A Friday Rant

I bitch a lot about all this new technology.  I'm a complainer, its what I do.  Plus I hate change.  It's a dynamite combination.  Mostly, I think I just feel very overwhelmed by all of it.  I am "supposed to" be updating my blog, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Gchat statuses, Spotify playlists, and whatever other new thing I'm either forgetting or totally unaware of, constantly.  It is a LOT to handle.  And you're supposed to be doing all of those things from your phone, all the time.  You can never unplug, never just enjoy an experience.  Does the experience even happen if you don't tweet about it and Instagram the photo?

There was a simpler time, or at least that's how I remember it.  We got THE INTERNET at my house in 7th grade.  I was 13 and it was da bomb (I used to say things like that, legitimately).  And after some exploring of the internet, I discovered the secret that I'm sure some friends had let me in on: AIM.  Do you remember it?  Come home from school, first thing I'd do was log on.  First screenname?  Buffy14096.  I was, and remain, a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan.  The numbers held no importance, I think I just liked how it all sounded together.  However, being into vampires was NOT COOL in 7th grade (oh, those glorious pre-Twilight days when liking vampires was still frowned upon), so I switched to a new, totally awesome screen name in 8th grade.  If you remember the year 1999, it was the bubblegum pop explosion.  My girl Britney Spears, *NSYNC (where does that damn asterisk go anyway?), BSB, and of course, Ms. Aguilera herself.  8th grade screen name?  Geeni n Bottle.  Yep.  That's right.  Check that puppy out.  By the end of high school I had switched it up again to the less horrendous Faysie34, my nickname, plus varsity basketball number (Captain, nbd). 

Now, AIM was amazing because you would leave school with all your friends, go home, sign on, and there were all your friends again.  Your BFF? There.  The girl you "hated" but secretly wanted to be just like?  There.  The boy you wanted to flirt with?  There, just a few keystrokes away.  It was social media, minus the media.  Pure, unadulterated, virtual, social interaction.

I wish I could see all of the variations of my AIM profile.  There were the early ones, before boys really became part of my world, when things were really simple and fun.  You know that time when you make really good girlfriends and you become so obsessed with them that its like you're in love?  You would pass notes all day in classes, and then go home and talk on the phone while also IMing.  And your profile was dedicated to them, and theirs to yours.  That "so close we'll die if we're apart" friendship.  Constant, clingy, endless, can't imagine the world without it, friendship. 

Then there were the later ones, mostly in high school, filled with Dashboard Confessional, Guster, or Taking Back Sunday lyrics, little "codes" or inside jokes that only your friends understood, and then at the bottom, initials, sometimes with a date, sometimes with a <3 heart.  That was the Facebook Relationship status pre-Facebook.  But God, the song lyrics.  I didn't think I was emo, but seriously, I was emo.  DT and I recently spent some early morning hours drinking and listening to Dashboard and cracking up.  That shit was MEANINGFUL to me in high school.  Chris Carrabba perfectly articulated how it felt to be in love, to be heartbroken, to be elated, devastated, all of the above, all at the same time.  And then DT said, "Isn't that weird that he wrote all those songs when he was like 25?  No one should still be that intense at 25".  And he's so right.  Carrabba, you are now a creep.  But 10 years ago?  You were my personal poet laureate.

And the art of the away message?  It was a tricky one.  There was one kid in high school who had an away message for everything.  Today, he would be that constant Facebook status updater: "just woke up"; "taking a shower"; "eating toast".  THE WORST.  This was another opportunity for song lyrics, depressing or flirty, depending on your mood.  You could say what you were doing ("OuT wItH mY GiRlS, HiT mE uP!") or there were the "sexy" ones ("If you were homework, I'd be doing you on my desk right now").  Scandalous!

I complain now that we are too wrapped up in our technology.  But the truth is, we've always been that way.  Some of my most formative and "important" conversations happened over AIM.  I'd be at my family computer in my dad's office at 2am, crying and having a huge fight with my high school boyfriend, frantically typing but trying to do it quietly on those damn loose keys.  After a fight (over a boy, duh), my best friend apologized over AIM, because there were just some things that couldn't be said in person.  AIM taught me the art of online flirting, sexual innuendo, and witty banter.  Despite our parents' worries, I think it made me a better communicator and possible even a better writer.  It damn well made me a fantastic two-fingered typist.        


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