SOCIAL MEDIA

I’m a relic. You know that.

Social Media to me means joining associations, clubs, social groups, hell — even going to synagogue every now and then — attending mixers held by the chamber of commerce, sitting on boards and committees, being involved in a multitude of networking groups at the same time, meeting colleagues after work for drinks….. You know, fun stuff that puts you next to or in front of or beside or across the hall or eating/drinking with people. Real live, breathing people. This, I not only “get,” I enjoy. I love. I get excited about. I look forward do.  (Except for that getting dressed, fixing my hair and putting on make-up thing. But when I did all the above, I was in a place where that was my normal routine anyway. I even wore heels.)

And that’s part of the problem. I don’t seem to “be in a place” right now.

I can still join national associations: my sorority, Sisters in Crime, etc., but local organizations. I don’t know where local is. So I’m not in a position to hit Book Passage the first Monday of the month for Left Coast Writers and the traditional lifting-of-the-glass at Izzy’s afterwards, or take a field trip to the chocolate (or saki) factory with my sorority alumnae girls, or hit the shooting range with my Sisters in Crime crew, or belong to a writing critique group that gets together every couple of weeks to eat/drink and lovingly tear each other’s work into little, bitty blood-soaked pieces.

All I have left from my past life is going to friends’ book signings when we all go out for drinks afterwards. Luckily for me, there are writers all over the country — I just have to be in the right place at the right time.  By the way, Simon Wood and Juliet Blackwell have new books in print and Cornelia Read has one coming out in August. Buy them. Now. (You can wait until August to buy Cornelia’s.) I get to travel to Orange for Simon’s reading this Saturday, and I’m really excited to see him again. But because of Facebook, I also know he’s in a sad place because his beloved sidekick, the long-haired weenie dog Royston is not doing well. Royston’s looking really tired in his pictures, and that’s never a good thing.

So, here I am. Functionally illiterate in a digitalized age kind of way.

Abbi is pulling me kicking and screaming into the new millinium.

I’ll never forget the day she sat me down in her old apartment in Burbank and I watched with glazed-over eyes as she set me up on Facebook and MySpace. No, I never did anything with the MySpace account because by the time I figured out the Facebook end of things, I’d forgotten the MySpace username and password. Now, of course, I’m religiously on Facebook sharing cartoons and seeing what people ate for lunch and commenting on their cute baby/cat/dog and getting in long debates with a bunch of people I don’t even know. And it gives me a whole new venue to piss people off, which seems to be a gift of mine. (I had no idea Republicans were so testy. Don’t they understand that politics are the best source of humor this country offers?) It also gives me the availablity to share the joy and pain of someone who might not have been in my life otherwise.

Because of my life on Facebook, I got into a situation where I got voted off the island. That’s another story.

Bill and I had nine moves in ten years with the Air Force. Back then, if several families got rotated at the same time (which happened often), we’d totally lose each other. I miss so many of them. Now, my kids graduate, get promoted, move all over the world,  and we can stay in touch. I like that.

I’m so blessed to have been able to connect with people I knew in my high school and college days. It’s so strange realizing that those of us who seemed so different back when Weejuns and madras were status symbols were so very much alike. We weren’t allowed to ‘air our dirty laundry’ back then, so no on knew what was going on behind closed doors…..which is also hard to believe since there was no air conditioning and all the windows were open. When my dad yelled his signature, “God Damn It To Hell,” everyone within half a mile knew something was up. And that it was up with Bill Hyman and his family.

But now? Holy freaking cow.

Just when I was getting so proud of myself (and content with) mastering Facebook to the point that I can’t go half a day without checking in for new cute cat pictures, Abbi tells me I need to get involved in LinkedIn. So I am. Kinda. I mean, I’m sending requests when LinkedIn e-mails me a picture with “connect” under it and accepting people who request I do the same, but I have no idea what to do with it. Do I send people messages? Is there a way to send a blanket communication? Do I set up groups? (And what the heck are these new Group A, Group B things on Facebook?) Do I just post my current crap and hope someone reads it? I don’t understand.

And Twitter. Why does everyone “tweet” when it all goes to Facebook anyway? Why not just post on Facebook?

Skype? That’s something I think I’d enjoy — especially with friends I haven’t seen for years or love enough that I want to see their face when we talk. But my computer doesn’t have an eye-thingy to make that possible, and I won’t be getting a new computer until Dr. Robert tells me to call the priest/rabbi.

You know I don’t own a phone with a computer in it. Yes, I should. Why? Don’t have a clue. But it seems to have become very important that I’m available 24/7 to anyone who needs to send me a picture of their drink from Vegas at 4am. Or that I be able to have the football game playing beside me while I drive (OK, that would be cool), but I can still listen to it in the car.

I remember sitting on the side of my bed, staring at the radio while The Lone Ranger and Tonto chased the bad guys. Wanting to yell, “Look behind the tree!” as the bad guys approached. Visualizing instead of watching made the action seem so  intense. The cool part was that very late at night, when other electronic signals weren’t clogging the airways, my little bedside buddy could pick up Wolfman Jack on WLS in Chicago from my little bedroom in Charleston, West Virginia.

“We now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog.”

I want to post reviews on my friends’ books on Amazon, but it won’t let me. So, I type up the review and e-mail it to the friend so they can go in under my username and password (when I can remember them) and post the review themselves. You can stop laughing now.

When someone sends me a text, I have to wait until I’m in front of the computer to send an e-mail reply. Why, you ask? Because my relic phone still has three letters on each number so “Why” becomes “wgw.”  If I want someone’s name and number in the phone, they have to add it while we’re together. I interrupted a couple having a romantic moment on Newport Beach to take a picture of the sunset and stood there while they uploaded it as the phone’s screensaver. Yes, it was embarrassing. They probably figured I’d escaped from ‘the home,’ and got a kick out of helping me in my few minutes of freedom. After all, who doesn’t know how to do these things. Right?

Abbi’s newest project was to upload a couple thousand songs onto an MPG player so I can have music on my road trip without having to punch every button and hope to find something in English. Do I plug it in one ear so I can hear the police sirens behind me because I was too intent singing along with Elton John’s “Yellow Brick Road” to know my foot tapping has propelled me 20-miles over the speed limit? Is there a way to plug it into my car radio, remembering my car is seven years old? So much to learn.

The good news is that for three weeks of the next month, maybe longer,  I’ll be with friends who only laugh at me with love. I’m pretty sure by the time I return from my wanderings, I’ll be SO ready to face the world. Or be more apt at communicating with it……at least to the extent these tasks can be accomplished without buying a new phone or computer. We’ll see.

In the meantime, there’s a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and and I’ll spend the rest of the day shopping for a bunch of  books on tape for my road trip. I’m excited to be able to go to my Audio Book Store in Oklahoma City where I can trade the ones I’ve already heard for new ones. I miss that — and the people who worked there. That’s the kind of social networking I get.

See you in the morning. Until then, stay safe out there.