I’ve been experimenting with social networking. It’s clear this kind of thing is for young people, or should I say younger people, much less old than me.
I started in the slow lane, with LinkedIn, which is actually about my speed. There are grownups on there, bragging about their jobs, blowing air into their resumes and posting pictures from 25 years ago – all good stuff. I had some success there, meaning I found some old friends from high school, college and my early newspapering days and some of them even remembered me.
Buoyed by my success there, I decided to give FaceBook a try. I’ve been on there for about four weeks and I still only have four friends – my husband, two women from his office, and a girl I met online. Yeah, I know – “a girl I met online” - are you cringing? I am.
So far on FaceBook, I’ve been asked to be very specific about how I know my husband. The choices were limited, so I said we had “hooked up at a party in the past 12 months.” Kind of true, I guess. If hooking up means finishing each others’ sentences in the party conversations and then riding home together in the family truckster.
There’s so much going on in FaceBook. I’ve had some invitations from my two friends who seem to know what they’re doing. I’ve been asked to buy a race car (A pretend one? Not sure. Don’t have time to think about it.), and some decorations that I don’t get and am afraid they might be secretly obscene. I’ve had things written on my wall and I’ve been poked a couple of times. I try to limit my participation to posting my status: “Diane is cooking dinner.” “Diane is cleaning the house.” “Diane is awake.” So far that’s about as much as I can do without being asked for my credit card numbers or being misdirected to TaxSlayer.com.
Next, I gave MySpace a try. A 49-year-old woman getting a MySpace page is like going in disguise to an eighth-grade party, sitting in the corner and observing the tomfoolery. Good god, MySpace is the outhouse of the Internet. There’s so much sewage on there, spam, pornography, obscenities and downright impolite behavior. Hardly anyone says “please” or “thank you.” My daughter made me her #1 friend, though, which is cool. And her two friends who also invited me to be their MySpace friends get extra cookies whenever they come to my house.
I spent about a half day trying to figure out how to set up my page, but then realized I’m not even sure what “my page” is. Is it my profile? Is it what I see when I first sign on? There are all these flashing ads, hearts with blood dripping out of them and other youthful art, that it’s hard to concentrate.
“Diane, stop telling people you ‘don’t know how to do it,’” my husband advised.
I’m seriously thinking of giving up. Up to this point, I’d been able to tackle limited computer socializing with some success. When chat rooms were first started, my husband took me up to our spare room, sat me in front of the computer and signed me on to one of only about six chat rooms that AOL had. I was like I Dream of Jeanne trying to work an electric stove.
“What happens if I push this button . . . oh!”
When I got a message (“Hi! Are you new here?”) I yelled, “Ack!” and jumped up and ran into the corner of the room and crouched down. “Someone saw me in there!”
My husband yelled at me to get back to the keyboard and type in a Hi Back.
“What, do you want people to think you’re rude?”
Well, no, of course not. Because ClamDigger46 is clearly a sweet, sincere, single, 32-year-old ranch owner from Montana.
I struggled to hold my own that first night in the chat rooms. Then my husband went out of town for a week. By Thursday I had logged about 45 hours in AOL’s People Connection, had a regular online meet-up with a murderer and got a good recipe for jambalaya. I was crawling into bed at about 5 a.m. with my right hand a frozen claw still clutching the mouse and my eyes glazed over.
Good thing it only lasted a week before I got that out of my system. I started to feel like I was at a never ending cocktail party where you may meet a couple nice people, but you’re more likely to be stuck talking to the duds, and you end up having the same superficial party conversation over and over again.
It looks like that’s where I’m headed with FaceBook and MySpace. At some point soon, I’m going to have to throw in the towel and call it a night, leave the party and go home with TFitz, that guy I’ve been hooking up with for the past 290 months.