did rather poorly. I felt so bad for him that I’ve perused his Web site several times hoping to discover some glimmer of hope that comedy isn’t his only job or that people outside of Scranton actually think he’s funny. His name was Lord Carrett and his buisness card is on my work desk.

10. My cheeks and ears turn red sometimes for absolutely no reason. They are right now, and I don’t know why.

11. I love that people in the South are polite. I’m big on my “please and thank yous,” so it’s pretty refreshing after always encountering rude people up north.

12. Onto more fun things, on my 21st birthday, I passed out in a fraternity lawn. This was after several shots, beers and one blue monkey bowl that tasted like a pixie-stick. After waking up on the grass and getting into my friend’s car, I proceeded to puke all over the outside. And despite it all, and the hangover that Sunday, it was a fabulous day.

13. If you asked me how many girls I’ve kissed, I couldn’t answer you. Have I done anything more? Never. But lots of kissing and with quite a few girls I only remember as “that short red head” and “you know, the brown-haired girl.”

14. Throughout my entire high school career, I thought the guy who had the locker next to mine freshman year was THE hottest boy to ever walk the halls of West Side. I still think that, and he is def my friend on Fbook (and I only slightly hope he doesn’t recall where his locker was that school year).

15. I always knew I wanted to be “a writer,” but it took working for a monthly publication, Voices of Central Pennsylvania, in college to realize I wanted to be a journalist. And now that the entire industry is failing and my job is likely to eventually disappear from underneath me, I have no idea if I can ever just be “a writer” again.

16. The first dance I will have with my husband – whoever that might be – has to be “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles. If he’s not okay with that, he’s not “the one” as far as I’m concerned.

17. In 9th grade, I waited hours in line to have Pink sign my CD at the Steamtown Mall. I also took a picture of her with one of those Polaroid sticker cameras. Oh man was I awesome!

18. I’m not attracted to southern guys. And I don’t know how, but I somehow managed to find a native New Yorker (the state, not the city) to date here in MoTown, and I absolutely love him.

19. My left sock has to go on first. But my right shoe has to go on first. Left sock, right sock, right shoe, left shoe. Or I feel completely out of whack the majority of my day.

20. I was going to get my tongue pierced on a Wednesday, but the guy told me it’d be $10 cheaper the next day as a “Thirsty Thursday” special … so I waited.

21. I’m a little creeped out by the thought of having a person growing inside me. It won’t be happening for several more years ::knock on wood::, but feeling a living thing in there definitely makes me cringe a bit.

22. I fall asleep on the couch almost every single night. If I make it to bed before 4 a.m., I’ve done well. Purchasing an $800 bed was ridiculous considering how many nights I pass out watching TV in the living room then never make it the 20 feet to my bedroom before morning.

23. Me and the Postal Service (the USPS, not the band) have a love/hate relationship. While I love getting mail from friends or family, I hate every other piece of mail. All of it. It piles up gradually and when about two to three months worth of mail is taking up a significant piece of space in my living room, I go through it all and toss the majority of it. If they reduce mail services to only five days, as they’ve been talking about, I’ll be ecstatic … even though that might mean I wait four months before rummaging through the pile.

24. Female masturbation kinda creeps me out. I can talk about or listen to anything sexual except girls masturbating. Several female friends have made fun of me, a lot, because I’ll literally walk away from a conversation if chicks start talking about dildos and vibrators, etc. Definitely not a topic of choice for me.

25. When in college, I decided to start growing my hair long because I wanted to have long braids when I put my hair in pigtails.

What was life like before Facebook?
January 26, 2009, 11:28 am
Filed under: Facebook consumes my life, Such a quandry

It’s a Friday morning and you just got into work. As you browse through your emails – no doubt filled with junk mail about enlarging your penis, even if you don’t possess one – and sip on that mocha latte you nabbed from your local Starbucks, your fingers type in that one web address you undoubtedly check every single day: www.facebook.com.

Thanks to the stalker beloved news feed, you quickly peruse through those “friends” who have changed their photo or declared via the Internets that their relationship has ended, again. And then you’re confronted with a dilemma …

On the righthand side, listed under today’s events and birthdays, she is listed. That girl whose name you recall, but, without the aid of Facebook, whose face would be little more than a blurry image. The girl who you had two classes with sophomore year of college and hit the gym with on a regular basis, but spoke to rarely outside the confines of class schedules. The same girl you once confided in as you walked from class to the cafe, but haven’t actually spoken to since creative writing ended that warm May day nearly three and a half years beforehand.

… Do you wish her a happy birthday? Even though you’re nearly convinced the last Facebook interaction you had was a drunken comment two years ago asking “howw the hell r ya?” – which she may or may not have answered – do you suck it up and wish her well? Although the two of you have become little more than aquaintances, if that, would it kill you to wish her the best on this particular day of the year?

At what point do you stop dishing out cold, empty birthday salutations to people you would utter little more to than a “hey, how ya doing” if you bumped into them on the street? Do you write a comment on their wall each year just to be nice, or cease your bday correspondence once you stop actually seeing the person on a regular basis?

Is there even a clearly defined answer to this?

I’m certainly thinking there isn’t, but I somewhat wish there was. I always feel silly writing “Happppy Birthdayyy!” on someone’s wall then going to “wall-to-wall” only to realize that they didn’t do the same for me and the last comment between us was yet another “Happppy Birthdayyy” 365 days ago. (Not going to lie, I’ve deleted my birthday salutations a few times when I noticed that was the case…) On that same note, if someone wishes me well that one day of the year and I realize I didn’t do the same for him/her, I feel a bit guilty.

Clearly, I’m thinking way more into this than necessary – seriously, I get that – but is this really something not all of us have pondered at some point? If not, I’m betting next time you see a long-lost friend pop up on Fbook with an upcoming birthday, these thoughts will cross your mind, if only briefly. And yes, you’ll have me to thank for that … which you can do by wishing me a Happy Birthday on July 15. Presents are welcome. Start saving now.