The Internets are a remarkable tool, half of the time. The other half, it’s remarkably irritating. Great for news, porn–news about porn–and keeping up with everyone but the Kardashians–ya know, that vacuous tribe of squishy and stretched narcissists that recently drove Lamar Odom (to a brothel) and Scott Disick (to his yacht) for drug-fueled ménage à trois? Now Odom is in a coma after being discovered by two hookers and Disick, according The Daily Mail, appears worse for the wear.
But what the Internets ain’t so helpful with is laying low. Hellz no. Used to be that some crazy shit would go down–bad breakups, big debts, arrest warrants–and you could peace out of enemy territory for a minute and return once shit blew over or maybe until someone got you thinking dumb stuff like turning yourself in was the wisest of all your options. There was once a phrase for it. It was called getting the fuck out of dodge.
But now, thanks to the Internets, there is no getting the fuck out of anywhere, away from anything. There is no laying low. There is no more getting lost or going off the grid or preceding your reputation. First impressions have lost their luster to second impressions, known as the Google search, where anyone so inclined can track the little cookie crumbs you’ve left behind since 2001 when you opened a Hotmail account or made your first friend on Friendster. With enough persistence, everyone and anyone can piece together the bigger, well, cookie of your life, because apparently pictures aren’t worth enough fucking words these days.
Once upon a time, there would be that friend who just wasn’t around anymore and sometimes you had to become Hercule Poirot, searching for clues and shit, sorting through the rumors, until you or someone else received a letter in the mail. A real signed-sealed-and-delivered letter stamped at a Post Office in a place you’d never heard of before and couldn’t Wikipedia, like Tickfaw, Louisiana.
And maybe this friend had included a handwritten phone number on their handwritten note and days if not weeks would go by before they were near the phone when it rang or vice versa because phones were things that stayed at home. And maybe after a long exciting convo you made them promise to send photos they would never send because those required film and two trips to Wal-Green’s and above all else, money for copies and extra postage.
Back then, you settled for visiting friends, perhaps to never return even or at least not return for a long time and before long everyone you knew were like excited particles zipping and zagging around America and if you needed to get the fuck out of dodge for awhile you had options, places to go, a way to disappear for a while.
Yesterday and Today, chopped and screwed.
These days the bonds of friendships and the experiences they’re built on now are subdivided and buried among an avalanche of Tweets, status updates, typo-ridden text messages, emojis, tumblr feeds, hyper-saturated Instragram croppings and IM exchanges that read like lines from the most banal movie ever written.
How r u?
U read my tweet??!!
Call me if ya wanna talk, bitch!
It’s maddening and I’m as guilty as anyone. Sometimes I don’t want to talk because I’m browsing the Internets, learning how to remove a U-trap on Youtube or watching surfers lose their legs to sharks. But you’d think after leaked emails have embarrassed so many that presumably savvy people would more often use the phone but they do not, most of’em anyhow.
I have a client who not only prefers dialing numbers, but who loves to fucking talk an talk and talk some more and by the time our convo ended today after 45-exhausting minutes I was winded from all of those words fired at me like bullets from a machine gun getting all jammed up in my ear. But that’s the nature of business.
But a 45-minute emoji-free LOL with the right friend, beside you in the flesh, will intoxicate you in ways that Skype could never come close to.
Recently I’ve made a point of staying off of Facebook and all other social media for reasons both personal and practical. Going AWOL from Facebook for a minute, where that little green dot next to the avatars has become something approximating a person’s lividity, a sure sign of life, you begin to heal, to rediscover things like sidewalks and streets, movie theaters and bookstores.
I’ve often wondered what kind of pianist I could’ve been had I shown the same devotion to those keys as I do the ones on my laptop.
But woe to those for whom the Green Dot of Existence remains unlit for too long as those in the digital hive may begin to click and scroll and become liable to interpret ACTIVE TWO MONTHS AGO as an epitaph on your tombstone or worse yet that you’ve blocked them from the big important things they worry you’ve been secretly posting on your profile.
Last week I received the first of a trickle of emails, ironically sent through Facebook, containing variations of Are u ok?
Sure, it’s nice to know that you spontaneously popped into the brain of someone somewhere for some reason, but it made me a little wistful for the days when an assumptive question like Are u ok? was reserved for events like falling down or getting hit by a car… something more than failing to show up at the town square to hear about peoples’ shitty workdays or to learn about the Top 10 Excuses Fuckwads Make for Imposing on Everyone Else Their Narcissism of Small Differences.
In my day, you asked, How have you been?
But the Internets has managed to transform the whole of civilization into the lowest common denominator. Only on the Internets could someone like Anne Taintor make alcoholic single motherhood seem so classy and chic. Or maybe the joke is on the moms who out themselves by posting shit they clearly see as a reflection of themselves and their condition.
But it’s the crazy I’ve come to disdain.
Never in a real-world convo have I inspired a flash mob of chirpers so angered by a poorly worded opinion about Miley Cyrus’ twerking, because in the real fucking world I don’t talk about Miley Cyrus or twerking.
In the real world, real friends don’t let friends unfriend simply because the observation that Miley Cyrus has no ass to twerk with reflexively stinks of sexism and misogyny to the immediate outrage of a rabid horde that has given the entire thing way too much thought.
In the real world, friends laugh at that kind of shit. Yeah, Miley’s music sucks, she has no ass, pass the dabs.
Over the last few days I have logged onto Facebook for a few minutes each day. Not to catch up on all of the exciting shit I’ve been missing out on–when was the last time someone posted a book or fresh air?–but just to flicker that little green light as if I were a hostage holding the day’s paper before the camera… a cookie crumb for the hive that all is well and good, that I am in fact okay.
Living a real day, it turns out, just happens to be a helluva a lot more satisfying.
So I got the fuck out of dodge.